For those with an interest in the implications of social media for public health and health care, here are some recent links (they are in two parts – the first is related to medicine and the second to public health):

Social media and medicine

• This article published by the New England Journal of Medicine Careers Centre gives an indepth and informative overview of how doctors in the US are using social media – and the potential benefits and risks involved. It also profiles some new business ventures in the medico-blogosphere.

• How American doctors are using Twitter et al to market themselves and their services.

• And to find jobs.

• How one American doctor is blogging to help answer the general public’s questions and concerns about healthcare.

• This blog introduced me to a new concept – group visits or shared medical appointments, comprised of patients with similar medical conditions. A medical team, typically including a doctor, nurse, and other support staff, counsel patients as a group, and address issues common to everyone in the room. Sounds like an excellent way of helping to address workforce shortages, waiting lists etc.

• In a similar vein, could greater use of online consultations help overcome workforce shortages?

• How doctors can use social media to help patients.

• Can doctors afford not to engage with social media?

• This post by a US physician-blogger is mainly aimed at helping the markerters of the world how to engage effectively with doctors using social media.

• Doctors love to moan about patients using the internet to source health information, but they’re doing it too.

• There are concerns about the inappropriate use of social media, especially by medical students.  And this is about the potential dangers of online consultations.

• This is the first of a three-part series on using social media to engage with the carers of hospice patients.

• No wonder – given the proliferation (at least in the US) of health professionals as bloggers – there is a new program to teach doctors how to become journalists (run by a journalism school).


Social media and public health

• This is a terrific presentation on how social media can foster innovation in public health. It is by Dr Jody Ranck, Director of Health Horizons and Global Health, at The Institute for The Future. He was previously Director of the Technological Politics Program at the Sustainable Sciences Institute in San Francisco.

• How social media is changing disaster relief.

• Some iPhone applications may not be as healthy as they make out.

• And on a similar theme.

This is a new SMS-based service which aims to promote maternal health and reduce the number of babies born prematurely in the US. Text4baby, is a free mobile information service that sends health tips via text message three times a week.

• National Public Radio had an interesting discussion recently on “communicating science in a post-newspaper era”.

I particularly liked this quote from Deborah Blum, professor of journalism at University of Wisconsin in Madison:

Prof. BLUM: “Well, I teach journalism, and so I have to say to myself, I’m not going to teach my past. It’s not interesting to me, and what interests me about the changing landscape of journalism is the opportunities that I hope it has for us to do things better, to find different audiences, to approach people about science in different ways. It allows us to build new voices, and I try to teach that, and I try to do it myself.”

It’s a comment that has some broader resonance for the health care and public health spheres, perhaps.

Meanwhile, I do apologise that so many of the links above are to US sites – perhaps it’s a reflection of who I’m following on Twitter (where I found many of them). Or perhaps it suggests that the uptake of social media by the US health industry has been quicker and more extensive than in Australia. Do you have any thoughts on this?

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