Health and Medical News and Resources

General interest items edited by Janice Flahiff

Why do I like Google+ even in Medicine?

Why do I like Google+ even in Medicine?.

Blog posting  by Dr. Bertalan Meskó in Science Roll: A doctor’s journey in genetics PhD and medicine through Web 2.0

Excerpts:

I’ve been playing around Google+ for the last couple of days and I have to admit it I really love it. Why? I’ve been using Facebook as a source of professional information but I have to add those people I like to follow as friends even if in most cases we are not friends. A few reasons why I useGoogle+ now for this purpose.

  • In Google+, we can easily create circles and start following people who we are not friends with.
  • It’s easy to determine who can see the information I share (everyone, only circles, only people in my contact list)
  • All Google tools are integrated.
  • I can search for people with specific words in their biographiesthrough Google.
  • I can use Spark for following expressions.
  • It might make it simpler to create private circles so then medical communication can take place.
  • I can see the notifications even in GMail or GDocs.

This is a real professional networking site, while Facebook is just a playground for friends.

For more details and tricks, here is the Complete Google Plus Cheat Sheetinfographics.

A Medical Librarian’s take on Google+ 

Excerpts from the Krafty Librarian blog item – More on G+

I am on Google+ and I am not sure if I like it.  I am sporadically kicking the tires, testing it out.

Here are some reasons I like it:

  • I like having everything Google together.  Iam not sure if I like how it brings up another window when I click the links to my email, calendar, docs, etc. on the Google bar, but I am not sure what work better.
  • I like the idea of Hangout, but I can only use it at home because it requires me to install a Google plugin and I don’t have a microphone or camera on my work computer.  I can see it being used for web conferencing and other professional things.  I tried Hangout one weekend but nobody in my Circles were hanging out so I really couldn’t test it.  I think I would Hangout more if I could do it on my phone.  I would also like to know if I could Hangout with people outside of my circle.  For example, I would like to attend topical Hangouts but I may not want to add those people to my circles.
  • Setting up your circles is much more intuitive and easier than setting up friend lists in Facebook.  It is really easy to do, you can click multiple people, drag and drop and easily create new circles.  The Facebook friends lists were always something sort of hidden.
  • Posts, it automatically and easily asks you who (which circles) you want your wall posts to be seen by.  In Facebook you have to play around with the post defaults and friend lists and remember to hit the arrow to change things when you don’t want a wall post to be seen by your default group.

Some of the things I don’t like:

  • Not enough people.  Yeah all of my geek friends are on it, but nobody else.  One family member is on it but he is always playing with cutting edge stuff.  So in order to share things online with family and friends, I still have to go onto Facebook since the majority of my non-geek friends are not on G+. I don’t like going to different places to share information (one reason I am rarely on LinkedIn), so I don’t see myself using it until/unless more of my regular friends join.
  • +1 button is confusing, until you know it is just Google’s version of Like.  After that it is just as boring as the Like button.  I would have liked it if you could hit the +1 button and then comment on the item or person’s comment……..


July 22, 2011 Posted by | Librarian Resources | , , , | Leave a comment

Quality varies in social networking websites for diabetics

Quality varies in social networking websites for diabetics
Researchers make recommendations for improving sites, provide safety tips for users

From the February 8, 2011 Eureka news alert

Boston, Mass. – Nearly one-half of U.S. adults who use the Internet participate in social networks. While these increasingly include health-focused networks, not much is known about their quality and safety. In one of the first formal studies of social networking websites targeting patients, researchers in the Children’s Hospital Boston Informatics Program performed an in-depth evaluation of ten diabetes websites.

Their audit found large variations in quality and safety across sites, with room for improvement across the board. As reported online January 24 in the Journal of the American Medical Informatics Association***, only 50 percent of the sites presented content consistent with diabetes science and clinical practice. Even fewer offered both scientific accuracy and patient protections such as safeguarding of personal health information, effective internal and external review processes and appropriate advertising.

