Tag Archives: Social media
Reading the media, many are fascinated as to the plethora of new drugs claiming to provide a ‘cure’ against diseases which hitherto were considered incurable. Why, new drugs have even pervaded the social media – pharma companies have started posting widgets on Facebook in a bid to attract readers. Recently, FDA cautioned the drug company Novartis for overstating the benefits of a drug without pointing out the ill-effects (see here).
Social Media as a Marketing Tool – even Big Pharmas Use It
This rampant form of advertising naturally may confuse the public about the efficacy of new medications. In fact, its sometimes difficult to know the validity of claims made in the media.
Here are some tips on how to evaluate the validity of medical news items that you may come across..
- It is a fact that competition is intense among medical journals, research bodies and medical journals to attract media attention. Media themselves compete with each other to come out with the latest. Try to read the same news from several sources. Obviously, if the item is reported in just one obscure source, it should carry less weight.
- Look for key-words like suggestive or may (as opposed to will) as this does not always indicate a cause and effect meaning. Many people make hard-core assumptions based on such words.
- It is the nature of scientific studies that, for a given topic, several would say one thing and a few would say the complete opposite. It is for the trained professional and their peer-groups to make an informed decision to advise consumers. Bear in mind that space is a premium with the mass media and such reports usually omit vital details which will affect accuracy.
- Separate the wheat from the chaff..make sure the website you’re looking at is a reliable one!
- Personally, I feel reports originating from researchers and pharma companies should not appear in the mass media without vetting by an appropriate professional body so as to convey the proper perspective to the audience at large. So if a news report originates from a known professional body, this should carry a lot of weight; as opposed to a solitary item in a nondescript health magazine.
..that’s the message, as far as patients go, that is. The British Medical Association (BMA) has issued a clear warning to doctors: they should not accept Facebook requests from patients.
In today’s world of social networking, many doctors, nurses and medical students use social media – including Facebook, Twitter and blogs – with no problems. But the BMA recommends they adopt conservative privacy settings and declare any conflicts of interest when they post online. This is especially so when they invite patients as friends. The dangers of breaching confidentiality, damaging their professionalism and risking the doctor-patient relationship are too great, BMA says.
I do feel there is substance in this warning. All too often, its too easy discussing personal medical details with an online friend, not realising that, even with privacy settings on, such details may be accessible to others.
Even with Facebook accounts set up between only doctors, many have been disclosing sensitive medical information – and even mocking patients – on Facebook. The NSW Medical Board in Australia has cautioned one doctor for making “flippant and derogatory” comments, and warned others to “think twice” before disclosing patient details on social networking sites.The NSW president of the Australian Medical Association was astonished that doctors posted patient information on Facebook.
Maybe its time that medical students be lectured on the inappropriate use of social media..