Print Email

Social Media in Medicine

 , April 12, 2014

Social Media is a powerful channel for communication and is threatening traditional print and broadcast media in popularity.  Increasingly people are turning to social networks like Twitter and Facebook to get their news and to stay up to date.  Social Media poses several risks for physicians:

  • Inadvertent compromise of protected health information

  • Challenge to traditional professional boundaries

  • Rapid widespread dissemination of unprofessional conduct

These risks can cause the healthcare professionals to shun this space leaving it open to third-parties.

Recently I had the opportunity to host a panel discussion on the use of “Social Media in Medicine”.  The panel included 2 SGIM members - Vineet Arora and Katherine Chretien - who have been able to navigate this space and have also done some research on this topic.  The two other panel members were Anne Marie Cunningham, a General Practitioner at Cardiff University and Michelle Kraft a medical librarian at the Cleveland Clinic.


The panel covered a wide ranging set of topics including:

  • Advantages of using Social Media

  • Tips of finding time to use Social Media

  • Risks of Social Media and how to avoid these

  • Encouraging our trainees to safely use this space and

  • Tips on how to start using Social Media

The panel discussion was conducted online via Google Hangouts on Air and broadcast live on YouTube.  You can view the archived version of the broadcast here:


This technology is free to use and can enable high quality video broadcasts without the inconvenience and cost of travel.  As health care faces a prospect of shrinking budgets we need to explore the use of such tools.  Experts can discuss controversial, important and trending topics and generate authentic reliable content that can be accessed by everyone.  The content can be disseminated by providers who use social media and thus meet the information needs of their patients.  If you want to read more about how to use these tools, I have blogged about them here.