Now Writing (Article published!): Social Media and The Health System – The Permanente Journal

Fellow social media enthusiasts Jeff Benabio, MD ( @dermdoc ), Rahul Parikh, MD ( @docrkp ), Vince Golla ( @vincegolla ), Sara Stein, MD ( @sarasteinmd ), and I decided to enter the realm of writing in the peer-reviewed world to submit and eventually publish this article in The Permanente Journal. The Journal “advances knowledge in scientific research, clinical medicine, and innovtive health care delivery.” The Journal is also MEDLINE/PubMed Central indexed, which means that the article will reach mainstream medical professionals who do literature searches.

Why did we do it? Because we wanted to create an informational piece useful for medical/clinical leaders who wonder about the potential impact of social media, visible in vehicles they are used to (high quality peer-reviewed publications). In addition, we wanted to showcase some of the great thinking we’ve seen from colleagues like @htpotter @susannahfox @bobcoffield @seattlemamadoc @paulflevy @charleneli, also in this setting.

Because this is a journal that makes its articles accessible to all on the Internet, we invite you to use the piece as a conversation starter with your leadership (or yourself) around the “why?” and implications of engaging with the people you serve using interactive media.

Feel free to post thoughts in the comments, of course, and thanks to everyone at The Permanete Journal for their enthusiasm for sharing and informing about innovative practices in health and health care delivery.


A very timely and comprehensive article -thanks Ted & Co. It's good to see something published that doesn't just focus on the negatives or the legalities but gives us an overall picture of social media in the health system.

I'm about to undertake some research into social media usage by Australian doctors and nurses to understand if and how they are using these tools in a professional capacity. I am especially interested in peer-to-peer engagement using social media tools. You've touched on this in relation to the H1N1 outbreak of 2009 however I would be very interested in other examples where social media has been used for peer-to-peer engagement.It's a trust based system- it makes sense that healthcare workers use it as another way of disseminting clinical information and sharing clinical scenarios. I would be great to hear and read more about how this is already ocurring.

Dear Carolyn,

Thanks for the comment and the information that there's interest in this topic in the Australian medical community! Please feel free to update me/us via Twitter/blog posts/article/guest post on this blog on what you find.

Are you looking at social networks Sermo and Ozmosis? These are two that I know of that are tailored to physicians. Also, within Kaiser Permanente there is now an internal social network getting off the ground that may serve similar purpose – I like your idea of working to understand how clinicians best use social media for peer-peer interactions – I suspect (and I believe) that both the networks mentioned above have a lot of experience with this,


Dear Ted,

thanks for the tips! I'll certainly look into them more closely. I would be very grateful for more information about KP's internal social network as I'm looking for some case studies we can learn from.

I would be very happy to share my results with you here when I've completed the reaserch- hopefully by mid-2011.



Thanks for your recent comments on my blog about social media and patient communities. Your article for the Permanente Journal is a great start at letting physicians hear from one of their own that this social media "thing" isn't going away, and that its energies can be harnessed.

("The Internet? Huh! Is that thing still around?" –Homer Simpson)

As you pointed out in your comment to me, the hazard still remains that concerned, inquisitive patients will come away from their online communities with misinterpretations or just flat wrong information. Knowing that you've given this some thought, I'd be interested to hear what you have planned to encourage patients to exercise that critical thinking "muscle."

And finally, thanks for the comment on our cumbersome commenting system at KTExchange. We're taking a look at that right now.



Thanks for coming over to continue the conversation, I think critical thinking is enhanced when patients and physicians participate together rather than separately. I'd answer less in terms of what I have planned than in what I'd like to do, which is explore social media as a means to reduce the information gap between patient and physician, much as I/we have done in the use of the personal health record at Group Health/Kaiser Permanente. After all, it is society that paid for our educations, so that we can be the trusted source of health information that Susannah's data show that we are, right?


Okay Ted,

You've got me crunching on this topic now. I just posted a new blog on the critical thinking issue, asking three crucial questions about e-patient communities and critical thinking. Let me know what you think.


Ted Eytan, MD