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Using Social Media in Oncology

Using Social Media in Oncology

The increasing popularity and use of social media in medicine offers great opportunities for healthcare professionals and their institutions to interact with patients and colleagues at a pace that has never before been possible. For oncologists, the variety of web-based and mobile technologies that make up social media allow for patient education and authoritative health messaging. Professional development and knowledge sharing, as well as increased direct patient interaction, are other attributes of these technologies. However, while social media offers great potential in healthcare, oncologists must be aware of the possible legal and privacy issues that come along with its use. The Value of Social Media According to Don S. Dizon, MD, FACP, the immediate past-chair and member of the Integrated Media and Technology Committee from the American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO), social media lends itself specifically to oncology for the very reason that the field appears to be evolving quickly. “Determining the social media outlets that present the most benefit to oncologists depends on each practitioner’s needs,” he says (Table 1). Twitter appears to hold significant value for oncologists, explains Dr. Dizon, who was also the lead author of an article published in the Journal of Oncology Practice that provides clinicians with guidance on using social media in oncology. “This is primarily because users have the ability to preselect individuals to follow to suit their own specific needs,” he says. “Users can also create lists to further streamline tweeted content. I have separate lists for people who tweet about their experiences with cancer, cancer centers, news disseminators, and colleagues.” Dr. Dizon adds that one of the best uses...

Emergency Medicine Info on the Web

A recent national survey reported that 60% of adults access health information online. Although the internet can be a helpful resource for many consumers, prior studies have suggested that the accessibility and accuracy of web-based health information are not always adequate. When patients can correctly identify risk factors and symptoms of potential medical emergencies, appropriate and timely medical care may be provided. Health information gathered from the internet may impact medical choices and outcomes. Improvements of Medical Info on the Internet In the November 2011 issue of Western Journal of Emergency Medicine, my colleagues and I published results from a study in which we sought to determine whether the completeness and accuracy of emergency medical information available online has improved over time. We evaluated medical content (descriptive information, completeness, and accuracy) on the top 15 healthcare information sites, as determined by internet traffic, for four common ED diagnoses: myocardial infarction, stroke, influenza, and febrile child. Online Exclusive: Table of Most Accurate Medical Websites According to our findings, the completeness and accuracy of online emergency medical information available to the general public has improved since 2002. Only two of 12 of the websites reviewed in 2002 boasted greater than 50% of aggregated medical information. In our study, 11 of 12 websites accomplished this feat. In addition, seven contained greater than 70% of aggregated medical information on the four common ED diagnoses we analyzed. None of the websites reviewed in 2008 contained questionable or dangerous information or recommendations, representing an improvement since 2002. Importantly, our analysis did not find a significant correlation between credentialing and completeness of website or credentialing and...

Evaluating Online Scoliosis Info

An exploration of the top 100 websites from searches of “scoliosis” using the five most commonly used search engines suggests that the overall quality of information on the condition appears to be poor despite exponential growth in the number of available sites in recent years. Researchers suggest that patients be directed to academic and physician-provided websites for the highest quality information. Abstract: Spine, October 1, 2012....

A Look at Online Health Users

Findings from the Bupa Health Pulse survey suggest that there are more ways to access health information on the internet than ever before, but few people check the source of this information. The report, available at www.bupa.com, found that 81% of those with internet access used it to search for advice about health, drugs, or medical conditions. About 68% did so to look for information about specific medicines, and nearly 40% used it to look for other...
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