Learning from medical practitioners on why and how they use social media

I’ve recently conducted some research on how medical practitioners are using social media in their profession. This blog post lists down some examples of how medical practitioners can use social media. Check out the weblinks to see it in practice. Hopefully these examples will inspire people in government to use social media in more creative and effective ways.

Social media for medical practitioners

No. E-Channel Overview or related articles Weblink

Second Life

The PREVIEW project have been exploring the use of virtual worlds, Second Life in particular, as an environment for problem-based learning (PBL) for care professionals and paramedic students.

The care professionals are using open-ended PBL scenarios using a chatbot engine to create characters who can guide, act out eDramas and interact with students within Second Life. Paramedic students are using fixed-ended PBL scenarios which require them to conduct patient assessment and treatment on virtual patients in Second Life. The project is best summarised by the video below in the video link section.



2. Twitter Should doctors use Twitter?

Early physician adopters say the social media site can help you promote your practice and communicate with colleagues.

Doctors who keep tweeting stick around because they find it can be useful. Physicians most often use Twitter as an extension of their Web presence, a patient communication site, a marketing tool or a virtual water cooler with their colleagues. Or, maybe a combination of all four.


Detailed surgeries on twitter

Aurora Health Care, parent of Aurora St. Luke’s Medical Center, is one of a handful of hospital systems that have detailed surgeries on Twitter. It’s an inexpensive and easy way to connect with patients, and potential patients, and perhaps get a little media buzz.

The procedure Aurora decided to tweet was not randomly selected. It was a new, less-invasive approach to bilateral knee replacement, using customized tools created from virtual images of the knee.

Aurora reported more than 180 questions and comments in reply to the 250 tweets posted during the surgery. At least 75 of its messages were forwarded, or sent as “retweets,” by other Twitter users. This expands the reach to other groups of followers.

The hospital’s surgery tweeting was profiled on ABC-TV’s “Good Morning America” and got a mention on “The Oprah Winfrey Show.” Within a week after the surgery, the number of Twitter users following Aurora grew from 930 to 2,240. By mid-June, that number had passed 3,900.

Within a month of the surgery, Dr. Wallskog saw at least 10 new patients, all potential candidates for the surgery. Dr. Wallskog suspects the seed has been planted, and as the year unfolds, more new patients will come for a consultation as a result of Twitter.

4. Twitter as an extension of web presence Gwenn Schurgin O’Keeffe, MD, (@DrGwenn) a Massachusetts pediatrician who is CEO and editor of the Web site PediatricsNow, already had a pretty devoted Web following. She decided to join Twitter earlier this year as a way of extending her Dr. Gwenn brand. Dr. O’Keeffe has made contacts through Twitter that have expanded her work as a writer and media source. @DrGwenn
5. Twitter

How doctors use Twitter.

  1. Were hangin’ with everyone else.
  2. Not talkin’ about sick people.
  3. Lots of talkin’ about ourselves.
  4. Medical mindcasting.
  5. Goofin’ off.
6. CardiologyLinks.NET. (User-Generated Content site) CardiologyLinks.NET is a user powered cardiology news portal. On this social content voting site, all news is submitted by its users. Any member can submit cardiology related content to CardiologyLinks.NET, and this will enable the content to be viewed by all.

The content will be promoted or buried depending on how much it is liked by the community. The more votes the submission gets, the more popular it is. With enough votes, the piece of news will be showcased on the Front page of CardiologyLinks.NET.


Scan Grants

ScanGrants™ is designed to facilitate the search for funding sources to enhance individual and community health. The funding sources listed here may be of interest to virtually anyone associated with the health field – medical researchers, social workers, nurses, students, community-based health educators, academics and others.

Funding sources most frequently listed here include those of private foundations, corporations, businesses, and not-for profit organizations. Finding and listing less traditional funding opportunities is also a priority. Federal and state funding sources are typically not included on ScanGrants™ because they are readily available on other sites (e.g.www.grants.gov).

ScanGrants™ was developed as a tool for Samaritan Health Services and its collaborators, but it is also available for use by the general public. The listing is selective and is intended to supplement other search methods. In many instances, grant announcements have been abbreviated for the sake of brevity. To view the full grant announcement, click on the link to the source URL provided for each funding opportunity.




8. Twitter in the ER -Onze Lieve Vrouw Hospital in Belgium The team at Onze Lieve Vrouw Hospital in Belgium has made strides in improving the clinical flow and processes in their ER by incorporating the use of twitter as a novel channel. It was interesting to see that new social media technologies can be embraced seamlessly into critical system environments. They use twitter in the same way as other users but shrink the community down to just the ER. The idea is to create awareness of flow and process in emergency services. Managing and running an ER involves lots of processes inside the ER and outside, twitter makes it possible to streamline communication. It communicates assignments for dispatch, triage, doctors, and nurses. It allows one to become aware of other people and what they are doing. It can inform you of alerts, new patients in waiting room, patient overview and status, and new lab results. The instant delivery of information to the appropriate users has enabled patients and staff to be better informed and aware of what is going on in the ER.

The department uses closed group twitter accounts. No patient names are included in the tweet, just ids to maintain privacy. Accounts have access to filters to sort tweets applicable to them to reduce unnecessary chatter or information. There is no need for expensive hardware – simply create the twitter group and filters.

This case study has presented a novel way to communicate with twitter in a critical care setting and one that is as chaotic as the ER. Despite the diverse processes and at times hectic nature of the ER, twitter was shown that it can smoothen clinical workflows and improve efficiency by enabling access to augmented reality in the palm of your hand.


Hope this was useful!

Liz xxx

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