Twitter could be new wave for medical news

According to a feature article in the Medical Connectivity section of the latest issue of Telemedicine and e-Health, Twitter could be the next media wave for spreading health for spreading health care information, and medical updates in real time. Twitter is fast becoming more than a social site, and way to remain in touch with friends. Tweets are being recognized by the medical community as a valuable way to spread medical news.

A caveat is the sensitivity of medical issues and updates. Though hospitals, physicians groups, and other healthcare organizations are recognizing the potential of Twitter for communicating to patients, families and the public, caution is needed to ensure accuracy and confidentiality.

Twitter can be used to alert the public to new releases from the CDC, disasters, drug safety warnings, and other health news or warnings. The information is fast spreading.

Joseph C. Kvedar, MD, Director of the Center for Connected Health (Partners Healthcare System, Boston, MA), quoted in the article, says “One way to look at Twitter is as a method of mass communication. It allows people to “text 30 people or 50 or 100 people, whatever the number is who are following you.”

Michael Lara, M.D., is a board-certified psychiatrist and neurologist practicing in Belmont, California and author of the blog “BrainTwits of Michael Lara, MD: Musings on Mind, Brain and Body in the Age of the Internet” says, “For instance, I’ll get a tweet from one of my office staff, if I’m not in my office, saying that Mrs. Jones has canceled her 3:00 appointment.”Lara says Twitter can reach more people simultaneously than texting or e-mailing.

Telemedicine is expected to play an increasingly important role in health care. Twitter could find a role in healthcare that includes disseminating medical news and health information, tweeting to colleagues from medical conferences, and keeping abreast of new drug developments.

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