Social Media and Healthcare
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Social Media and Healthcare
Articles and Discussions on the  intersection of Social Media and Healthcare. Relevant to Healthcare Practitioners, Pharma', Insurance, Clinicians, Labs, Health IT Vendors, Health Marketeers, Health Policy Makers, Hospital Administrators.
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Incorporating Social Media into Medical Education

Slides from Social Media workshop for medical educators at Academic Internal Medicine Week 2010. Presenters represent 3 different universities and different rol
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What the Khan Academy Teaches Us About What Medical Education Will Look Like Ten Years

What the Khan Academy Teaches Us About What Medical Education Will Look Like Ten Years | Social Media and Healthcare |

From SFO, I carefully followed my Droid Navigator’s directions off Highway 101 into a warren of non-descript low-slung office buildings—non-descript except for the telltale proliferation of Google signs and young adults riding colorful Google bikes.  I drove around to the back of several of those complexes and finally found the correct numbered grouping.  It really could have been any office or doctors’ office complex in the U.S.  The Khan suite is on the second floor. 


There’s a simple brass plate saying “Khan Academy” on what looked like oak double doors. I let myself in and immediately encountered a large, central open space—with long dining tables, food, an ample sitting area with couches conducive for group discussions—and a friendly greeting by programmers and staff.  Oh, and computers—there were lots of computers.  As far as I could tell, nobody had their own office—though maybe Sal does.  Everyone was also open, friendly and passionate about the great work happening there.


After some trial and error, Rishi and I found an unused office and huddled around his Mac for a Google Hangout interview with a Bay Area reporter about the Khan/RWJF health care education project.  Later, I met with Shantanu, the Khan COO and former “math jock” high school friend of Sal, as well as Charlotte, external relations, and Matt, software engineer. They’re all long termers at Khan—that means they’ve been there for about two years.  Overall, the energy was pretty electric.  One other small thing—do not be fooled—these incredible people are, how should I put it—ferociously—intense and focused.


Pioneers in flipping the med school classroom

The next morning, Rishi and I met at Stanford Medical School—in the Li Ka Shing Center for Learning and Knowledge—an enormous and beautiful building off Campus Drive near the hospital that did not exist back in my days as an earnest Stanford law student.   We were there to observe some pioneers in medical education attempt to use Khan-like videos to flip the medical school classroom.  This work at Stanford is part of the currentKhan Academy and RWJF collaboration. We’re trying to understand what happens when a medical school attempts to use the Khan-style videos to change the classroom interaction.


The class we observed was an ECG Cardiology course.  The professor, Dr. Paul Wang, was everything you’d want from a teacher—smart, informed, compassionate, patient—and popular with his students.  The students were great—also smart—and empowered.  Several noted that they liked viewing the video before class.  In fact, at one point, a number of female students grouped around Rishi—once they discovered he was the man behind the Khan medical school curriculum videos—and gushed.  I momentarily flashed to black and white footage of Beatle-mania.


This Stanford class-flipping experience is new—in fact, it’s just a week old—so I got to see it at its beginning.  In the first hour, Dr. Wang essentially gave the video lecture again.  In the subsequent two- hour small group sessions, the students worked with teachers on ECG problem-solving and games.  They engaged well with the teachers and each other—and seemed to be using new vocabulary and identifying ECG patterns pretty adeptly by the end.


The dean, Dr. Charles Prober—a Stanford Medical School champion of moving medical education content into YouTube format and onto the Khan platform— was there.  Another local champion of this work, Dr. Drew Patterson, associate professor of anesthesiology, was there as well.  These leaders, Drs. Prober, Patterson and Wang, are creative and brave people.  They are trying to bring the first ripples of widening care transformation to fortress academia, and no doubt the status quo will not adjust quietly.  Both Drs. Prober and Patterson spoke passionately about the enormous potential of this technology along with changing attitudes about medical education.  They are trying hard to get their medical school to embrace that change and help lead it.


Facing massive changes and challenges

This new work is not without problems, of course.  In fact, it’s pretty challenging.  Rishi and I witnessed early baby steps.  Drs. Prober and Patterson readily admit that they would like to rely more on videos, better empower students to teach themselves based on those videos and more quickly change the role of teachers to be more like coaches.   Rishi and I also, though, wondered about waves of transformation hitting health care now—around, for example, patient empowerment and professional accountability for results and decreased cost.  Those massive changes include efforts to alter the dynamic both between the professional and the patients and among various health care professionals.  Those challenges are enormous and could swamp fledgling incremental efforts to help a few medical students learn well and efficiently.  Right now—in this interesting experiment—these teachers are not yet training for that new day.  I say, though, give them time.


