Twitter makes me a better doctor: 4 reasons why I use Twitter

By Brittany Chan

twitter doc

Even as social media use among physicians gains popularity, I continue to hear doubts echoing from my fellow medical students, residents, and attendings, particularly about the use of Twitter.

Many of them ask how using Twitter has benefited me, and my answer almost always makes them stop and think.

My life has been enriched by the network of intelligent and forward-thinking people I have connected with on Twitter–many of them medical students, doctors, nurses, pharmacists, or other professionals who have made the leap into social media.

I have become a more well-rounded person and a more knowledgeable and confident future physician–and I’ve learned so much.

Why should medical professionals consider joining the Twitterverse?

The following are just a few reasons.

Stay up to date on news and literature. Doctors (and med students!) are busy and don’t always have time to seek out what’s happening in the world. Twitter conveniently brings news and research directly to your feed.

As a medical student and future pediatrician, I follow accounts of official medical associations, such as the AAP (@AmerAcadPeds) and AAMC (@AAMCToday), leading medical journals, including JAMA (@JAMA_current) and The Lancet (@TheLancet), as well as several different kinds of physicians who frequently tweet interesting new articles.

I first learned about last year’s pertussis epidemic in Seattle on Twitter, and have followed tweets about this year’s flu throughout flu season. I frequently stumble upon studies that may help me in practice; last week I learned that cefdinir and iron-supplemented infant formulas may cause non-bloody red stool when taken together. I also follow various media news outlets, such as CNN, The New York Times, and The Wall Street Journal to keep up with current events.

Share ideas and learn from others. Twitter is an open forum of conversation for the world. In my opinion, this is the most valuable use of Twitter.

I follow people who tweet about things that interest me, both medically related and not. As a medical student, I’ve used Twitter as a study tool, asking questions and gleaning knowledge from physicians, residents, and other students. I listen and converse in various tweet chats, such as the mobile health (#mhealth), healthcare social media (#hcsm), and medical education (#meded) chats. I hear patients share their stories and follow blogs.

Some of my favorite blogs are written by parents of children with special needs. NoahsDad.com is a fantastic blog about Noah, a beautiful boy with Down Syndrome. The post of his birth story brought me near tears and provided an intimate look at his parents’ reaction to his diagnosis. I learned what they liked and disliked about their doctors’ delivery of the news, and how much they loved their son.

Blogs like this have given me a new perspective on this special families’ challenges and triumphs. This will undoubtedly help me care for my patients with special needs in the future.

Help patients. This does not mean doctoring patients on the Internet, following my patients on Twitter, or anything of the sort. Patients are online, though, and many are on Twitter. As medical professionals, we can help disseminate accurate health information on the web. Twitter provides a great avenue for physicians to steer people to reputable websites for health information, dispel myths, share helpful articles, and educate people on medical issues.

For example, I tweet and retweet articles from the CDC about vaccines, parenting advice from HealthyChildren.org, and various other health tidbits from academic medical institutions.

It’s fun! Perhaps my favorite reason to tweet is that it’s fun! I love spending time on Twitter. I learn something new every day and read many hilarious or otherwise entertaining tweets along the way. I’ve connected with people I never thought I would, all with a myriad of ideas and opinions. The environment is so dynamic.

Twitter is an exciting mode of communication, and is something I engage in because I enjoy it. If you’re thinking about embarking on your own Twitter journey, but are worried about time commitment, just remember, what you do with it or how much time you spend on it is completely up to you. You don’t even need to be particularly tech-savvy to use it. It requires only the ability to type and click, I promise!

Of course, always be careful what you tweet and use good judgment. While Twitter may not be for everyone, I have found it both personally and professionally rewarding, and encourage all health professionals to give it a spin.

Brittany Chan is a medical student who blogs at iMedicalApps.com, where this article originally appeared.  She can be reached on Twitter @BChanMed.

Make the most out of CheckOrphan

Here we explain all you can do at checkorphan.org in order to make the most out of our services.

News

Stay up to date. A very important feature of CheckOrphan’s platform is the daily news. CheckOrphan is the largest source on the web for rare diseases. Every day we comprise news involving the rare disease community from a great variety of sources and post them on our website.

Expand your network. Send your content to the following email addresses and we will publish them on our website and/or blog:

  • News articles and press releases to news@checkorphan.org
  • Opinion pieces to rare.diseases@checkorphan.org (attn: Blog)
  • Videos to rare.diseases@checkorphan.org

The news articles and press releases will be published on the next edition of our daily Newsletter and reach hundreds of people.

Daily Newsletter

Subscribe and receive our free newsletter every day.

Event Calendar

Submit your events to CheckOrphan to help attract more attendees. Also contact us at rare.diseases@checkrphan.org about our free media partnership to help promote your event more effectively.

