Poll: Is Twitter necessary for physicians and other medical professionals?

Twitter has captured the mainstream imagination, with celebrities and news organizations embracing the medium.

Will Twitter soon be an essential tool for medical practices?

Twitter is a social media service where users can communicate with one another in 140 characters or less. More doctors are using Twitter to connect both with patients and other medical professionals. Some hospitals have “live-Tweeted” surgery, to great fanfare, allowing the public a peek into the operating room and giving them an opportunity to ask the surgeons questions mid-procedure.

Other doctors use Twitter to communicate with patients. Generally not to give medical advice, but to guide the public to reputable sources of information, or share breaking medical news. The CDC, for instance, uses Twitter to provide constant updates on H1N1 influenza.

Finally, Twitter offers an invaluable opportunity for doctors to ask questions of other medical providers. Given the real-time nature of Twitter, opinions and answers to clinical issues can be obtained immediately.

Some doctors simply do not have enough time to Twitter, or utilize other social media applications like Facebook. And time spent with patients in the social media sphere is certainly not compensated by health insurance.

But Twitter is a valuable way to reach thousands of people at once. And for busy doctors, who often need to both inform patients and connect with other medical colleagues, that can be an invaluable.

I encourage you to listen and vote in this week’s poll, located both below, and in the upper right column of the blog.

Please suggest future ReachMD Poll topics by emailing Poll@ReachMD.com.

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