Robert Glatter, MD; Michael C. Bond, MD


April 02, 2014

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Robert Glatter, MD: Hi. I am Dr. Robert Glatter, Editorial Board Member for Medscape Emergency Medicine. Welcome to AAEM 2014 -- the American Academy of Emergency Medicine Annual Scientific Assembly. With me is Dr. Michael Bond, Associate Professor of Emergency Medicine in the Department of Emergency Medicine at the University of Maryland in Baltimore, who is going to discuss the emerging use of social media in emergency medicine. Welcome, Dr. Bond.

Michael C. Bond, MD: Hi. Thank you for having me.

Dr. Glatter: My pleasure. What are the advantages of using social media in the practice of emergency medicine?

Dr. Bond: The biggest advantage is that social media is enabling people who otherwise would not have a big voice in education or disseminating information to become known. There are tons of stories of people who are boosting their careers by using social media and making themselves known.

The other big area being helped by social media is the rapid dissemination of information. No longer do we have to wait for a journal article to be mailed to us to have an editorial debate. Even before the prerelease of an article, people are debating it back and forth, so there is a much quicker editorial process and dissemination of information -- and this allows anyone, at any "shop," anywhere in the world to get involved. You do not have to be in the United States. It is nice to get the Australian, Canadian, Dutch, or English perspectives on how they practice.

Dr. Glatter: Right. Can you discuss what "meducation" means and what "FOAM" stands for? That has been a big term brought up in emergency medicine.

Dr. Bond: FOAM started in Dublin. In 2012, Mike Cadogan and his buddies from Australia were at the International Conference on Emergency Medicine (ICEM) conference, and over a couple of pints of Guinness -- no one will say how many -- they came up with the idea. I think the acronym "FOAM" came from the foam of the beer, but it stands for "Free Open-Access Meducation" (ie, medical education).

That is what meducation is about. What they really want to do is freely disseminate as much information as they can -- all the articles out there, all the new information that is coming out, all the new information on drugs, treatment plans, everything -- and get it out to everyone.

We are lucky in the United States; we have a pretty good amount of money and lots of resources. But other places in the world do not have that, so they are looking at a global effort to get the information out there so we can improve care worldwide, not just here.

Dr. Glatter: This will allow physicians in other parts of the world to learn new techniques that they never would have been exposed to, essentially?

Dr. Bond: Correct. Information on new techniques, new ideas, and new medicines will be available quicker. We think we are in the most "techie" country in the world, but our Internet is actually weak compared with some of these other countries. Although they might not have a lot of infrastructure, almost every country has some sort of Internet access, so this enables healthcare professionals in these countries to quickly access all the same resources.

Dr. Glatter: Do you see any drawbacks from the use of this technology now?

Dr. Bond: The only drawback, people might say, is that bad information can be disseminated, but information is edited so quickly that misinformation is quickly squashed. People have studied such sites as Wikipedia, the online encyclopedia. You can pick any topic, make a couple of edits, and it will be less than 5 minutes before it is corrected.

Dr. Glatter: The authors or people who disseminate the articles certainly watch their Twitter feeds, for example. If they are worried about what they have published online, they can correct it if there is something that is not quite accurate?

Dr. Bond: Correct. Yes, people will jump on and quickly debunk information. Some of the junk science we have had in the past -- for example, vaccines causing autism, or dicyclomine causing birth defects -- those stories would have been squashed a lot quicker today than they could have been 40 years ago, because it was so much harder to get the information out.

Dr. Glatter: For physicians who are currently not using this technology -- who are not on social media, using Twitter, or on certain blogs, especially emergency medicine related -- would you say that they are not able to keep up with the amount of information?

Dr. Bond: I would not say they cannot keep up, but I will say it is much harder for them. To be able to look at all the different journals that are out and new ones coming out all the time, and all these open-access journals that are popping up, is difficult. There are niche services that will look at all the articles in their fields and summarize them for you. It is much easier to read the summary and see the debate that pops up than to have to trawl the original research and the original papers. No one has time to look at every journal, but one can follow the blogs.

Or, if you are on Twitter, you do not have to get involved -- you can just lurk and read what others have to say. Just because you are on Twitter does not mean that you have to be tweeting and having a social presence; you can just be there to take in the information. You will see what people are talking about the most.


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