One of the longstanding problems of health publishing has been that the GPs tend to speak amongst themselves, and so do the various types of specialists, and the nurses, and so on. There have been few places where all of the various groups and interests come together, and even fewer where patients and the general public are included.
This has tended to reinforce unhelpful silos, as well as keeping a focus on professional, bureaucratic and commercial interests rather than the broader public interest.
But the digital revolution may be helping to poke some holes in these silo walls.
Last night on Twitter, a diverse group came together online to discuss personally controlled electronic health records. There was a public health researcher, a pharmacist from a remote area, a scientist, a health IT whizz, a medical supplies industry person, a member of the general public and some others, including a journalist.
You can see a transcript of the discussion here.
The founders of the #hcsmanz discussion group (healthcare and social media in Australia and New Zealand) have written more below about what it is, how it works, and how you can join in. They also critique the AMA’s new guidelines on social media.
What can Twitter and social media offer health care?
Ben Harris-Roxas, Andrew Roberts, and Ed Butler write:
Twitter has been in the news in Australia recently. Mainly due to The Australian newspaper outing a pseudonymous blogger and recently threatening to sue a journalism academic. A view that seems to have been taken by some in the media is that Twitter is full of anonymous troublemakers defaming away left, right and centre.
The AMA recently released a guide, Social Media and the Medical Profession. It gained a moderate amount of media attention but was met with some scepticism on Twitter. Why?
The 14-page guide has a lot of sensible practical and legal advice for medical practitioners using social media. The problem is that in doing so it focuses on almost entirely on the risks of using social media.
Maintaining privacy, professional boundaries and limiting defamation are major themes. As one person said about the guide, “it’s “more scary than constructive I think”.
The benefits of using social media are glossed over in the guide. These are often dismissed by people who don’t use social media but they can be profound:
Social media has enabled us to find out new professional information, be exposed to new ideas, engage in professional debates and extend our networks. The three of us met through using Twitter – a connection that was unlikely to occur through other means. Online discussion about the AMA guide acted as a catalyst for setting up an Australian forum for discussing health and social media.
We have set up #hcsmanz, an online discussion group about healthcare and social media in Australia and New Zealand. It’s based on the successful HCSM discussions that already run in the US and the EU.
We held our first “Tweetup” on Sunday, December 5, to discuss the AMA guide. We had about 20 participants from nursing, medicine, pharmacy, public health, IT and other fields. You can read through the transcript here.
Some interesting resources were shared including:
- Social Media – Telstra’s 3 Rs of Social Media Engagement (PDF) <http://www.telstra.com.au/abouttelstra/download/document/social-media-company-policy-final-150409.pdf?red=/at/m/d/smcpf150409pdf>
- Literature Review on the Effectiveness of the Use of Social Media: A report for Peel Public Health <http://www.ncceh.ca/en/node/9534> , and
- IT, Professionalism, and Your Digital Identity <http://prezi.com/clscatfgx4mf/it-professionalism-and-your-digital-identity/> – a presentation by Dr Stuart Morrison for fifth year medical students at Monash University. Stuart was involved in the development of the AMA guide.
We’ll be holding regular discussions every Sunday evening at 22:00NZ, 20:00AEDT, 19:00AEST, 19:30ACDT, 17:00AWST.
Social media is more than risks. It’s quick, it’s interactive, it’s a discussion. Most importantly, it’s fun. We look forward to seeing you on Sunday.
• Ben Harris-Roxas works in public health at UNSW in Sydney.
Andrew Roberts is a pharmacist in remote Central Australia.
Ed Butler works in healthcare IT in Brisbane.
They convene the #hcsmanz chat and met through Twitter.
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• Check out the Croakey Delicious Archive (there are plenty of articles about social media, public health, conflicts of interest in health care, developments in health journalism, and more)