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Social Media in the World of Medicine: Where to Draw the Fine Line

Submitted by on November 2, 2014 – 11:05 AM

healthcare_socialmedia Face book, Twitter, LinkedIn, Whatsapp ,Viber we all come across to these words many times a day. We, especially the youth of 21st century cannot imagine their lives without updating a status or tweeting about an event.Social media has transformed the way of communication significantly.The capacity to share and interact with one another changes the way of our living both personally and professionally.


Whether it’s a business deal, interpersonal relationship, marketing a product or igniting a revolution; youngsters find social media a way to express themselves and put forward their ideas.The way social media has affected all other areas of life, it has also impacted the field of medicine. With every single day, the medical community is utilizing social media to communicate and educate the masses.For medical student, it works as a good reference source (but one should be certain about the authenticity of that source). Videos, research article, new discoveries and latest invention, you can get it all just with a click of a button.


Sharing of questions and different sources that can help you with your grades are all available under the roof of social media.For health care professionals it is a medium of learning and sharing experiences with their peers. It can also provide channel from which one can know about workshops and seminars occurring all around the world.


Sharing my own experience; on a ward rotation during rounds the whole faculty of that ward faced a very unusual case of blood cancer. They thought of consulting a hematologist for that purpose and did so in just a couple of minutes using Skype. This not just only saved their time but also spared them of extra effort.As its wide spread use, social media can also be use as a way of educating the masses. Whenever a new disease or endemic hits a part of the world, it poses threat to the rest of the world.


The most current example of this is Ebola virus that cost number of lives in Africa. This is a virus that causes tendency to bleed and is deadly within a couple of week. There is no vaccine available and only way of preventing this infection is by avoiding to travel to that area and strict precautions while treating the patient. It holds in part the responsibility of doctor to educate the masses and social media is an excellent medium for this purpose.


Since this social media has implanted itself so deeply in our lives then why not benefit from its effectiveness in emergency management. Disasters and natural calamities have destroyed the earth a number of times along with claiming valuable lives. Networking sites like Facebook can be use to share emergency plan and establish emergency network among the countries who have faced such situation and those who are facing it.


As well said “Doctor is a noble profession.” But this nobility is lost in a matter of minutes if you do not attend your patient appropriately. Diagnosing a patient on just knowing his or her symptoms is not justified. Without examination, a doctor should not diagnose a disease or else he or she might be charged of malpractice. It is a very sensitive line on how to use social media with your patients.


No matter how close you are to your patient, he or she is your patient and in the end all that matters is how you treat them.
Easy accessibility of social media mingles the personal and professional life of a doctor. This can be very hazardous to ones career. It can affect the repute and ultimately has impact on doctor’s career. A doctor must draw a line between personal and professional communication on social media.


As a modern day necessity, social media has become a part of everyone’s life including the members of medical community. It helps in communication, education, learning new experiences and even in emergency management. But one should not forget that its inappropriate use has its consequences. Nevertheless when used wisely, it is one of the most amazing innovation of modern times.


About the Author:
Rutaba Alam is a final year medical student at Dow Medical College. She can be reached at [email protected]

About this article: This article is competing for the JPMS International Medical Writing Contest 2014.

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