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Barbara Ficarra Headshot

Why Doctors & Nurses Need Twitter

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I use Twitter and I like it. As a registered nurse, twitter helps me promote health and wellness and it helps me educate the public on vital health topics.

It allows me to tweet about an upcoming radio show, link to informative websites and blogs, or retweet (RT) a tweet.

I can read about the latest breaking health news, learn about the latest in health 2.0 and
sometimes it simply allows me connect with colleagues and consumers in a fun and friendly fashion.

Twitter has become a source for obtaining the latest news and information. Short snippets of info flow to and fro faster than you can say "uncle."

In 140 characters or less you can say what you need to say. While some tweets aren't relevant, I mean really, do we need to know that you've waiting in a long line at Starbucks for your café latte? No, but sometimes the mundane tweets helps humanize you a bit.

Tweeters

When a Tweet passes my way that is directed from Dr. Sanjay Gupta, CNN (@sanjayguptacnn), Gwenn O'Keefe, MD, (@drgwenn), Jennifer Shu, MD (@livingwelldoc), Val Jones, MD (@drval), Kevin Pho, MD (@kevinmd), CDC, (@cdcemergency), Daniel Sands, MD (@DrDannySands), or American College of Emergency Physicians (ACEP), (@emergencydocs); just to name a few, I can feel good knowing that the 140 characters or less of info is accurate, reliable and trustworthy.

Educate the Public

Doctors, nurses and other health care professionals can provide accurate,complete, reliable and trustworthy health information.

Tweeting is the perfect opportunity to help educate the public.

I asked three doctors who use twitter to share their thoughts. Here's what they said:

Kevin Pho, MD, a primary care physician and a nationally recognized medical commentator who publishes provocative medical commentary at KevinMD.com -

Twitter offers an opportunity for doctors to provide instant feedback, faster than they can even from blogging. This can range from providing updates on surgery, which Detroit's Henry Ford Hospital has done, to giving opinions on the latest, breaking studies. Twitter can provide more transparency to what goes on in the physician's world, and allow both patients and other doctors to interact with one another in a quick, convenient way.

Gwenn O'Keefe, MD, pediatrician and editor, pediatricsnow.com -

When we graduate medical school and say the modern Hippocratic oath, we promise to not only do no harm but care for people by respecting the society in which they live. Like it or not, technology is part of that society so we have a responsibility to not only respect it but learn it and use it for the greater good of family health in whatever ways necessary and on whatever platforms are available.

Daniel Z. Sands, MD, Director of Medical Informatics at Cisco IBSG and a primary care physician at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center -

By following tweets from health information sources that they trust, people can get general health tips, preventive health information, disease specific information, and even suggestions about to be more engaged in their healthcare. You might also get health coaching from a health professional, a health coach, or even peers ("Did you exercise today?" "I walked 5110 steps today--how many did you walk?").

The take-away message

Everyone needs to be alert regarding the tweets they receive. Just because a tweet is about a health topic, that doesn't mean it's accurate.

Health consumers need to check the source. Doctors and nurses can help educate the public on vital health topics with information that is accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.

You can follow me on twitter @barbaraficarra. Thanks!

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