Wednesday, February 02, 2011

Why Doctors Shouldn't Use Twitter for Patient Care

There's a lot of buzz about using Twitter and other forms of social media to improve health care (see, for example, "More Patients Meeting With Doctors Via Web Programs Such as Skype", and "Is The Future Of Healthcare Communications In Social Media?"). In particular, physicians are being encouraged to use social media -- Twitter in particular -- to help them deliver better health care.

But it seems that physicians are reluctant to do it for a variety of reasons (see, for example, "Are Doctors Avoiding Twitter Because of 'Doctor Bashing'?"). If doctors DID become big fans of Twitter, we might see the scenario depicted in the following New Yorker cartoon*, which appeared in the recent issue:

*Note: I changed the caption, which originally read “We’d like to start out being very involved with you but eventually be drawn away to much more interesting cases down the hall.”


  1. This may sound trite, but any limit to length of text, such as in twitter, would to me be a problem for medical or other discussions where there is responsibility.

  2. If I wrote a list of reasons why doctors should NOT use Twitter for patient care, your concern would be first on the list.

  3. Anonymous10:44 AM

    Doctors should pay more attention to patients and spend time with them than be immersed in social media for their treatment...

  4. I do think Twitter can serve the function of good information dissemination. If a doctor wants to alert her patients to an interesting article or diet regimen or whatever, Twitter might help with that, if followers know to check their doctors' posts individually. It's not a great tool for conversations that involve one's medical treatment.


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