RaceTalk recently connected with Bertalan (Berci) Meskó, a “Medicine 2.0” enthusiast, active Twitter member, and up-and-coming medical mind who takes a look at the intersection of medicine, genetics and Web 2.0 on his award-winning blog, ScienceRoll. Among his many achievements, Berci is also a last-year medical student with a goal of becoming a clinical geneticist that specializes in personalized genomics. Below, Berci has given us some insight into the work he is doing, resources and tips for PR professionals, and a few best practices for engaging in healthcare and medical social media conversations and communities.
Q: How would you define Medicine 2.0?
Web 2.0 is changing the way medicine is practiced and healthcare is delivered. When we focus on the changes in medical education and communication between patients and physicians, we refer to it as medicine 2.0. When the healthcare system and on-line support groups are in focus, we refer to it as health 2.0. Actually, there is a new term, evidence-based web 2.0 originated from the evidence-based concept that is the main approach in medicine. As Dean Giustini said, it means the integration of the best available evidence of social software use in promoting effective time and information management skills in the digital age.
Q: What are a few sites, communities or resources you would recommend for a medical or healthcare company looking to get involved in Web 2.0?
There is a huge collection of medicine 2.0 services and sites on my blog and in the Medical Education Evolution community, we’re also working on a database containing useful links and tools of medicine and health 2.0.
But if I have to share some sites with people and companies who would like to know more about web 2.0, I would say they should follow our blog carnival; the blog of Clinical Cases and Images; the UBC Health Library wiki; the Second Life health events of the Ann Myers Medical Center and many more health-related blogs.
Q: Do you have any basic guidelines or tips for companies that want to participate in Web 2.0 healthcare communities?
It depends on what kind of communities they plan to participate in. The main approach here is not to create something similar to what others are already doing. There are more and more scientific community sites and plenty of them are based on the same concept which is not a good idea when you want to attract people to take part in constructing your community. I think these companies must come up with a unique idea; must be open to collaborate with and respect quality bloggers; should use the power of web 2.0 to promote their projects instead of sending impersonal PR letters everywhere. David Rothman, one of the best medical librarian bloggers, has recently written about this issue and had some tips for PR people.
Q: What is some advice you would offer for PR people engaging in conversation on behalf of their clients, who are working to raise awareness about medical products or services within a Web 2.0 healthcare community?
Even if many bloggers tend to think PR letters are useless, I think it is a good way to discover a new medical service. But to be honest, when I receive an e-mail from a PR person and it doesn’t start with a personal welcome message, I click on the delete button immediately. If they want me to promote a new service (which can be beneficial for me too as I can get interesting content) at least they should find out more about that particular blogger.
Of course, newspapers are the main channels to promote new services, but take a look at some blogs such as Medgadget.com or WSJ Health and how many visitors they regularly have. Quality health bloggers should be taken seriously.
Q: Where do you see the future of healthcare and medicine heading? Are there trends we should watch for?
I believe, the Medical Education Evolution community can change radically the way medical education is organized these days. Education should not be traditional while practicing medicine is changing rapidly. There are three trends we should follow.
I would say, Jay Parkinson and his on-line medical practice (hellohealth.com) are on one side of the river of medicine. He revolutionized the way medicine is practiced by having a laptop and a car and being without a staff or an office.
On the other side of the river, there are e-patients who would like to communite with their doctors on-line, who would like to find information about their medical conditions on-line and do a search for the name of their doctor in Google. A good example is Maarten Lens-Fitzgerald who blogs about his medical condition, shares messages on Twitter, images on Flickr and X-rays on Slideshare.
Between them, there should be a bridge which, I hope, Webicina will be. Webicina.com is the first medicine 2.0 service which aims to help physicians enter the web 2.0 era with personalized packages, on-line image building solutions and e-courses.
The reason why I’m saying medicine will change a lot in the next few years is not the power (or bubble) of web 2.0, but the needs and expectations of e-patients. They will change the way medicine is practiced and healthcare is delivered. And physicians of the 21st century should be open and qualified to meet these challenges.
Thank you, Berci for your time! To learn more, visit RaceTalk’s sister blog Diagnosis PR, where Berci has answered a few more questions for us about the future of medicine, virtual learning, and scientific and medical social media tools.