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Study: First Comprehensive Review of Social Media as a Tool in Medicine

April 11, 2013

WASHINGTON – As technology and social media continually change the way people live their lives, healthcare professionals are trying to understand how this medium can help them treat and interact with patients and communities. In a comprehensive review, researchers at Children’s National Medical Center and the George Washington University (GW) School of Medicine and Health Sciences (SMHS) outlined the challenges and opportunities of using social media in a clinical care setting, providing guidelines to other physicians. The study, written by Katherine Chretien, MD, and Terry Kind, MD, MPH, appears in the American Heart Association journal, Circulation.

“Physicians may lag in their adoption of social media because they are being appropriately cautious,” said Dr. Kind, Director of Pediatric Medical School Education, Associate Professor of Pediatrics at GW SMHS. “However, because many patients use social media, and the next generation of physicians – those we teach and mentor – have grown up as digital natives, it’s so important now to step in, but to do so thoughtfully, ethically, and professionally.”

The review outlines clinical care uses of social media, and discusses the major ethical, professional, and social issues relevant to this kind of use. The article highlights the ways social media is transforming medicine, touching on new ways physicians can communicate with their patients, each other, and the public. This offers tremendous potential for physicians to improve healthcare. The authors also provide recommendations for physicians’ ethical and professional use of social media in a variety of contexts.

For more information, please contact Paula Darte or Emily Hartman at 202-476-4500.

About Children's National Health System

Children’s National Health System, based in Washington, D.C., has served the nation’s children since 1870. Children’s National is one of the nation’s Top 5 pediatric hospitals and, for a second straight year, is ranked No. 1 in newborn care, as well as ranked in all specialties evaluated by U.S. News & World Report. It has been designated two times as a Magnet® hospital, a designation given to hospitals that demonstrate the highest standards of nursing and patient care delivery. This pediatric academic health system offers expert care through a convenient, community-based primary care network and specialty outpatient centers in the D.C. Metropolitan area, including the Maryland suburbs and Northern Virginia. Home to the Children’s Research Institute and the Sheikh Zayed Institute for Pediatric Surgical Innovation, Children’s National is the seventh-highest NIH-funded pediatric institution in the nation. Children’s National is recognized for its expertise and innovation in pediatric care and as a strong voice for children through advocacy at the local, regional and national levels. 

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