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GW Researchers Publish First Comprehensive Review of Social Media as a Tool in Medicine

WASHINGTON (April 8, 2013) – As social media drastically alters the world we live in, physicians are left wondering what their role is in the digital revolution. In the first comprehensive review of its kind, experts at the George Washington University (GW) School of Medicine and Health Sciences (SMHS) have outlined the challenges and opportunities of using social media in a clinical care setting. Published by the American Heart Association journal, Circulation, this review will help guide physicians as they enter the social media arena.

 “Physicians may lag in their adoption of social media because they are being appropriately cautious,” said Terry Kind, M.D., M.P.H., associate professor of pediatrics at GW SMHS and co-author of the piece. “However, because many patients use social media, and the next generation of physicians – those we teach and mentor – have grown up as digital natives, it’s so important now to step in, but to do so thoughtfully, ethically, and professionally.”

The article is titled “Social Media and Clinical Care: Ethical, Professional, and Social Implications” and co-authored by Kind and Katherine Chretien, M.D., associate professor of medicine at GW SMHS. The review outlines ways social media is being used for clinical care, followed by a discussion of the major ethical, professional, and social issues relevant to this use. The authors also provide recommendations for physicians’ ethical and professional use of social media in a variety of contexts. By writing this article, Chretien sought to help guide physicians in their use of social media, who may be unsure of the professional or ethical implications.

“Social media is the future,” said Chretien. “We need to  go forward responsibly.” 

The article highlights the ways social media is transforming medicine, touching on new ways physicians can communicate with their patients, each other, and the public. This offers tremendous potential for physicians to improve healthcare. 

“We could ignore social media, but it’s not going away,” said Kind. “Rather, we should take the transformative path and embrace it, if what we are calling social media is being connected, communicative, and joining in a place for learning.”

To interview Dr. Chretien or Dr. Kind, please contact Lisa Anderson at lisama2@gwu.edu or 202-994-3121.

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About the School of Medicine and Health Sciences

Founded in 1825, the GW School of Medicine and Health Sciences (SMHS) was the first medical school in the nation’s capital and is the 11th oldest in the country. Working together in our nation’s capital, with integrity and resolve, the GW SMHS is committed to improving the health and well-being of our local, national and global communities.