Dec 01

Social Media and the Medical Profession

“A guide to online professionalism for medical practitioners and medical students”

The Australian Medical Association Council of Doctors-in-Training (AMACDT), the New Zealand Medical Association Doctors-in-Training Council (NZMADITC), the New Zealand Medical Students’ Association (NZMSA), and the Australian Medical Students’ Association (AMSA) are committed to upholding the principles of medical professionalism. As such, we have created some practical guidelines to assist doctors and medical students to continue to enjoy the online world, while maintaining professional standards.

Download PDF

Not a bad start. Not sufficient for the purposes of most, but not a bad start. Hope others will build on this.

Ratcatcher’s comment below reminds me that I should also link to a similar attempt by the American Medical Association. I agree with Ratcatcher on the relative merits of these two efforts.

[via Ratcatcher]

Nov 17

Webcast Tomorrow on Twitter: #mlamobile

So we’re in Chicago getting ready for the Webcast tomorrow.

We just figured out that we want people to be able to submit questions or discuss the Webcast on Twitter, so use the hashtag #mlamobile to do so.


-David, Bart, Max, and Emily

(Nikki set up an archive for these tweets at Twapper Keeper.)

Sep 01

Web Geekery in Recent Literature, 9/1/2009

Welcome to another installment of Web Geekery in Recent Literature, where we point out recent articles in the indexed literature of potential interest to the Geeky and Web-obsessed.

Plagiarism of online material may be proven using the Internet Archive Wayback Machine (
PMID: 19716663

Many writers and researchers are reluctant to publish online for fear that their work will be plagiarized and used without attribution elsewhere. For example, junior or freelance researchers may worry that their ideas will be ‘stolen’ and published under the name of professional or senior researchers; and that then it could be hard to convince people that in fact the idea had originated elsewhere. However, if this happens, plagiarism may be objectively proven by a service called the Internet Archive Wayback Machine ( permits clarification of the issue of dates – and allows the reader to draw their own conclusions about authorship, whether charitable or otherwise. In sum, is a little known, freely available and potentially very useful mechanism for defending intellectual property rights.

I’d be willing to be that there’s not a single librarian reader of this blog who wasn’t already quite aware of the Wayback Machine.

Medical professionalism in the age of online social networking.
PMID: 19717700

The rapid emergence and exploding usage of online social networking forums, which are frequented by millions, present clinicians with new ethical and professional challenges. Particularly among a younger generation of physicians and patients, the use of online social networking forums has become widespread. In this article, we discuss ethical challenges facing the patient-doctor relationship as a result of the growing use of online social networking forums. We draw upon one heavily used and highly trafficked forum, Facebook, to illustrate the elements of these online environments and the ethical challenges peculiar to their novel form of exchange. Finally, we present guidelines for clinicians to negotiate responsibly and professionally their possible uses of these social forums.

Huh. This seems somehow familiar…

Informed patients are not a threat.
PMID: 19717986

We’ve all been there; the embarrassing realisation that, despite being a so-called health-care professional and the supposed fount of all knowledge, a patient or relative knows more about a condition than we do. Some of us can take it on the chin and defer, after all, the internet and modern media has made access to information that much easier – anyone with a PC and a spare half an hour can find out exactly how Dengue fever is transmitted (by the Aedes aegypti mosquito, in case you are interested). Not everyone can be that magnanimous though – as a student, I remember being intensely annoyed by a woman who told me that I was being impatient with her husband, a man with Alzheimer’s, and that I needed to adopt a calmer approach when I took him to the toilet. She was right, of course – but I was simply furious.

Say it with me, clinicians: “Informed patients are not a threat.” Make it your mantra.

(This comment dedicated to e-patient Dave.)

Aug 04

Facebook and the Green-Eyed Monster of Jealousy (WGiRL – 8/4/2009)


Cyberpsychol Behav. 2009 Aug;12(4):441-4.
More information than you ever wanted: does Facebook bring out the green-eyed monster of jealousy?
Muise A, Christofides E, Desmarais S.

Department of Psychology, University of Guelph, Ontario, Canada.

