Verify health information on Twitter before using it in daily practice

Dr KK Aggarwal

Padma Shri Awardee

Advances in medicine have added greatly to the therapeutic armamentarium of the doctor. There are several options that a doctor can choose from unlike the yesteryears. Similar is the case with diagnostic options. In this age of evidence-based medicine, doctors need to stay updated with current advances in medicine in general including their specialties in order to make the best decision for their patients. Traditionally, it used to be print medical journals, which may yet be the source of information for many doctors. But, the internet and the advent of social media, especially Twitter, have changed the way we communicate today. The reach of social media is phenomenal.

Healthcare professionals use Twitter not only to connect with their colleagues, but also as a quick resource to access new information and events, often ‘real time’ i.e. as they are happening, particularly when time is of the essence.

While better connectivity has contributed immensely to the practice of medicine by disseminating knowledge, on the flip side of it, sifting out the valid from the invalid on the internet is no simple task.

There is no denying that Twitter can gain you the latest information in the form of a practice changing update, breaking news, conference updates or what are the most currently discussed ‘trending’ topics. You can also be a part of the ‘Twitter discussions’. But it is important to examine the credibility of the tweet, whether the content posted is evidence-based or is a personal opinion. The information in the permitted 140-280 characters usually may be the interpretation of that particular Twitter account holder. Always go the main article and try to verify the source. Review the information for yourself, before you decide to use it in your daily practice.

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