Popular micro-blogging service Twitter can be a valuable means of healthcare information and medical alerts.
The social networking website, which lets a group of recipients receive short messages, or "tweets" simultaneously, has come under the consideration of physician groups, hospitals, and healthcare organizations who were looking at its benefit to communicate timely information both within the medical community and to patients and the public.
Twitter could also emerge as a significant tool for sharing time-critical information such as disaster alerts and drug safety warnings, tracking disease outbreaks, or disseminating healthcare information, experts believe.
Dr. Joseph C. Kvedar, Director of the Center for Connected Health (Partners Healthcare System, Boston, MA), said: "One way to look at Twitter is as a method of mass communication."
However, warning bells were also sounded against the use of social media and Internet-based outlets to communicate medical information to preserve confidentiality and patient privacy in the clinical care setting, and to make sure that information sources were accurate, reliable, and current.
The article has been published in the Medical Connectivity section of the latest issue of Telemedicine and e-Health and the official journal of the American Telemedicine Association.