iMedicine: The Influence of Social Media on Medicine

Kent Bottles

Posted 4/25/12 on Kent Bottles’ Private Views

iMedicine:  The Influence of Social Media on Medicine was the topic of the day-long 27th Annual Physician Student Awareness Day (SPAD) held on April 24, 2012 on the campus of New York Medical College in Valhalla, New York.  The entire conference was run by medical students from the Class of 2015.

Karl Adler, MD, CEO, welcomed the 200 attendees by recalling his own medical school education in the 1960s. Dr. Adler relied on textbooks, mimeographed handouts, and lecture notes to master both the art and science of medicine.  In his day, students were taught to rely on the history, the physical examination, laboratory tests, radiology studies, and the EKG; his teachers stressed that the history and physical obtained in a face-to-face encounter between the physician and the patient were the keys to successfully caring for the patient.

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5 Myths About Smoking and Mental Illness

Pat Salber

First posted 7/27/11 on The Doctor Weighs In

Judith Prochaska has written a very interesting commentary about smoking and mental illness that appeared in the July 21, 2011 issue of the New England Journal of Medicine (NEJM).   The point of the article is that we in the health professions have failed to aggressively address smoking in people with mental illness.  She posits that it is because of five prevailing myths about smoking and mental illness.  She provides evidence to dispel those myths in every instance.

Myth #1:   Tobacco is a useful self-medication for people with mental illness

It shouldn’t be a surprise to learn that our friends in Big Tobacco have played a role in promulgating this myth by funding research and presentations supporting this hypothesis.  In fact, the industry has a long and rich historyof manipulating research to reach its goal of selling more and more cigarettes to more and more people.  One of industry’s main strategies was to create confusion to counter the increasing body of evidence about tobacco’s adverse health impact.  Just read this quote from a 1969 Brown and Williamson document:

“Doubt is our product since it is the best means of competing with the ‘body of fact’ that exists in the mind of the general public….”

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More Clinicians Understand That Patients Want To Communicate Online

Jane Sarasohn-Kahn

First posted 6/26/11 on Health Populi

As people take on more DIY approaches in their daily lives for travel planning, photo management, and investing, they’re looking for health care touchpoints to do the same — especially, their physicians. In 2011, more doctors are responding to this patient-driven demand, based on data published in the InformationWeek digital health care issue July 25, 2011, titled The Pain of Change.

Most patients would be willing to change physician practices if their doctors don’t offer online access to tools, based on a recent survey from Intuit which Health Populi covered in March 2011 here.

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Health is Bliss

Jane Sarasohn-Kahn

First posted 7/14/11 on Health Populi

In the ever-morphing space between health, wellness and beauty is the latest online portal called Bliss.com. The project was launched by Glam Media, which brings together women-focused brands and social media. Glam boasts a reach of 200 million across all of its online properties, and estimates that Bliss.com will realize an 11 million member community. Its target is “yogis, fitness enthusiasts and health conscious moms,” according to Glam’s website. Bliss Connect is the social networking component on the website for user-generated content.

[In a small-world, two-degrees of separation from my health care world, Glam was in fact inspired by Esther Dyson in 2002.]

With hyperlinks to “eat well,” “get fit,” “mind+spirit,” “head to toe,” and “sanctuary,” this website grabs onto the zeitgeist of Whole Health. Today’s features include “Exercise in Bed,” “Summer Snacks That Won’t Blow Your Calorie Budget,” and “Healthy Now, Healthy Later,” a four-step process to help you sustain good health habits — sponsored by One-A-Day vitamins.

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Retail Health Providers are Expanding the Corporate Wellness Market

Jane Sarasohn-Kahn

First posted 7/12/11 on Health Populi

U.S. employers are taking workers’ health and vitality more seriously in 2011 and for the future, based on their responses to benefit consultants’ surveys on where companies plan to place health spending in their benefit investment portfolios. Wellness is the new health benefit.

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Advice on Social Media For Physicians

Kenneth Lin

Originally posted 7/6/11 on the American Family Physician Community Blog

The Mayo Clinic’s Center for Social Media recently posted a short video of prominent physician bloggers Bryan Vartabedian (a gastroenterologist), Wendy Sue Swanson (a pediatrician), and Katherine Chretien (an internist) giving advice to young physicians on the potential and perils of social media use.

The advice and additional resources these experts provide should be helpful to family physicians at all stages of training who are new to using social media tools. Dr. Chretien also writes an insightful commentary in the July 1st issue of AFP in response to the question, “Should I be ‘friends’ with my patients on social networking web sites?” (Short answer: no, but there are less ethically questionable ways to interact with one’s patients online.) As Dr. Chretien points out, the American Medical Association has recently published guidance on professionalism in the use of social media.

We encourage family physicians to explore the health care social media landscape through posts and comments on the AFP Community Blog and the journal’s Facebook and Twitter accounts, as well as by visiting our links to blogs written by and for family physicians.

Not Everything in Health & Wellness Can Be Reduced to a Single Number

Kent Bottles

First posted 6/26/11 on Kent Bottles’ Private Views

“To measure is to know.” Lord Kelvin

“If you can not measure it, you can not improve it.” Lord Kelvin

Vs.

“Asking science to explain life and vital matters is equivalent to asking a grammarian to explain poetry.” Nassim Nicholas Taleb

“Technology is at its best when it is invisible.” Nassim Nicholas Taleb

How can technology help us live healthier lives? Why did Google Health fail? Why are Klout and Twitter Grader publicly issuing a number to me by name about how influential I am? What do Lord Kelvin and Nassim Nicholas Taleb have to teach us?

I was taught in medical school and pathology residency that health was defined as absence of disease; this definition pleased me because not much important could happen to the patient until I peered into my microscope and rendered a diagnosis. I looked up to Virchow and Rokitansky who were the most important and influential physicians in the most advanced medical centers in the 19th century.

In the mid-20th century the World Health Organization (WHO) famously stated: “Health is a state of complete physical, mental, and social well-being, and not merely the absence of disease or injury.”

“The dialogue between Asclepios, the god of medicine, and Hygieia, the goddess of health – the external intervention and the well-lived life – goes back to the beginning. Only in the twentieth century did the triumph of ‘scientific’ modes of inquiry in medicine (as in most walks of life) result in the eclipse of Hygieia. Knowledge has increasingly become defined in terms of that (and only that) which emerges from the application of reductionist methods of investigation.”

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