For instance, seven of the ten sites did not allow members to restrict the visibility of their profiles. Five carried advertisements that were not labeled as such. And three sites went as far as to advertise unfounded “cures.”

“We saw that people are sharing incredible amounts of personal health information on these sites, including highly identifiable information,” says Elissa Weitzman, ScD, MSc, lead author on the study and an assistant professor in the laboratory of Kenneth Mandl, MD, MPH. “They are eager to accelerate their understanding of the disease, obtain support, find treatments and see if their experience is common or different.”

“There is on the one hand an enormous focus in the U.S. on health information privacy,” Mandl adds. “But privacy in a social network is somewhat of an oxymoron. On the whole, these networks tend to be about exposing your information online.”

The team evaluated diabetes websites that appeared prominently in Google searches and allowed members to create personal profiles and interact with each other. They looked at four key factors:

  1. agreement of content with diabetes science and clinical practice standards,
  2. practices for auditing content and supporting transparency,
  3. accessibility and readability of privacy policies, and
  4. the degree of control members had over the sharing of personal data.

The average number of members per website was 6,707. Activity ranged widely among the sites, from over 100 new posts per day to less than 5 new posts per day.

The majority of sites studied did not include a “disclaimer” encouraging patients to discuss their care regimen with a healthcare provider. Many sites also missed opportunities to communicate essential diabetes information, such as the definition of “A1c”—a biomarker commonly used by diabetics to access blood glucose levels.

In addition to recommending improvements in these areas, the authors saw a need for increased moderation, for the credentials of moderators to be more visible and for periodic external review. Further, potential conflicts of interest—such as ties to the pharmaceutical industry—needed to be more clearly disclosed, and privacy policies easier to understand.

Diabetes is only one illness in the rapidly growing list for which there are online social networks with thousands of users. The researchers chose to study diabetes-related networks because they were among the earliest to emerge and remain among the most active. They and colleagues in the Children’s Hospital Informatics Program are further studying how these sites are used—how people choose to interact with them and how specifically they share their medical information. Last year, Mandl and Weitzman developed an application for the social networking website TuDiabetes that allows users to submit their A1c levels to be displayed in a worldwide map, as part of an effort to encourage diabetes management and inform public health efforts and research.

The two believe that the emergence of online health communities and their large number of participants reveal unmet needs for information and support of patients and families. “Social networking activity is clearly replacing or adding value that is missing in the standard healthcare system,” Mandl says.

“We sought to jump start a conversation about how to balance patients’ safety with their autonomy,” Weitzman says, “as we’re in an era where terrific levels of healthcare communication are happening outside of the usual channels.”

While the names of the 9 sites were not mentioned,  the tables nicely summarized the extensive research done in the study.

The variables in the tables are valuable guide in determining if a social networking site provides good information, respects privacy, refers to users to health care professionals, is influenced by advertising, and more.

Below are the abbreviated tables

Table 1 Alignment of centralized content with diabetes science and clinical practice recommendations

Medical Alignment

1.Recommendation or ‘disclaimer’ to discuss regimen with healthcare provider

Clear central definitions, consistent with care standards
HbA1c
Prediabetes

2.Clear central information on clinical-practice recommendations

Routine checkups

Annual eye exams

3. Biannual HbA1c

4. Yearly flu vaccination

5. Annual lipid profile

6. Smoking cessation

Table 2 Safety practices for auditing content and supporting transparency and moderation of content

Quality of Information

External checks on editorial content

Evidence of outside audit of site content

Link to diabetes association on home page

Internal checks on user-generated content

Some form of forum moderation present

No of moderators available clearly marked

Credentials of moderators clearly stated

Evidence of professionally accredited moderators

Free of member-posted misinformation about a ‘cure’

Advertising content

Free of pharmaceutical advertising on home page

Clear distinction between editorial and advertising content

Free of deceptive advertising of ‘cure’ on site

*** For suggestions on how to get this article for free or at low cost click here.

For general guides to evaluating Web sites for health/medical information, try these

February 9, 2011 Posted by | Consumer Health | , , , , , | Leave a comment

   

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