Rishi and I also talked about an even more worrisome point.  What if in the near future much of this learning becomes anachronistically analog?  Imagine the coming proliferation of Watson-like artificial intelligence in health care.  On our visit we observed bright minds learning how to “read ECGs.”  That’s what medical students have done since ECGs came to medicine—that’s part of what medical students must learn.  What about when things change, though?  It’s not too much of a leap to imagine that a device will simply inform teams—including the patient, by the way—of the definitive ECG reading.  All this learning about how to read ECGs would then be superfluous—an “FYI.”  What then?  My guess is that we’ll need professionals who are very adept at taking that knowledge and working together with patients do the actual healing—you know like Bones on Star Trek.


We have a lot of work to do.

Michael W. Painter, JD, MD is the senior program officer at the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation. This post originally appeared on the RWJF Pioneer Blog.

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Medical Schools Using Social Media for Faculty Development

Medical Schools Using Social Media for Faculty Development | Social Media and Healthcare |

Physicians and scientists at academic medical centers face many competing demands for their time. Efforts to help them improve their teaching or scholarship traditionally have taken place in face-to-face lunchtime workshops. As clinical volume and the difficulty of obtaining external funding increases, faculty members have less opportunities to devote to their own professional development.

Researchers from BUSM and BUSPH surveyed the websites of all 154 accredited medical schools in the U.S. and Canada to locate examples where medical schools have used social media to engage with faculty in a virtual environment. Their findings were recently reported in Medical Education Online.

The researchers found 22 medical schools (14.3 percent) employed at least one social media technology tool in support of faculty development. In total, 40 instances of social media tools were identified — the most popular platforms being Facebook (nine institutions), Twitter (eight institutions) and blogs (eight institutions). Four medical schools have developed integrated strategies to engage faculty in online communities. “Our results show that only a few medical schools, including BUSM, are experimenting with online tools to boost faculty productivity and effectiveness,” said senior author Christopher Shanahan, MD, assistant professor of medicine at BUSM.

According to the researchers, although relatively few medical schools have embraced social media to promote faculty development, the present range of such uses demonstrates the flexibility and affordability of the tools. “The most popular tools incorporate well into faculty members’ existing use of technology and require minimal additional effort,” added Shanahan. The researchers believe more research into the benefits of engaging faculty through social media may help overcome hesitation to invest in new technologies.

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Can Social Media Expand the Audience For Medical Research Articles

Can Social Media Expand the Audience For Medical Research Articles | Social Media and Healthcare |
The use of social media tools, for the purpose of releasing an article in the clinical pain sciences, increases the number of views and downloads

The use of social media tools – Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and – for the purpose of releasing an article in the clinical pain sciences increases the number of people who view the article and download it. Social media tools also have implications for the dissemination of medical research articles in other fields.


Generally, anyone interested in accessing research articles either utilizes a research database such as Pubmed or simply follows a few specific journals. As a result, many articles go unnoticed because end users who could benefit from them lack the time to find them. In addition, those who have time to search these databases may be overwhelmed with lots of articles that are not relevant to their needs.

Approach to Address Problem

The researchers selected 16 PLOS ONE articles using four inclusion criteria relevant to the clinical pain sciences, first published online between 2006 and 2011, of interest to readers of a research group blog (, and not previously mentioned in a blog post on The articles were assigned randomly to four researchers who wrote blog posts on them, comprised of approximately 500 words and a link to the online version of the article. These blog posts were randomly assigned two dates: one date for a social media release and one date as a control. The control is not well explained by the researchers and appears to represent a period where nothing is being done to promote the article.


The key innovation in this research project was the use of social media to push research information to end users instead of waiting on the end users to “pull” the information from a database.

Key Results

The key result was a statistically significant increase in HTML views and PDF downloads one week after the blog posts when comparing the control date and the social media release date  (p < .05). However, none of the measures of social media reach, engagement, or virality related to the outcome variable. Hence, some other unknown factors are affecting HTML views and PDF downloads.

Implications for clinicians/health care system

Better dissemination of research can save clinicians time by improving the efficiency of information uptake by them. This is useful for health care systems because this is one of the many ways that a health system can improve its quality. One of the challenges is making sure that the information coming from social media is well catered to the needs of clinicians.

