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Who’s Really Overcrowding The ER?

If you think the overcrowding in emergency rooms across the country is because of the uninsured, think again.

A new study in the Annals of Emergency Medicine reports that of patients who are frequent users (over 4 times a year) of emergency departments (ED), the uninsured represent only 15 percent of those frequent users.

Also, the frequent ED users were more likely than occasional users to have visited a primary care physician in the previous year.

They also found that most patients who frequently use the ED have health insurance and the majority of users (60 percent) were white. These findings contradict the widely held assumption that frequent users are minorities or illegal immigrants without insurance. Read more »

*This blog post was originally published at EverythingHealth*

When Patients Attack Doctors And Nurses

With the attention rightly focused on patient safety, what about healthcare workers? It’s somewhat of a hidden phenomenon, but attacks on doctors and nurses are on the rise.

Rahul Parikh writes about this in a recent Slate piece. He cites data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, which found “healthcare workers are twice as likely as those in other fields to experience an injury from a violent act at work, with nurses being the most common victims.”

In the article, Parikh goes on to detail an attack on a physician who initially refused to give his patient opioid pain medications. Read more »

*This blog post was originally published at KevinMD.com*

Social Media Tips For Healthcare Professionals

Whenever I talk about medical professionals using social media, people are surprised by what I say. Most people think they can hide online and never have to reveal their real identity. I think they are wrong. In the online world, it’s much easier to find out private information about someone who wasn’t cautious enough than in real life. A recent example includes Doctors warned of Facebook flirts (e-Health article):

The Medical Defence Union said it was aware of a number of cases where patients have attempted to proposition doctors by sending them an unsolicited message on Facebook or similar sites. The medical defence body said it would be “wholly inappropriate” to respond to a patient making an advance in such a way. Read more »

*This blog post was originally published at ScienceRoll*

Finding Health Care Professionals on Twitter

My social Network on Flickr, Facebook, Twitter...Image by luc legay via Flickr

A little over a year ago, before Twitter was the tech/pop culture phenomenon it is today, doctors like myself had a problem: how do you identify other health professionals on Twitter? (At the time, there must have been at least dozens. Dozens.)

This was the first solution. In retrospect, it was hilariously cobbled-together:

This is a feed containing the conversations of all known doctors and medical students who use Twitter: http://feeds.feedburner.com/doctorsontwitter. (If that doesn’t work, you can try the original feed from Yahoo Pipes instead.) Technical details, for those interested: I used this list of doctors/medical students on Kidney Notes, ran each person’s Twitter feed through Yahoo Pipes, then burned a FeedBurner feed.

When FriendFeed debuted, I created “The Doctor’s Room,” which was populated by both Twitter feeds and RSS feeds of physicians. Unfortunately, the “room” feature was poorly designed by FriendFeed (which has since been acquired by Facebook). Like the Yahoo Pipes experiment, the FriendFeed room was an educational failure. Read more »

This post, Finding Health Care Professionals on Twitter, was originally published on Healthine.com by Joshua Schwimmer, M.D..

The Value Of Twitter To Doctors & Nurses

I use Twitter and I like it.  As a registered nurse, twitter helps me promote health and wellness and it helps me educate the public on vital health topics.

It allows me to tweet about an upcoming radio show,  link to informative websites and blogs, or retweet (RT) a tweet.

I can read about the latest breaking health news, learn about the latest in health 2.0 and
sometimes it simply allows me connect with colleagues and consumers in a fun and friendly fashion.

Twitter has become a source for obtaining the latest news and information.  Short snippets of info flow to and fro faster than you can say “uncle.”

In 140 characters or less you can say what you need to say.  While some tweets aren’t relevant, I mean really, do we need to know that you’ve waiting in a long line at Starbucks for your café latte?  No, but sometimes the mundane tweets helps humanize you a bit.

Tweeters

When a Tweet passes my way that is directed from Dr. Sanjay Gupta, CNN (@sanjayguptacnn), Gwenn O’Keefe, MD, (@drgwenn),  Jennifer Shu, MD (@livingwelldoc), Val Jones, MD (@drval),  Kevin Pho, MD (@kevinmd), CDC, (@cdcemergency), Daniel Sands, MD (@DrDannySands),  or American College of Emergency Physicians (ACEP), (@emergencydocs); just to name a few, I can feel good knowing that the 140 characters or less of info is accurate, reliable and trustworthy.

Educate the Public

Doctors, nurses and other health care professionals can provide accurate,complete, reliable and trustworthy health information.

Tweeting is the perfect opportunity to help educate the public.

I asked three doctors who use twitter to share their thoughts.  Here’s what they said:

Kevin Pho, MD, a primary care physician and a nationally recognized medical commentator who publishes provocative medical commentary at KevinMD.com -

Twitter offers an opportunity for doctors to provide instant feedback, faster than they can even from blogging.  This can range from providing updates on surgery, which Detroit’s Henry Ford Hospital has done, to giving opinions on the latest, breaking studies.  Twitter can provide more transparency to what goes on in the physician’s world, and allow both patients and other doctors to interact with one another in a quick, convenient way.

Gwenn O’Keefe, MD, pediatrician and editor, pediatricsnow.com -

When we graduate medical school and say the modern Hippocratic oath, we promise to not only do no harm but care for people by respecting the society in which they live. Like it or not, technology is part of that society so we have a responsibility to not only respect it but learn it and use it for the greater good of family health in whatever ways necessary and on whatever platforms are available.

Daniel Z. Sands, MD, Director of Medical Informatics at Cisco IBSG and a primary care physician at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center -

By following tweets from health information sources that they trust, people can get general health tips, preventive health information, disease specific information, and even suggestions about to be more engaged in their healthcare. You might also get health coaching from a health professional, a health coach, or even peers (“Did you exercise today?” “I walked 5110 steps today—how many did you walk?”).

The take-away message

Everyone needs to be alert regarding the tweets they receive.  Just because a tweet is about a health topic, that doesn’t mean it’s accurate.

Health consumers need to check the source.  Doctors and nurses can help educate the public on vital health topics with information that is accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.

You can follow me on twitter @barbaraficarra.  Thanks!

This topic continues on today’s Health in 30 Radio Show on WRCR at 12:30 pm EST.  Kevin Pho, MD will join me to talk about “Doctors and Social Media.”  For more info please go to Healthin30.com.

*This blog post was originally published at Health in 30*

Latest Interviews

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

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Latest Book Reviews

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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Unaccountable: A Book About The Underbelly Of Hospital Care

I met Dr. Marty Makary over lunch at Founding Farmers restaurant in DC about three years ago. We had an animated conversation about hospital safety the potential contribution of checklists to reducing medical errors and his upcoming book about the need for more transparency in the healthcare system. Marty was…

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