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Experts convene at medical school to discuss social media and patient-physician relationship

More than 400 medical researchers, physicians, health-care blogger and e-patients gathered at the Stanford Summit @ Medicine 2.0 last Friday to discuss how the development and deployment of social technologies will shape health care and biomedical research in 2011 and beyond. The Stanford Summit was held at the Li Ka Shing Center for Learning and Knowledge.

The daylong forum was organized into five themes and featured presentations from medical industry innovators and panels designed to spark discussion about how to leverage web-based tools to deliver leading-edge and coordinated care that is personalized.

Stanford physician and best-selling author Abraham Verhgese, MD, kicked off the event and introduced an overarching theme of the day: how health-care providers can embrace emerging technologies without losing the human touch that goes into patient care.

That theme was explored futher during the "Healthcare Transformers" session, which featured talks by Lee Aase, director of the Mayo Clinic Center for Social Media; Seattle pediatrician Wendy Sue Swanson, MD; Jay Parkinson, MD, MPH, founder of The Future Well and HealthTap CEO Ron Gutman.

Aase's talk titled, "Bringing the Social Media Revolution to Health Care" centered on how to bridge the gap between "ePatients," who have been using social media and the broad population of medical professionals that are beginning to utilize them. He encouraged attendees to take a "MacGyver approach" to social media by evaluating the tools and resources that are available, adapting them to meet your specific communication needs and empowering staffers to explore. Aase concluded his talk by saying, "Applying social media isn't just inevitable, it's the right thing to do in the interest of the patients."

Following Aase where a pair of dynamic talks by Parkinson and Swanson, who both explain how they used web tools to interact and engage with patients. Parkinson, who launched Hello Health in 2007, recounted his experience pioneering an Internet-based health care delivery system. A mixture of secure social network and electric medical records, Hello Health allows doctors and patients to connect in the office and online via e-mail, IM and video chat.

During his talk, Parkinson urged physicians to challenge the status quo and find creative ways to reach out to patients. Taking a different tack than Parkinson's, Swanson discussed how physicians could work within the current healthcare system and use social media to strengthen relationships with patients. Swanson, who blogs for Seattle Children's Hospital, talked about how she combined scientific research with personal anecdotes to educate patients, alleviate their concerns and foster trust. She issued a call to action and encouraged all physicians to begin using social media to improve the quality of health information on the Internet and engage patients.

"We all need to share our stories," she said. "We have to get out there the minute when someone says something wrong and be voices of reason."

The use of web technologies to build trust between physician and patients was continued in Gutman's presentation.

After the presentations concluded, the three speakers participated in a brief panel discussion moderated by Bryan Vartabedian, MD.

More news about the Medicine 2.0 conference at Stanford is available in theĀ Medicine 2.0 category.

Photo by Stanford EdTech

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