Implications for public health

Improved dissemination of research could also provide benefits to the public. In the case of patients or lay individuals, social media can be used to send not only research articles, but lay translations of the information in order to increase the probability of more people understanding the information. This can contribute to increasing health literacy of individuals.
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A conversation about digital literacy in medical education

A conversation about digital literacy in medical education | Social Media and Healthcare |

A strong advocate for including digital literacy in medical education, self-described “geek medical futurist” Bertalan Meskó, MD, PhD, believes that online communication tools, such as social media, can improve the way medicine is practiced and health care is delivered. His interest in technology and health care led him to create a university course focusing on bringing the web into medical practice and to launch Webicina, which offers curated social media resources in 140 topics and 20 languages for patients and medical professionals for free.


In September, Meskó will lead a Master Class on how to teach social media in the context of health sciences as part of the Stanford Medicine X conference. Interested to know more about the class, I contacted him to discuss his approach for incorporating digital literacy into medical school curriculum. Below he discusses, among other things, top trends in social media and health care and why medical professionals should take an evidence-based approach to social media.


Why do you believe that medical students and professionals should engage in social media?

Being a medical professional means we constantly have to communicate with patients, our peers and even with information. Since social media is now an integrated part of communication, medical professionals must deal with this as well. [It's] the responsibility of doctors to deal with e-patients properly and use the Internet in a meaningful and efficient way.

It is getting more complicated to keep ourselves up-to-date and get medical answers when we have really hard questions, but social media can be useful if used with strategy and design. This is why we have to teach how to properly use these tools.


During a 2011 keynote speech at Doctors 2.0 & You, you advocated for health-care providers to take an evidence-based approach to social media. Can you explain why this strategy is important and how you use it in your own practice?

Including social media solutions in any industry can be a fast and efficient process, but medicine works in a different way. I was trained to embrace evidence-based medicine and I use that approach when teaching social media. There are platforms and solutions that might be fantastic and useful in health care, although sometimes when these are tested in practice, they fail compared to traditional methods.

By using the evidence-based approach, I mean that we should not include something immediately in medicine just because it is about social media… We have to test everything to make sure it’s truly useful.


What are some of the top trends you’re seeing in social media and health care?

Platforms come and go. I’m glad to see that trends are now more about meaningful use. There are fewer medical mobile apps downloaded, and people spending their precious time online seem to use the web in a more efficient way. If I have to mention certain trends, I would say Twitter seems to be the top platform for communication; gamification seems to be the best way to motivate students (the Septris app is a good example); people tend to realize they need to know their communities if they want to crowdsource medical questions; and curation of social media is key; while wearable technologies such as Google Glass will definitely add new practices to using social media.

But the practice of medicine must still take place in real life, and these digital technologies can only be useful after an established relationship between the patient and the doctor.

In 2008, you introduced the Social Media in Medicine course at the University of Debrecen, Medical and Health Science Center in Hungary. In creating the course, what was your process for selecting which topics and platforms to cover?

I was lucky from two perspectives. First, I tried and evaluated all the social-media platforms myself – from Wikipedia to medical blogging to crowdsourcing a diagnosis on Twitter. Second, the university committee gave me a chance [for this pilot class] to make decisions about the content. Since every student filled in online surveys before and after each semester, I’ve got a lot of data based on which changes I made to the curriculum. Due to the basic nature of social media, I must constantly change some parts of the content to meet today’s expectations.

I wanted to show the medical use of a range of social platforms and also wanted to transmit concepts to the students. This is why I launched the course with a series of 13 lectures [on topics ranging] from using e-mails to the future of web.

How has the Social Media in Medicine curriculum evolved over the past five years?

Last year, I moved the course to Semmelweis University, a medical school with over 240 years of history. Now it runs with full house every semester in English and Hungarian. The curriculum represents today’s social media trends (in 2008, I mentioned Twitter in a lecture, now a whole week is dedicated to microblogging) and I also implemented some new approaches.

As all the students in the course are on Facebook, this semester they worked for bonus points on the Facebook page of the course by answering questions about digital literacy every single day. The winner did not have to take the exam last week.

The course has a website where all the lectures, hand-outs and notes are available and students can take tests.

Moreover, using my large social network I try to get a prototype of every important development in medical technology, such as AliveCor ECG and other devices. Students can use these in practice; I really try to train them for the world of technological advances by the time they graduate from medical school.

