Better Health: Smart Health Commentary Better Health (TM): smart health commentary

Latest Posts

The Importance Of Social Media In The Medical Field

Recently,  I had the pleasure of being surrounded by brilliant health care thought leaders.  First, I delivered a social media presentation at the Eyeforpharma conference.  Secondly, I sat in the audience at the Social Communications and Health Care 2011 conference to listen to others present on social media, and participate in a round-table discussion on social media.

It’s clear from the personal discussion that followed with folks from the pharma industry, medical device companies, and hospitals, that they understand the need for social media (or social networking), but they are cautious to dive in.

A few concerns I’ve heard:  “social media can be paralyzing,” “senior leadership in the pharma industry is looking for the FDA to make decisions because it’s such a highly regulated industry,” and “it’s still so new, what’s the ROI?”  Concerns are real; however there will always be concerns and questions.  Sometimes, the best approach is to just dive right in.

The brilliant reason to dive deep into the social media health space is Read more »

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

Misleading Medical Tweets Could Cause Harm

This is not a lesson about the limitations of 140-character messages on Twitter.

Rather, it is a warning about careless Tweets that mischaracterize the real meat of the message in longer stories linked to in the Twitter message. As I wrote on Twitter in response to these two episodes, “Better not to Tweet on complex health care topics than to mischaracterize your own story with a misleading 140 characters.”

First, my friend Andrew Holtz caught the fact earlier this week that Men’s Health Magazine tweeted:

If you’re a smoker, you NEED to get a CT scan. Here’s why: http://ow.ly/5x34y

That “here’s why” link took you to a Men’s Health Magazine story, that despite being headlined “The Medical Test Every Smoker Needs,” went on to explain:

Don’t run out and ask for a CT scan, though. More than 96 percent of the positive screens in the study were false positives, which could subject you to unnecessary surgery, cancer treatments, and the complications that come with them. They’re also expensive: A chest CT scan can cost up to several thousands of dollars.

So look at how silly Men’s Health looked on this confusing back-and-forth message:

1. You NEED to get a CT scan.
2. It’s a test “every smoker needs”
3. But don’t run out and ask for one.

Then this morning I caught AARP doing the same thing. They tweeted:

Are you a smoker? CT scan those lungs – they’re proven to cut risk of lung cancer death for 55-plus: http://aarp.us/rdleHu

That links takes you to a story that includes caveats such as the following: Read more »

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

Physicians And The Evolution Of Twitter

There’s a temptation to think of Twitter as it once was.  As recently as 3 years ago there were very few physicians using Twitter.  Early physician adopters enjoyed a tighter experience than today.  Everyone followed everyone and actually finding another doctor was cause for celebration.  It was a cocktail party – less a tool as much as a place to goof off.  It was easier in many respects.

But Twitter seems to be evolving from a curious toy to a more focused space of sharing among the like-minded.  I see new docs play out this broader evolution of Twitter:  near obsessive early preoccupation gives way to the question of how it can actually work for them.  Experimentation with relationships gives way to connections that are more likely to give us what we really need.

We’ve hit a point where many physicians on Twitter are looking beyond the cocktail party.  There are simply too many of us.  As a consequence of nothing other than our numbers, we’re increasingly divergent.  Values, interests, and motivations vary – we gravitate to the like-minded.  In some respects Twitter’s evolving practicality is a good thing.  But it comes with a cost.  I don’t know how and if it can be countered.

As much as Twitter is different now compared to 3 years ago, don’t get used to it.  Things never stay the same.

*This blog post was originally published at 33 Charts*

Are There Too Many Health Chats On Twitter?

Is it me or has the number of medically related twitter chats just exploded in the past 4-6 weeks or so? In the past few weeks, there has been a lot of discussion about the proper and improper use of the twitter hash tag. I mean if more than 50% of the tweet are hash tags, then I gotta problem with it.

Twitter by it’s very nature is whiny. I mean, one of twitter’s first functions back in the day (in my opinion) and one of the first uses of twitter for the newer user is a place to vent. And, people complain, whine, vent about a great variety of stuff. But, not about the number of tweet chats that have been popping up recently?

Maybe I’m crazy, but will twitter ever get to the point when there are too many chats? Probably not. However, something that I have seen in the past few weeks is the selection of what I call the “golden” time of 9pm Eastern Time.

There is probably some solid data out there somewhere, but Read more »

*This blog post was originally published at Family Medicine Rocks Blog - Mike Sevilla, MD*

Social Media Users ARE The Media: Why You Can’t Keep Secrets At Medical Meetings

This NCI Cancer Bulletin article on the use of social media at this week’s American Society of Clinical Oncology is worth reading.  It showcases how a major medical organization sees social media unfolding at a national meeting.  I’ll be following #ASCO11 closely where some sources predict the Tweet count could reach 10-15,000.

What caught my eye was discussion surrounding the speaker-imposed restriction of Twitter at scientific presentations.  Apparently some meetings such as the Biology of Genomes Conference at Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory, presenters have to grant permission to allow the use of Twitter (this apparently will not be the case at ASCO).

This is a quote from the meeting media policy at Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory

Often, during the course of a meeting, a scientist will present a discovery, method, or current project that is not yet complete or published. Therefore, to prevent the premature release of confidential information, we require all media attendees to obtain permission in advance from the relevant scientist prior to reporting any spoken or printed information gleaned from the meetings. Media attendees are encouraged to approach scientists out-of-session (e.g. during coffee breaks, poster sessions, wine and cheese parties, etc.) for informal discussions, formal interviews, and/or permission to report sensitive information at the appropriate time. Read more »

*This blog post was originally published at 33 Charts*

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…

Read more »

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…

Read more »

See all interviews »

Latest Cartoon

See all cartoons »

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…

Read more »

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…

Read more »

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…

Read more »

See all book reviews »