The arrival of internet changed business in ways previously unimaginable, and the impact it has had on medical sciences is something that is still being explored. The advent of social media, more than a decade ago heralded a tectonic shift in how the process of pathology is carried out. There is however, always a risk associated with using social media or internet when it comes to all things medical. But the fact is that social media is here to stay and is something that cannot be ignored any longer when it comes to effecting systems that will harmonize the business of pathology.
Social media and Web 2.0 have made sure that the internet has become a more interactive space, and this has made it even more of a challenge for medical practitioners. User generated reviews make a huge difference and can make or break a brand online. By the end of 2010 more than 600 hospitals were actively using social media. This includes over 280 YouTube channels, 382 Facebook pages, 470 Twitter accounts and 82 blogs, figures which have increased over the last few years.
Keith Kaplan, MD of the Mayo Clinic from Rochester, Minnesota coined the term Pathology 2.0, an obvious take from Web 2.0, to better present the sharing and interacting with pathology images and content. The increased use of blogs, wikis, videos and other social networking technologies has made obtaining reports of pathological investigations that much simpler.
Social media for learning and knowledge exchange
The tools of Pathology 2.0 have not been too easily accepted among doctors, however, attempts of using the same to better learning opportunities for medical students have been driven with some success. Social media exchanges have begun to play a great role in lectures and important discussions, and provide a democratic platform for the same. Pathologists usually have the largest number of books of anyone in the medical fraternity. A pathology wiki or online encyclopedia can be a boon for students and pathologists and help them by collating a large body of information in one location.
One of the oldest pathology forum is Patho-L and has a large number of subscribers. This forum has a oodles of essential medical information along with generic and non-pathology commentary. However, this is hardly a Web 2.0 experience as it relies essentially on email exchange and there is no risk of any information going viral. Lab Soft News by Bruce Friedman, Digital Pathology Blog by Keith Kaplan are just a couple of highly successful pathology blogs out there. These forums provide the cutting edge changes in the world of pathology and send notifications for new information through Twitter.
A repository of knowledge
Social media and the internet works as an easily accessible repository for crowd-sourced knowledge, however, there are very few pathology based wikis. They have fast updates but require more monitoring to ensure that the information is accurate and rooted in sound evidence. It can be a good idea for pathology labs to use Google Wave to track and generated ideas to permit more collaborative projects and create more inclusive pages.
Using the cascade effect of Twitter can make sure that your information reaches out to a large number of concerned parties. It may seem counter-intuitive to imagine that 140 characters could be of any use to a profession that produces pages worth of reports. However, it is the simple act of reaching out to a large number of peers with a certain piece of information or query.
Social media has generated a whole new breed of discerning consumers and the medical practice is not exempt from it. There is, more often than not, a careful review of the practitioners and their facilities along with the reviews and that they have gotten. Social media is a veritable petri-dish of risk and opportunities. It is essential to adopt parts of it but there are aspects, like privacy and permission, that need to be carefully assessed and worked around.
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