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Social Media Bill Of Rights?

Should we have a Bill of Rights for social media sites? It’s something we need to consider as such software becomes an integral part of our daily communications.

Some might say such a document isn’t needed, that we aught to take a buyer-beware approach. But I would argue that the core issue of the privacy threats of new media isn’t really privacy, but rather dignity. Having to go through fifty steps to set your privacy settings is undignified, even if your privacy is ensured.

So if we value human dignity, we aught to consider standards of dignity. A Bill of Rights, even if unenforceable, may at least remind us of the disturbing force of social technologies. What’s your take?

*This blog post was originally published at Phil Baumann*

Health Journalism Gems You Shouldn’t Miss

A couple of health journalism gems you shouldn’t miss just because they were published over the holiday weekend:

Natasha Singer of the New York Times had an important piece, “When Patients Meet Online, Are There Side Effects?,” about privacy concerns when social networking sites like CureTogether.com and PatientsLikeMe.com offer online communities for patients and collect members’ health data for research purposes.

John Fauber of the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel published another in his “Side Effects” series on conflicts of interest in healthcare. This one was about doctors vouching for the drug Multaq for treating atrial fibrillation without ever having seen all of the data.

The Minneapolis Star Tribune began a “Too Much Medicine” series. Health editor Dave Hage informs that they’ve been working on this project for nearly a year with plans for a few more installments in coming months, each covering different ailments and procedures that are over-used or under-proven. (Unfortunately, I think the series is only available in the print editions.)

*This blog post was originally published at Gary Schwitzer's HealthNewsReview Blog*

The Value Of Social Media For Patients, Doctors And Nurses

A patient apologized to me for asking so many questions. “There’s no need to apologize,” I said to the patient, “It’s wonderful that you have so many questions concerning your healthcare.” I mentioned to her that she is an “empowered and engaged patient,” and that’s a good thing.

It’s no secret that health consumers are turning to the Internet for health information.

In a recent article from MediaPost News, Gavin O’Malley writes that, according to new a study by Epsilon Strategic & Analytic Consulting Group, “40% of online consumers use social media for health information — reading or posting content — while the frequency of engagement varies widely. According to the study, individuals who use healthcare social media fall into two broad groups: the 80% who are highly engaged patients, and take active roles in health management; and the 20% who lack confidence to play an active role in their own health.” Read more »

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

Does Social Media Break Down Valid Health Information?

This is the era of evidence-based social media as more and more papers focusing on medicine and social media are coming out. An interesting paper was published a few days ago in the American Journal of Infection Control. Scanfeld et al. tried to reveal the rate of misunderstanding or misuse of antibiotics in Twitter messages in their study: Dissemination of health information through social networks: Twitter and antibiotics.

BACKGROUND: This study reviewed Twitter status updates mentioning “antibiotic(s)” to determine overarching categories and explore evidence of misunderstanding or misuse of antibiotics.

METHODS: One thousand Twitter status updates mentioning antibiotic(s) were randomly selected for content analysis and categorization. To explore cases of potential misunderstanding or misuse, these status updates were mined for co-occurrence of the following terms: “cold + antibiotic(s),” “extra + antibiotic(s),” “flu + antibiotic(s),” “leftover + antibiotic(s),” and “share + antibiotic(s)” and reviewed to confirm evidence of misuse or misunderstanding.

RESULTS: Of the 1000 status updates, 971 were categorized into 11 groups. Cases of misunderstanding or abuse were identified for the following combinations: “flu + antibiotic(s)” (n = 345), “cold + antibiotic(s)” (n = 302), “leftover + antibiotic(s)” (n = 23), “share + antibiotic(s)” (n = 10), and “extra + antibiotic(s)” (n = 7).

CONCLUSION: Social media sites offer means of health information sharing. Further study is warranted to explore how such networks may provide a venue to identify misuse or misunderstanding of antibiotics, promote positive behavior change, disseminate valid information, and explore how such tools can be used to gather real-time health data.

*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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