Social media makes doctors smarter (Social Media macht Ärzte schlauer)

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    An Australian study shows that what patients share before and after an MRI on Twitter is revealing and can help to improve patient satisfaction.

    Patientin macht im Krankenhausbett ein SelfieOpen picture in Lightbox.

    Bildlegende:Today is no more rarity: Patients inform their circle of acquaintances via social media about their condition. IMAGO

    Twitter is used by millions of people every day in English-speaking countries. Not only to comment on important events, but also to share personal experiences with friends and acquaintances.

    Jonathan Hewis, a researcher at Charles Sturt University in Perth, has investigated whether the social media announcements shared on the social media platform can be used to improve patient satisfaction.

    The Australian analyzed 464 tweets for a month, which were somehow related to an MRI investigation. It was shown that the patients expressed their concern about various aspects of the process, with the possibility of a bad diagnosis causing particular stress.

    Tweets as a mirror of the mindset

    "The study suggests that an imminent MRI will deal with patients over a longer period of time, and the associated fears will shift and change throughout the study," says Hewis."To take the fears of the MRI and the resulting results seriously is an important lesson for both the assigning physicians and the implementing institutes."

    The analysis of the tweets also showed directly how the patients experience an MRI and how they could have made the examination more pleasant. Thus a Twitterer wrote that he had appeared in the scan, as if he were "in a stinksauren fax machine".

    Another patient complained that she was not allowed to choose the music that was played during the MRI. "Even selected music is recognized as a simple way to make the unfamiliar procedure more pleasant," emphasizes Hewis.

    The Internet in the service of science

    The Australian researcher is convinced that in the interest of patient satisfaction it is worthwhile paying more attention to the social media channels in the future. This is already common practice in other areas of health care. Thus, the frequency of certain search terms on Wikipedia and Google is used to track and predict the course and the intensity of the annual flu wave.

    And in the case of the Ebola epidemic, the first case was reported on Twitter in 2014 - three days before the official outbreak of the epidemic.

    Period20 Nov 2015

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