Databases

Find more information about a rare disease you are interested in here. CheckOrphan’s rare disease database has nearly 7000 rare diseases. Through each page, we offer information regarding the diseases’ symptoms, available treatments, causes, etc.  Each disease page is also linked to related news, events and research.

Learn more about a rare disease here.

Treatment Database

CheckOrphan also has organizations and treatment databases.

Companies can add their products or update a product page in the treatment section of our website. This section is a window to find treatment options for various diseases.

Link Network – Companies, Patient Organizations, Hospitals, Research Centers and more

Enter your company, association, hospital, clinic, or research institute for more visibility. Here you can submit information about your work and be part of CheckOrphan’s network.

Support & Connect

A great way to support this cause is by Sponsoring a Rare Disease Page or donating any given amount and Become a Champion. Your support makes a real difference.

Where do your donations go?

Image

We are also very active in different social media platforms. Connect with us to expand our network and create awareness about rare diseases among your friends too.

FB buttontwitter buttongoogle+ buttonlinkedin buttonYouTube icon button

Projects & Campaigns

At CheckOrphan, we keep moving and evolving. Be a part of it! We are currently working on Make a RareIMPACT, an ongoing campaign to get as many Rare Disease Pages as possible sponsored.

Rare disease tweet chat: how can rare diseases gain more media attention?

Imageby Rebecca Aris

Source: pharmaphorum.com

Rebecca Aris highlights the recent tweet chat on the topic of rare diseases hosted by pharmaphorum.

On Friday 1st February this year, pharmaphorum hosted a tweet chat on the topic of rare diseases. Many rare disease patients came together through this social media channel to discuss topics in this space. This article details some of the responses and themes that arose.

How has social media affected rare disease patients?

The first question we asked participants was how social media has affected rare disease patients. Here are some of the responses we had to this question:-

  • Information via social media is power for rare disease patients.
  • Social media has provided an amazing opportunity for rare disease patients to find each other and share support.
  • Social media allows patients the opportunity to engage with companies who are developing drugs for rare diseases.
  • In Wilson Disease group, someone newly diagnosed from the UK posted a question and got replies from people in five countries in approximately 36 hours.
  • Social media has given people with cystic fibrosis the tools to put real pressure on public healthcare systems to fund new drug.

So it seems that social media offers information, a platform to connect, support and access to global communication – instantly.

Rare disease patients and clinical trials

We asked our tweet chat participants how they found clinical trials and how they calculated the risk of participating. Here are their answers:-

Patients are clearly quite clued up when it comes to resources in this area. They naturally still express concern over the fact there is often no alternative treatment option, and they want to be as informed as possible.

How can we raise awareness of rare diseases?

Rare diseases need more media attention! This was a message that echoed throughout the chat. Rare diseases need more media press so the public can see that this is a common problem that needs to be addressed. Some popular responses to this question from the tweet chat are below:-

  • One tweet, one post at a time.
  • Sharing the simple fact that collectively rare diseases are not rare. One in ten Americans lives with a rare disease.
  • Need high profile media attention.
  • Increased interaction between all relevant stakeholders from patients to regulators.

So how can we gain media attention in this area? The question remains and given the fact that collectively rare diseases are common it’s clearly time that this area received more attention.

How can we reduce isolation of rare disease patients?

When interviewing rare disease patients a common topic that arises is the feeling of isolation that rare disease patients experience. When questioned on how we could reduce this feeling of isolation our tweet chat participants came up with the following suggestions:-

  • So many wonderful online options like @inspire @patientslikeme @wegohealth and groups like @RareConnect and @bensfriends can also help
  • Check out #pcori.
  • Social media, especially Facebook groups can reduce isolation of rare disease patients.

Online rare disease communities, it seems, really do make a difference in offering support and reducing isolation.

If you could tell pharma one thing – what would it be?

Many patients express an interest in wanting to be able to communicate more openly with pharma. We asked our tweet chat participants if they could tell pharma one thing what would it be. Some of the responses were as follows:-

  • Newly diagnosed rare disease patients want pharma to extend to support groups and offer an explanation of the drug development process.
  • Rare disease patients need safe, effective treatments and they want to work together with pharma.
  • We want a cure, but we’ll take a treatment.

A common theme was that they wanted to work more closely with pharma and wanted more education on how pharma works and, specifically, the drug development process.

As a rare disease patient, what gives you hope for the future?

We closed the tweet chat by asking what it is that gives rare disease patients hope for the future. Here is what they said…

  • Other inspiring rare disease patients / families.
  • More funds being allocated for research into rare disease treatments.
  • Incredible gene therapy advances.
  • More venues to communicate.
  • Industry interest, young generation of academic researchers.

It seems that rare disease patients are hopeful that therapeutic advances, increased communication with pharma and increased funds in this area are contributing toward the treatments and cures of the future.

We’d like to thank those who participated in the chat for sharing their thoughts with us and engaging in this lively debate.

You can view the whole conversation on Appeering here or on Storify here.