How would you advise medical schools to encourage students and educators to proactively use social media?

The only way to fill health care with technology-savvy medical professionals is to train them like that. Therefore I don’t think that encouragement is the best solution - but first digital literacy should be included in the medical curriculum as well as in post-graduate education.

Maintaining an exemplary social-media presence is certainly a good start for medical schools. But to persuade students and educators to proactively use social media, good practical examples have to be demonstrated to them. In my experience, this is the best strategy.

What specific tips can you share for medical educators who want to leverage the power of social media by incorporating interactive content into existing curriculum?

For this, educators should first check the digital landscape of the topics they teach by searching for relevant content, resources and even mobile apps. They should listen to other educators who are already active online.

The most important thing here is a quote I’ve been using for years: “If you want to teach me, you first have to reach me.” Therefore I love going to the platforms that my students are already using. This semester it was Facebook, and I managed to teach them and test their knowledge on that platform. It was a real win-win situation.

All medical educators should design a new approach in transmitting the knowledge to students by analyzing what they do online. We do the same thing in the offline world by coming up with new textbooks and creating engaging presentations - why would we not do that online as well?

- See more at:

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Social Media for Residency Programs – #ABIM, #FOAMed, #MedEd

Social Media for Residency Programs – #ABIM, #FOAMed, #MedEd | Social Media and Healthcare |

There has been a lot of discussion lately around the use of social media in medical education. The topic has been researched, discussed and analyzed. Our favorite social media tool for ABIM exam review / medical education is twitter. The platform provides a convenient way to teach, learn from, and connect with others interested in medical education. Our belief is that it can be a powerful tool for residency programs to enhance medical education for their residents. Below is our list of the top internal medicine residency programs using twitter as an education tool:

East Carolina University (@ecuimchiefs) – Internal medicine pearls, trivia, and ABIM exam style clinical vignette questions

University of Chicago (@MedChiefs) – Great internal medicine pearls and information to stay current on what’s happening

University of Texas Health and Science Center in San Antonio (@UTHSCSAIMres) – Great use of twitter for internal medicine board exam prep

New Hanover Regional Medical Center (@NHRMC_IM) – Sharing pearls useful for ABIM board exam review

Thomas Jefferson University Hospital (@JeffIMchiefs) – Sharing pearls and valuable medical education articles

University of Nebraska Medical Center (@UNMCIMResidency) – Use of twitter to update residents on conferences and seminars

University of Florida (@UFGenIM) – Sharing important medical education articles

West Virginia University (@WVUim) - Occassional board pearls and RTs of important NEJM articles

There are a few other residency programs on twitter but the posts are few and far in-between. Here’s hoping other IM residency programs follow the lead of the programs above and begin using twitter to provide medical education to their residents! Fortunately, there are some top notch educators have joined twitter to provide #FOAMed (Free Open Access Medical Education). Below is our attempt to list some of the best educators for medical education and internal medicine (ABIM) exam prep.

This is by no means a complete list – In fact, there are a lot more educators and #FOAMed enthusiasts that are on twitter. This is simply a small list of people to follow for Internal Medicine Board exam prep. Even then – we are certain we have missed some really great handles! We’ll keep updating it.

We are also counting on our twitter followers to help make this the best list possible:

Knowmedge (@knowmedge) Salim Rezaie (@srrezaie)UTHSCSA Pearls (@UTHSCSAPearls)Internal Medicine (@IMMemorandum)Medicinemia (@Medicinemia)Joel Topf (@kidney_boy)Edgar V. Lerma (@edgarvlermamd)Haney Mallemat (@Criticalcarenow)Nikita Joshi (@njoshi8)Matt Astin (@mastinmd)Conrad Fischer (@SeeFisch)David Marcus (@EMIMDoc)FOAM Highlights (@FOAM_Highlights)Javier Benetiz (@jvrbntz)Natalie May (@_NMay)

While this post is focused on use of twitter for internal medicine education / ABIM, we would be remiss if we didn’t point out a couple of great #FOAMed lists – GoogleFOAM and Dave Townsend’s “Internet Resources for Medical Students”. Twitter is a fantastic tool for education – there is already a strong and growing #FOAMed and #MedEd community that exists.

If you or your medical residency program are not already on twitter, we highly recommend joining in the conversation! Happy tweeting! #ABIM #MedEd #FOAMed

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Professional use of social media in medical education

Lecture to first year uOttawa medical students by Pat Rich and Ann Fuller
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