Online networking can have clinical value


Twitter and similar sites are becoming more than time-wasters.

Does your practice have an online presence? Does your practice “tweet?” If these things mean nothing to you, it might be time to examine your positioning on the World Wide Web.

Social media is evolving. Some networking Web sites that came to life as potential time-wasters have mutated into viable information outlets. Take Twitter, for example. You may have become familiar with the "micro-blogging" site as a source for information of questionable value (do I really need to read tweets about my Uncle Al eating lunch or who my junior high niece thinks is cute?). However, Internet-savvy users are seizing this immediate broadcasting format as a useful tool.

A recent article in Telemedicine and e-Health characterizes how healthcare organizations are putting such online social networking to use. The ability to disseminate critical information to a large number of people in real time has obvious benefits: Medical alerts and warnings and disease monitoring, for example, are time-sensitive topics that need to be spread far and wide in a hurry. In fact, any topic of interest or importance to your clients can be swiftly addressed by using online media like Twitter.

Of course, you need to be careful if you use an Internet-based platform for these types of applications. As with any medical correspondence, pay special attention to information accuracy as well as honoring clients' privacy.

Will your practice jump on the information bandwagon or be left in the communications dark ages?

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