Beware Social Media’s Pitfalls

Scott Mace, for HealthLeaders Media , November 13, 2012

According to Bryan Vartabedian, MD, news of this prompted medical bloggers online at the time, to shut down their online activities.  "Even the ones who were doing everything just right, wiped their presence, did a scorched earth policy and took themselves right off" the Web.

Vartabedian spoke at the same Association of American Medical Colleges meeting where the Mayo Clinic's Farris Timimi MD spoke and informed my column last week. Vartabedian is assistant professor of pediatrics at the Baylor College of Medicine, and an attending physician at Texas Childrens Hospital. He's also been present in the health blogosphere since 2006, and writes about the intersection of medicine, social media, and technology at

Physicians "are being completely redefined" by a number of forces, social media being one of them, Vartabedian says.

"Patients are changing dramatically, and they in turn are changing us," Vartabedian told the AAMC crowd. "The encounter with the physician is slowly emerging as a smaller and smaller piece of a patient's quest to get better."

Instead of patients going to doctors who then find information, information is now finding patients, who then take that to doctors, Vartabedian says. And now, technology that patients carry with them is generating more information. In the next two years, patients' very behavior will increasingly be recorded and fed to big data systems for analysis, he says.

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