The social network site Facebook is a rapidly expanding phenomenon that is changing the nature of social relationships. Anecdotal evidence, including information described in the popular media, suggests that Facebook may be responsible for creating jealousy and suspicion in romantic relationships. The objectives of the present study were to explore the role of Facebook in the experience of jealousy and to determine if increased Facebook exposure predicts jealousy above and beyond personal and relationship factors. Three hundred eight undergraduate students completed an online survey that assessed demographic and personality factors and explored respondents’ Facebook use. A hierarchical multiple regression analysis, controlling for individual, personality, and relationship factors, revealed that increased Facebook use significantly predicts Facebook-related jealousy. We argue that this effect may be the result of a feedback loop whereby using Facebook exposes people to often ambiguous information about their partner that they may not otherwise have access to and that this new information incites further Facebook use. Our study provides evidence of Facebook’s unique contributions to the experience of jealousy in romantic relationships.

PMID: 19366318

Feb 05

HHS/FDA/CDC Social Media Tools for Consumers and Partners

New to me- and a good idea to put all of this on one page.

I didn’t know the CDC was on MySpace or that the FDA had a recall Twitter feed.

I decided I should definitely follow the CDC’s Twitter feed for Health Professionals, which is for “…Health Professionals interested in staying up-to-date with CDC’s interactive media activities…”

They’ve also got a widget to help consumers search for products impacted by the Peanut-Containing Product Recall (embedded below).

FDA Salmonella Typhimurium Outbreak 2009. Flash Player 9 is required.


  • Blogs
  • eMail Subscriptions
  • Health-e-Cards
  • Mobile Information
  • Online Video
  • Phone/Email
  • Podcasts
  • RSS Feeds
  • Social Networks
  • Badges for Social Networks
  • Twitter
  • Virtual Worlds
  • Web Sites
  • Widgets

Go check it out.

Hat tip: Maura Sostack

Jan 29

Clarifying “Social (Network* OR Media)”

A friend recently asked for clarification. What is the difference between social media and social networking?

Yours may differ, but here’s my take:

“Social Networking” is an activity. When you go to a professional conference or gathering, you’re engaged in the activity of social networking. People you know introduce you to new people you don’t know. You exchange business cards and, now acquainted, may contact each other in the future directly without the common intermediary who introduced you.

The activity of social networking can take place anywhere, any place, and any way people establish and maintain these connections.

The activity of social networking has been amazingly facilitated in recent years by the appearance and development of online tools built with the specific purpose of illuminating and illustrating the complex web of relationships between people. I refer to these as online social networksPosts on this blog about online social networks

Lee LeFever does a great job explaining how online social networks facilitate social networking in the CommonCraft video embedded below, “Social Networks in Plain English.”

I think that online social networks are a subset of social media. Often, “social media,” “new media,” “the social Web,” or “the read/write Web” are used as interchangeable synonyms. For the most part, I’d argue that “social media” is anything that makes information move in a more multidirectional manner.This includes, for instance, your local newspaper having community forums and commenting and links for social bookmarking, etc.

There’s no doubt that a kind of networking can and does happen on YouTube or Slideshare or del.icio.usI know, I know…we’re supposed to call it now. I don’t wanna’. I like the old URL better.– but these sites are focused on sharing user-generated content (videos or slides or links with metadata), not on cultivating relationships- so I think they’re not quite the same species as Facebook or LinkedIn.

Put another way: I think of online tool/site/service as an “online social network” if it exists primarily for the purpose of exposing or maintaining the web of interpersonal connections that already exist or the purpose of facilitating new connections. In my venn diagram, online social networks would all be inside the “social media” circle.

Still, this is sort of just thinking aloud. What do you think?

Jan 27

Online Social Networks for Nurses

(Started drafting this post on 10/12/2008)

We’re well past the point where there is an online social network for every community. We’re at the point where there are an absurd number of online social networks for every community.

A selection of online social networks for nurses:

Nurse Connect (previously mentioned here):

NurseConnect is an online nursing community and networking site for nurses and other healthcare professionals interested in advancing their education, careers and personal lives by sharing experiences and knowledge with others. NurseConnect is owned and operated by AMN Healthcare, Inc.

NurseLinkUp (previously mentioned here), is one of many sites run by Online LinkUp.

ANA Nursespace (previously mentioned here) doesn’t seem to be doing much at all.


I asked Arlton Lowry, the director of SocialRN, to make a case for what sets his site apart from the other online social networks for nurses.

Many of the other nursing social networking sites that are operating are built with one key objective in mind – profit. When sites are designed solely for the acquisition of profit, the design of the site and features suffer. We built socialRN for the nursing community and we have no other objective in mind.

