Twitter becoming essential tool for docs

By Molly Merrill
11:15 AM
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Twitter will soon be an essential tool for medical practices according to a poll conducted by Case Western University, an independent research university in Cleveland.

Fifty-nine percent of those who participated in the poll voted "yes" that Twitter would become an integral part of the way doctors communicate with patients and other medical professionals.

Although more doctors may be using the service, they are not necessarily using it to give patients advice.

"I was a clinical assistant professor of medicine at CWRU until 2008, and I think it is great that the university community shows an active interest in social media services such as Twitter... That said, I am yet to ask medical questions on Twitter and generally do not answer clinical queries from patients there," said Ves Dimov, MD, founder of ClinicalCases.org, an online case-based curriculum of clinical medicine, in a blog.

Doctors don't generally use Twitter to give medical advice but to guide the public to reputable sources of information or share breaking medical news, said Kevin Pho, MD, in a post on his medical blog, KevinMD.com

Pho conducted a similar poll in Aug. 2009, asking medical professionals how they used Twitter. He found that about 45 percent did not use the service at all. Thirty-six percent said they used it to share and keep up with news and information and only 1.5 percent said they used it to connect with patients.