29 September 2013

I had the very unique opportunity to participate in a panel discussion at Stanford’s MedicineX conference, which is organized by Dr. Larry Chu. “MedicineX is a catalyst for new ideas about the future of medicine and health care. The initiative explores how emerging technologies will advance the practice of medicine, improve health, and empower patients to be active participants in their own care. The “X” is meant to encourage thinking beyond numbers and trends—it represents the infinite possibilities for current and future information technologies to improve health.”

The panel was moderated by Liza Bernstein and I was joined by Dr. Ann Becker-Schutte. We discussed  how as clinicians our practice and interaction with both our patients and patient communities has been impacted by our involvement in social media, specifically the Breast Cancer / Social Media (#BCSM) tweet chats. Ann and I are both very involved in the Breast Cancer Social Media Community, which was started in 2011 by Jody Schoger and Alicia Staley. The #BCSM community has served as a model for other on-line health communities, and a key feature which sets it apart is that it is more than a “support group.” The #BCSM tweetchat has always included key stakeholders in anyone’s breast cancer journey, including medical and radiation oncologists, nurses, surgeons, mental health professionals, as well as patients, advocates, caregivers, researchers, and more.  Always at the forefront is the goal of providing education and support in a welcoming and non-threatening environment.

While more and more physicians are interacting with their patients on Twitter and in other forums, this is not routinely integrated into psychology or surgery practices. Ann and I had the opportunity to discuss why we initially opened Twitter accounts, how we got involved in a growing patient community, and how our on-line presence and interactions have impacted our clinical practices.

Many thanks to Dr. Chu and the planning committee of MedicineX for asking us to participate in this discussion, and to Liza for serving as an excellent moderator.