Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Twitter and the World of Personalized Medicine

 As part of my role on the Advisory Board of the Mayo Clinic Center for Social Media, I provided a ~ 400-word essay for the following book, newly-released in 2012

You can learn more about the book at the MCCSM website, or purchase at Amazon, including a Kindle Edition version. 

The goal of this project, and the book, was to tap into the combined expertise of MCCSM Advisory Board members to address the following question: "What's your best advice about getting started with social media for me or my organization?"  

In keeping with a "personalized" theme, the mission was to express in everyday language, from our own particular perspectives, whatever advice we felt was appropriate for someone just starting to look at social media as a professional tool.  In my case, Twitter was THE key foot in the door into the world of social media.  Below, in quotes, is my ~ 400-word essay you will find in this book.  

"While the historical progression of social media may have transitioned from blogs to Facebook to Twitter, my recommendation would be to start with Twitter (via TweetDeck, where you can monitor multiple columns of tweet sources).  Your initial goal would be to 1) identify the most credible sources of information on a particular topic area (e.g. health care social media or #hcsm) and 2) follow the conversations there. Starting with the names of just a few people (e.g. @westr) or venues (#hcsm), by following the streams, and then “Following” other people (tweeps) or venues (e.g. #bcsm, #meded, or #rheum), you are quickly on your way to amplifying your information stream.  Of course, one of the biggest attractions of Twitter, to me at least, is that many tweets contain hypertext links to original journal articles, respectable magazine or newspaper articles, blogs and web-only sources of information (e.g. WebMD) that provide details supporting the underlying theme of the tweet.  After using Twitter for about 18 months, I now rely on it as my primary source of daily professional information.  Of course, it doubles as a source of personal information if you wish to include that as part of your information stream.  Since you compose your information stream to suit your particular interests (e.g. “e-Patient”), it ends up becoming a network of interrelated themes that can be as broad or narrow as you wish, and which you can modify according to your daily needs (face it, needs change often).
            As a professor at a medical school, one of my goals is to train budding Docs in the use of social media.  Why?  1) Because that’s where the greatest abundance of medical information is available, and 2) that’s where patients are!  To this end, I implement such training in an elective called Personalized Medicine 101, as well as via a yearly “Twitter Tutorial” talk available to the Upstate Med community at large.  Additionally, through other speaking venues, I attempt to reach others on the impact of social media, including established physicians in our geographical community (see my guest post at on “Female physicians on Twitter”), as well as fellow e-patients in our virtual community (see mention at “Fibromuscular Dysplasia” blog by Kari Ulrich, RN).
Since the majority of my Twitter use involves exchanging information for pedagogical purposes, and since Twitter does not maintain a running archive of tweets (only up to one week or so), I obtain backup support through a web program called BackupMy.Net.  A description of this service and its value to people like myself was published at SMHN in May of 2011 (paywall; copy provided on request).  
The beauty of Twitter involves its range of capabilities.  It’s as easy as you want to make it, but as complex and powerful as you could want it to be, so it’s difficult to get bored with its utility. In fact, beware, Twitter can be addictive!"

Elsewhere in the book you will find essays on blogging, Facebook, YouTube, Pinterest, social networking, legal issues in social media (by Dan Goldman, JD), and a number of other key topics you won't want to miss.   

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