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Breaking Oncology News: Can It Spread Socially?

I [recently] received a press release from a friend in the Bay Area. Investigators at UCSF have published a study in the New England Journal of Medicine showing that less chemotherapy can be effective at treating some childhood cancers.

The paper was the result of an eight-year clinical study in children with neuroblastoma. In this particular population, researchers were able to reduce chemotherapy exposure by 40 percent while maintaining a 90 percent survival rate. You can read about it here.

The press release sparked a brief email exchange between me and my friend: Who might be interested in writing about this study and is there any way to get it to spread?  What would make it sticky in the eyes of the public?

Here are a few ideas:

Figure out who cares. Sure it’s niche news, but there are people who would think this is pretty darn important. Think organizations centered on parents of children with cancer, adult survivors of childhood cancer, pediatric hematology-oncology physicians, pediatricians and allied professionals in pediatric medicine like nurse practitioners and hematology-oncology nurses. Networks form around these groups. Find them and seed them.

Make a video. Offer powerful, visual content beyond a press release. A four-minute clip with the principal investigator, Dr. Matthay, would be simple and offer dimension to what is now something restricted to print. The Mayo Clinic has done this really well. Read more »

*This blog post was originally published at 33 Charts*

Should Doctors Be Socially Anonymous?

I don’t think doctors should be socially anonymous. We need to be seen. Here’s why going underground isn’t good policy for physicians:

Anonymity makes you say stupid things. When you’re shouting from the crowd it’s easy to talk smack.  Come up to the podium, clear your throat, and say something intelligent. You’re a physician, not a hooligan.

It’s 2010: Anonymity died a long time ago. You think anonymity offers shelter? You’re funny, you are. Anonymity is a myth. You can create a cockamamie pseudonym, but you can’t hide.  And if I don’t find you, the plaintiff attorneys will. They found Flea.

Being a weanie is no excuse. Just as you’re unlikely to consult a lawyer before speaking at a cocktail party, commenting as Dr. You is unlikely to kill you or land you in court. Just a few pointers: Don’t talk about patients, help people out, and be nice. Trust me, I’m a doctor. Read more »

*This blog post was originally published at 33 Charts*

Tweetchat For Doctors?

Lately there’s been talk of a tweetchat for doctors. The issue has surfaced on Twitter over the past couple of weeks. The idea is out there –- the genie’s out of the bottle. There will be a tweetchat for physicians. But I’m not sure we need it. We may want to think about why we need a Twitter discussion group and what we’d like to get out of it.

I look at tweetchats like I look at medical meetings: I go to see old friends in one place. Most of what’s discussed was public long before the meeting. The most interesting stuff happens in the hallway. With that said I still go to medical meetings. But it’s usually to cultivate relationships. And tweetchats do accomplish that.

I like to participate in tweetchats to see who shows up. I like to look at how people behave, how they meet the challenge of open-ended questions in the limits of 140 characters. It’s really interesting to watch those who think they have the answers. I like to see who actually takes the process so seriously that they can’t crack a joke and have a little fun (this tells me the most). Read more »

*This blog post was originally published at 33 Charts*

Recent Readings On Social Media In Medicine

Here are a few papers and publications focusing on how social media can be used in medicine, healthcare and science. These represent the evidence-based approach in social media:

Google docs: a better method than a paper clinical schedule. Kippenbrock T, Holloway E, Moore DD. Comput Inform Nurs. 2010 May-Jun;28(3):138-40.

How to get the most from the medical literature: keeping up to date in nephrology. Cullis J, Webster AC. Nephrology (Carlton). 2010 Apr;15(3):269-76.

Twitter: consider the possibilities for continuing nursing education. Billings DM, Kowalski K, Bristol TJ. J Contin Educ Nurs. 2010 May;41(5):199-200.

Literature search on risk factors for sarcoma: PubMed and Google Scholar may be complementary sources. Mastrangelo G, Fadda E, Rossi CR, Zamprogno E, Buja A, Cegolon L. BMC Res Notes. 2010 May 10;3(1):131.

Effect of visual media use on school performance: a prospective study. Sharif I, Wills TA, Sargent JD. J Adolesc Health. 2010 Jan;46(1):52-61.

Patients’ Evaluations of Health Care Providers in the Era of Social Networking: An Analysis of Physician-Rating Websites. Lagu T, Hannon NS, Rothberg MB, Lindenauer PK. J Gen Intern Med. 2010 May 13.

Tweeting science and ethics: social media as a tool for constructive public engagement. Regenberg AC. Am J Bioeth. 2010 May;10(5):30-1.

*This blog post was originally published at ScienceRoll*

A “Dream” For Healthcare Reform

Lucien Engelen, organizer of Medicine 2.0 (Maastricht, November 2010) and TEDxMaastricht (March 2011) sent us a video message about reforming healthcare when we attended the Healthcare Social Media Camp in Berlin last week:

*This blog post was originally published at ScienceRoll*

Latest Interviews

IDEA Labs: Medical Students Take The Lead In Healthcare Innovation

It’s no secret that doctors are disappointed with the way that the U.S. healthcare system is evolving. Most feel helpless about improving their work conditions or solving technical problems in patient care. Fortunately one young medical student was undeterred by the mountain of disappointment carried by his senior clinician mentors…

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How To Be A Successful Patient: Young Doctors Offer Some Advice

I am proud to be a part of the American Resident Project an initiative that promotes the writing of medical students residents and new physicians as they explore ideas for transforming American health care delivery. I recently had the opportunity to interview three of the writing fellows about how to…

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Latest Book Reviews

Book Review: Is Empathy Learned By Faking It Till It’s Real?

I m often asked to do book reviews on my blog and I rarely agree to them. This is because it takes me a long time to read a book and then if I don t enjoy it I figure the author would rather me remain silent than publish my…

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The Spirit Of The Place: Samuel Shem’s New Book May Depress You

When I was in medical school I read Samuel Shem s House Of God as a right of passage. At the time I found it to be a cynical yet eerily accurate portrayal of the underbelly of academic medicine. I gained comfort from its gallows humor and it made me…

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Eat To Save Your Life: Another Half-True Diet Book

I am hesitant to review diet books because they are so often a tangled mess of fact and fiction. Teasing out their truth from falsehood is about as exhausting as delousing a long-haired elementary school student. However after being approached by the authors’ PR agency with the promise of a…

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