To share or not to share

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Social media for practitioners

The Editor

While in boarding school in the Indian foothills in the eighties, a friend of a friend took very ill. The doctors diagnosed and treated this patient for an Indian strain of Malaria. The boy was fourteen years old and none of the treatments seemed to be working until a visiting doctor from Indonesia suggested it might be an Indonesia strain of the virus. Once this information was shared, it then occurred to the treating doctors that different strains needed differing treatments. As soon as this was established, the correct treatment was administered and the boy made a full recovery. What if this information was not shared?

In the US currently, there is a growing trend for practitioners to share information, securely of course, on social media platforms such as Doximity. This platform has over 500,000 members including an estimated 60% of US doctors and about 20,000 messages are sent daily via their secure message boards. This gives healthcare practitioners the opportunity to share information and be a part of a broader healthcare community.

The network in the US is limited to healthcare practitioners and provides specialised functions such as the residency navigator tool for medical students, which allows students to sort and compare residency programs in the US. De-identified cases are shared with healthcare practitioners who can contribute opinions to the case.

LinkedIn has over 11,000 doctors registered as users in Australia. Australian doctors seem fairly cautious about using LinkedIn given there’s over 120,000 medical and dental doctors registered with AHPRA.

In addition to social media, private messaging applications are gaining greater currency with Australians and it's likely healthcare practitioners are already using these mediums to discuss patient treatment. Whatsapp is already highly popular and apps such as Snapchat, which deletes messages within 10 seconds, and the lesser known Wickr, favoured by some Australian politicians, can have messages deleted within as little as one second or up to six days and boasts military grade encryption.

Social media has opened up valuable new lines of communication between health practitioners and patients, however, it is crucial that GPs and general practice staff recognise and understand the difference between information appropriate for public consumption on social media and information that should be kept confidential. For more information, see the guidelines set out by the Medical Board of Australia. 

What do you think? 

Which social media sites/applications do you use/prefer to use to discuss healthcare with fellow practitioners?

This poll is closed.

Total Votes: 10

  • Facebook (Messenger)
    30%
  • Whatsapp
    60%
  • Wickr
    0%
  • Twitter
    0%
  • LinkedIn
    10%
  • Snapchat
    0%
  • Doximity (currently US only)
    0%

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