The site offers many of the features that the other nursing social networks offer – like, photo sharing, blogs, status updates, file sharing, groups, ext. But what sets socialRN aside is how it integrates other Web 2.0 applications within the users profile. A user can display their flickr photos, what music they have last listed to – through, their position with Google Maps, and even their Twitter update. It allows users to bring all the other Web 2.0 services they are using together into one location.

Also, the design of a site is crucial for a pleasant user experience. There is no clutter within socialRN. We have developed the site so that it is easy for a user to navigate content and socialize with other users.

It’s worth noting that the site is built on Open Source software that will is upgradable and expandable in the future. It will allow us to add additional features and grow the site as more users are added.

The Open Source software socialRN uses is elgg, also used by Nurse’s Cafe

In the category of Online Social Networks with Very Unfortunate Names, we have TNA LinkUp.

Liz: Whatcha’ looking at?
David: A site called “TNA LinkUp”
Liz: …You’re looking at porn?!

See? Unfortunate name. ‘Nuff said.

I was interested to find there’s a social network just for travelers, HealthCare Gypsy.

Nurses Lounge interests me because it is made up of lounges that are specific to metro area or nursing specialty.

CampusRN2RN is for nursing students.

I know I’ve missed some- please let me know?

Jan 15

More About the Book

So the book is getting some attention!

Internet Cool Tools for Physicians is in Google Book Search

Stephen Francoeur made this little video:

The Mid-Atlantic Chapter of the MLA mentioned it on their blog.

The MLA’s Taskforce on Social Networking Software posted about it, calling it “…an accessible, illustrated and contemporary guide to online tools in medicine.”

Laika, whose blog has quickly become one of my favorite MedLib blogs, mentioned it, as did Creaky.

I’m watching with interest to see which libraries are getting it (though Duke’s copy doesn’t show up yet).

Dr. Shock (MD, PhD) gave it a very nice review.

I’m lucky to count as friends people like Meredith Farkas and Michael Stephens, both of whom thought the book worthy of mention on their very popular blogs.

Gosh- Brandi blogged about it way back in August– well before it as released!

I’m pleased to see mention of it in languages other than English.

The President and CEO of Community General Hospital blogged about it.

It has gotten some buzz on Twitter.

We’re anxious to hear any feedback you have about the book- please let us know what you think….and what you think needs to be added or changed for the second edition! 🙂

Dec 08

The Book!

Got my hands on my copies of the book today! How exciting!


You can buy a copy from:
Springer Publishing

or here:

I’m looking forward to eventually seeing it in WorldCat. 🙂

Congratulations to Melissa Rethlefsen (who wrote a heck of a lot more than I did)! You should really go email Melissa now and tell her how much she rocks.

Nov 06

UNYOC (CE slides) and NYLA Tomorrow

My apologies to the awfully nice folks who attended the CE course I taught at UNYOC a couple of weeks ago! I’ve taken far too long to get these slides posted:

Also: I’ll be on a panel at NYLA tomorrow (Friday, 11/6/2008) afternoon at 4:00 PM- please say hello if you’re going to be there! As usual at these sorts of things, I’ll know almost nobody. But hey- I might get to meet Polly Farrington!

Apr 14

The AMA’s Medical Communications Conference

I think I may take the week off from blogging.

Until Tuesday afternoon, I need to get some writing projects done and make preparations to be away from work for the rest of the week.

I’m flying to San Diego Tuesday afternoon for the American Medical Association’s 28th Annual Medical Communications Conference. I’m excited about serving on this panel partially because I’m acquainted a little with Craig Stoltz and Jason Bhan.

Craig is a former health editor for the Washington Post, a former editorial director for Revolution Health, and a sharp guy I’ve enjoyed talking with. Last week, Craig’s Web 2.Oh…really? blog was recognized by TIME magazine as one its “Top 25”- and Craig (rightly) responded with an excellent critique of the feature in a post titled “In Which I Unwisely Bite the Hand That Feeds Me.

I’ve had the pleasure of a longish phone conversation with Dr. Jason Bhan, Chief Medical Officer of Ozmosis. We had intended to talk solely about Ozmosis, but we turned out to have a number of similar perspectives and I’m looking forward to chatting more with Dr. Bhan.

Some sessions I’m looking forward to attending:

So I probably won’t be blogging much this week…but reserve the right to change my mind.

