1 de marzo de 2010



TOMADO DE http://www.medscape.com/connect/blogs

Neurologists on Facebook?

Andrew Wilner, MD, Neurology, 10:58AM Feb 18, 2010

The advent of low cost and near-instantaneous communication on the internet has spawned a number of popular social media websites such as FacebookMyspace and Twitter. These sites provide an informal international forum for people to share personal and professional information. Popular topics range from golf and wine to the more esoteric, such as model railroads and medieval history. Physicians can discuss medical news, challenging clinical cases, business management, and even market their practices. Other sites such asSERMOiMedExchangeNeuroList, and Medscape's Physician Connect host medical discussion forums. These informal forums complement more traditional online medical information such as CME, noncredit courses, and medical conference coverage.
Another new communication tool that has become popular is the physician blog (like this one). Examples of physician blogs includeKevinMDDr. David's BlogDr. Val, and Pauline Chen's blog in the New York Times. Blogs differ from traditional editorial columns or Op-Ed pieces in that they allow (and encourage) reader feedback. 
In a recent survey, physician usage of social media grew 50% last year, and more among younger doctors. Even a venerable institution such as the American Academy of Neurology has its own Facebook and Twitter accounts (although the arguable more stodgy American Neurological Association has yet to embrace social networking).Medscape.com, the physician side of WebMD, also communicates with Facebook and Twitter. MedPageToday.com, another physician education site, can be followed on Twitter.
While one may wonder who has time for all this information, Facebook now has 350 million accounts, so if social networking is a passing fad, it's a popular one!
The Massachusetts Medical Society offers an online CME program "Social Networking 101 for Physicians" that alerts physicians to the potential medical-legal risks of participating in online media sites such as Facebook and Twitter. Much of the advice is common sense. For example, physicians need to protect patient confidentiality when discussing cases to comply with HIPAA (Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act) regulations. Social networking pages are not an accepted means of patient doctor communication regarding clinical care, and physicians should have a clear policy with patients regarding all confidential communication. Physicians should also preserve professional boundaries-Patients should be blocked from participating on a physician's personal Facebook page. The Massachusetts Medical Society deems the topic of social networking so important that it awards 1 hour of state-mandated Risk Management CME for physicians who pass the course.
Physicians need to be mindful that any posts to Facebook, Twitter, other internet sites, as well as their personal and professional emails, no matter how spontaneous or casual, may be indelibly engraved in the internet forever. These may be retrieved by anyone who knows how to use the Google search bar, which is just about anybody over 5 years old. To prevent embarrassment and potential lawsuits, you shouldn't write anything you wouldn't say in public, particularly negative comments about people or institutions (no matter how true!). Your comments will not only live forever in some giant data bank in the "internet cloud", but liberal use by others of the "copy and paste" edit function enables your comments to circle the globe faster then you can say "woops!" "Pause before you post" is a good maxim for self preservation.
For journalists, social networking sites can help attract a larger audience. Nicholas Kristof, one of my favorite New York Times correspondents, commented on his participation in social media in an interview in the latest issue of TimeOutNewYork.com (February 18-24, 2010). When asked why he used multiple platforms, Mr. Kristof observed, "I really think that is part of the way to continue to engage audiences. I can engage old white men in my column and then I can engage teenyboppers with my Facebook pages...We need to try to evolve, and so that's one reason why I shoot videos for the New York Times Website, why I blog, why I Twitter, why I Facebook, Why I have a YouTube channel."
Personally, I have just scratched the surface of Facebook and Twitter, and I am awed by their potential. For the moment, I use them to post the title and hyperlink of my regularly appearing blogs (NeuroNotes), monthly epilepsy updates (EpilepsyNotes), and other articles that I write. Twitter followers can elect to receive these "tweets" on their computers, cell phones, or go to the Twitter site to see what's new. To sign up for these brief messages, click "follow" on my Twitter site.
As neurologists and other physicians become more comfortable with social media, hopefully they will enjoy their participation, avoid medical-legal entanglements, and at least some of the information they glean from communicating with their colleagues will benefit their patients.

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