April 30, 2013
More social media
I've been playing with Twitter (@rbstansfield) as a work-related information channel. I follow medical education hashtags (#meded is used a lot, but also some conference-specific ones pop up occasionally). I have noticed a few things. These are in no particular order:
- At least 80% of of #meded tweets are about social media itself. Doctors and medical educations on Twitter seem primarily interested in promoting the use of Twitter for doctoring and medical educating. It almost seems like a joke with so many people talking about how great this tool is but very little evidence that anyone is actually using the tool for anything.
- There's a powerful skew to the tweets-per-user. I had to actually unfollow one prominent meded tweeter because my feed was almost homogenously him. I've since started following a lot more users so perhaps it wouldn't be so aversive now. But in general most tweets in my feed come from only a small percentage of the people I follow.
- There's little space to do more than just link. Any idea or argument with more than one logical step has to be planned carefully. The linguistic compression necessary to keep tweets short renders text unreadable after a while. Again, I'm sure I'll get the hang of it as I go.
- There's a bland kind of hyperbole in the community. And the hyperbole tends to be positive. Right now there's a tweet being re-tweeted in my feed: here it is. It's very typical of my Twitter feed content. It's a nod to a brief web article with a summary that sounds intriguing: how do med students use apps? Well if you follow the link you learn that most med students have smartphones with the iPhone being the most popular and that they spend a good amount time using "apps" on them but not so much around patients because they don't want to give the impression of being disengaged or callous. That's good, I guess, but it's hardly a description of how med students use apps. This tweet will bounce around a few people's feeds and occupy a few minds for a few minutes before evaporating. I doubt it will help anything or inspire anyone or change anyone's mind about anything. But it's quick and it's fast and there's an awful lot of it so in the aggregate it's probably having a bigger impact.
So that's where I am with Twitter. What am I missing?
March 05, 2013
Knowledge vs. know-how
The heady stuff of medicine---the diagnosis, the treatment decisions, the patient interactions---are dramatic enough for TV. But apparently the technical things about how things are done are not.
There's a lesson in here somewhere.
October 10, 2012
A stupid NYTimes article (part 1)
Okay I'm going to read the stupid thing.
Nope I had to stop when I hit this:
"He reached into a deep pocket of his white coat and produced not a well-thumbed handbook but his iPhone. With a tap on an app called MedCalc, he had enough answers within a minute to start the saline at precisely the right rate."
The thesis here is that since doctors can look up dosages and test values using a small computer instead of a book or notecard we all now live in a new age of medicine. That is absurd. Lookup tables are lookup tables. Perhaps the invention of the spiral notebook made similar waves in the health industry?
Plus: iPhone and MedCalc are trademarks which makes this article very ad-like. Also the doctor had the answer "[w]ithin a minute..."? I bet the "well-thumbed handbook" would have easily beaten that time. But at least MedCalc for iPhone provided "precisely" the correct answer.
(This is minor but I can't let the "[w]ith a tap on an app" crap slide. It's delightfully Seussian and that's fine. But 1) "app" is not really a word and 2) if it took only one tap I'll eat my cap. This writing is pap.)
My point is this: the passage overstates the innovation of a computerized look-up table over a paper one, it exaggerates the accuracy and ease of use of such things, and it slyly advertises for particular products while it does it.
God I loathe the New York Times. I'll try to get further through this article later, though. It's the paper of record, after all.