If you’re going to be at the conference, please say hello!

Apr 03

Web Geekery in Recent Literature: 4/3/08

J Am Coll Radiol. 2008 Apr;5(4):593-7.
Quality of CT colonography-related web sites for consumers.
Sheran J, Dachman AH.

Department of Radiology, University of Chicago Hospitals, Chicago, Illinois 60637, USA.

PURPOSE: Patients often request to undergo computed tomographic colonography (CTC) from radiologists or referring physicians on the basis of their personal examination of information on the Web. Therefore, the authors examined the information on CTC and virtual colonoscopy available for consumers on the Web to assess its quality. MATERIALS AND METHODS: The term virtual colonoscopy was entered into 3 popular search engines: Google, Yahoo, and MSN. In each case, evaluation was limited to the first 50 Web sites, or hits, which were recorded and analyzed for content, comprehensiveness, and accuracy. RESULTS: Sixty-seven Web sites were deemed appropriate for further analysis. More than half of the sites reported currency dates more than 2 years old. Only a third of the sites included information about the risk factors for colorectal cancer. About a third of the sites did not explain the indications for the use of CTC, and the remaining sites lacked consistent descriptions of the indications. Few Web sites offered or described the option of performing same-day optical colonoscopy for patients with abnormal results on CTC. CONCLUSION: The data suggest that patients are often armed with very incomplete information from Web sites on CTC. Web sites were often found to be outdated, to contain conflicting information, and were lacking descriptions of patient risk factors for colorectal cancer. Several suggestions are made to improve the dissemination of comprehensive, current, and accurate information.

PMID: 18359448


Hum Reprod. 2008 Mar 27 [Epub ahead of print]
Infertility information on the World Wide Web: a cross-sectional survey of quality of infertility information on the internet in the UK.
Marriott JV, Stec P, El-Toukhy T, Khalaf Y, Braude P, Coomarasamy A.

Assisted Conception Unit, Guy’s and St. Thomas’ Hospital NHS Foundation Trust, Thomas Guy House, Guys Hospital, 4th Floor, London SE1 9RT, UK.

BACKGROUND The internet is a frequently used source of information for infertile couples. Previous studies suggested that the quality of health information on the internet is poor. The aim of this study was to assess the quality of websites providing information on infertility and its management in the UK. Differences between website types and affiliations were assessed. METHODS A Google search for the keyword ‘infertility’ was performed and 107 relevant websites were identified and categorized by type. Websites were assessed for credibility, accuracy and ease of navigation using predefined criteria. RESULTS The total scores for all types of websites were low, particularly in the accuracy category. Websites affiliated to the UK National Health Service (NHS) scored higher than those affiliated to private fertility clinics and other clinics providing non-conventional fertility treatment. Specifically, NHS websites were more likely to report success rates (92.9% versus 60% and 0%, P PMID: 18372253


Am J Pharm Educ. 2008 Feb 15;72(1):10.
Online social networking issues within academia and pharmacy education. [Free full text]
Cain J.

University of Kentucky College of Pharmacy, USA.

Online social networking sites such as Facebook and MySpace are extremely popular as indicated by the numbers of members and visits to the sites. They allow students to connect with users with similar interests, build and maintain relationships with friends, and feel more connected with their campus. The foremost criticisms of online social networking are that students may open themselves to public scrutiny of their online personas and risk physical safety by revealing excessive personal information. This review outlines issues of online social networking in higher education by drawing upon articles in both the lay press and academic publications. New points for pharmacy educators to consider include the possible emergence of an “e-professionalism” concept; legal and ethical implications of using online postings in admission, discipline, and student safety decisions; how online personas may blend into professional life; and the responsibility for educating students about the risks of online social networking.

PMID: 18322572


Catheter Cardiovasc Interv. 2008 Feb 15;71(3):441-4.
SCAI launches An interventional cardiology resource for patients and physicians.
Weiner BH, Marshall JJ.

St Vincent Hospital at Worcester Medical Center, Worcester, MA 01608, USA.

PMID: 18288740

[Okay, not a lot in the abstract, but check out the site.]

Mar 22

New York Times on

But PatientsLikeMe seeks to go a mile deeper than health-information sites like WebMD or online support groups like Daily Strength. The members of PatientsLikeMe don’t just share their experiences anecdotally; they quantify them, breaking down their symptoms and treatments into hard data. They note what hurts, where and for how long. They list their drugs and dosages and score how well they alleviate their symptoms. All this gets compiled over time, aggregated and crunched into tidy bar graphs and progress curves by the software behind the site. And it’s all open for comparison and analysis. By telling so much, the members of PatientsLikeMe are creating a rich database of disease treatment and patient experience.

PatientsLikeMe’s privacy policy clearly states that this sharing carries risks. It acknowledges that since anybody can register at the Web site, anybody can look at member profiles. It makes clear that there’s no guarantee that registered members are, in truth, who they say they are. And it nods to the fact that, yes, this is a business, not a public service — some personally identifiable information may be sold to “approved vendors.” But this is boilerplate. The most striking notice is the company’s Openness Philosophy, a manifesto posted prominently on the site.

“Currently, most health-care data is inaccessible due to privacy regulations or proprietary tactics,” it declares. “As a result, research is slowed, and the development of breakthrough treatments takes decades. . . . When you and thousands like you share your data, you open up the health-care system. . . . We believe that the Internet can democratize patient data and accelerate research like never before.”

Read the rest

Mar 14

Emerging Technologies in Nursing and Nursing Education (Presentation)

Patricia Anderson (whose slides I always find worth a look) put up a new presentation yesterday:

Above: Embedded slides. If you’re reading this in an aggregator, you may need to visit the site to view the slides
Mar 01

More PubMed for Facebook

Gerry McKiernan points out two Facebook applications for searching PubMed, PubFace and PubMed Search.

PubFace Results:

PubMed Search Results:

It’s sort of neat to be able to quickly share a PubMed citation with another Facebook user (see the link in the PubFace results above for “Send to a friend” or PubMed Search’s “Share this” button) and it is handy to be able to add citations to a collection (see PubFace’s “Add to MyLibrary” links or PubMed Search’s “add this to your favorites”)… but I’m having trouble seeing how it is preferable to using PubMed itself and making use of MyNCBI or “Send to email”…or using a powerful bookmarking tool like, Connotea or CiteULike.

I’m only a casual Facebook user, so it is entirely possible I’m missing something. If so, please clue me in? Thanks!

Feb 22

A Social Network (and other tools) for Radiologists

Welcome. radRounds is a new professional networking tool for radiologists, created by radiologists. Think LinkedIN, Facebook, or MySpace but just for us radiologists. Connections matter – enrich your clinical or academic career by joining our rapidly growing radiologist-focused community.

radRounds is built on the Ning platform, so anyone who has used a Ning network social network will be familiar with its features.

While I’m thinking of it, here’s a run-down of the various radiology sites that have been mentioned previously on this blog:

Feb 21

Guesses About The Future of Online Social Networks for Clinicians

I read something interesting the other day on a blog about social media.

I believe Facebook will transform networking on the web from a largely social, recreational activity to one that has serious implications for business.

I enjoyed reading this belief about the future and decided I’d try one of my own.

I don’t believe Facebook will transform networking on the web from a largely social, recreational activity to one that has serious implications for business- but I think its bastard descendants might. The social-network-as-an-application-platform model is going to spread and be adopted elsewhere. Many individual social networks seem to be hot for a while and are then abandoned for the next, cooler one (think Friendster -> MySpace -> Facebook).

I think professional associations and other large organizations will have their own Facebook-like networks/platforms that are available in their full-featured versions only to members. It’ll be a serious and significant membership benefit…sort of like a members directory, except lots more useful.

The trick is that some users will be members of multiple (often related) organizations. A cardiologist, for example, might be a member of the ACC and of the AMA), each with its own Facebook-like networks/platforms- and re-creating their profiles and relationships in each one would be so much of a pain in the butt as to make building one’s profile in either platform less appealing.

The two social networks/platforms might be interoperable if they are built by the same third-party vendor, but broad interoperability would only be possible if there was a virtual monopoly of a third-party vendor providing the social networks/platforms to organizations- and monopolies aren’t good for innovation or pricing.

How much better would it be if all such networks could share data in a common format and by a common standard of information exchange. Imagine that you could sign up for a new social network and establish your profile and relationships there by just telling it to copy your data from another social network…or if you could see your friend on network ‘B’ from your profile on network ‘A’- even though you don’t both have accounts on the same social network.

THAT’S why tools like OpenSocial are important- even if they do get off to an iffy start.