Friday, February 11, 2011

Social media as a CME tool

Although the idea is not at all new social media are still not being utilized to their potential. Thomas Sullivan, who blogs at Policy and Medicine, guest posted at Kevin MD on this topic. He wrote:

First, using social media will support CME activities, initiatives, and healthcare professional learning. Such support would include using social media to direct HCPs to accredited CME events, peer reviewed journals, and clinical studies. This would give HCPs a reliable source of information to depend on, which is especially important considering “a Manhattan Research report from April 2010 suggests that up to 50 percent of healthcare provid­ers have used the online, user-compiled encyclopedia Wikipedia in practice.” Accordingly, the CME community should begin using social media to prevent HCPs from relying on less credible and less regulated sources of medical information, especially since the broader medical community is already doing so.... 
Through the use of social media technologies, CME professionals can disseminate outcomes and assessment data through numerous channels, and discuss stories of the benefits and value of CME.

These are some of the things I try to accomplish through blogging.

Although I agree largely with what Sullivan said this comment, citing an article by Brian S. McGowan, PhD, concerns me:

As evidence to the lack of use of social media in the CME community, McGowan pointed out that of “the more than 1,500 attendees at the 2010 Annual Meeting of the Alliance for Continuing Medical Education, only six people were tweeting via Twitter—and only a couple were contributing more than “come see my booth”-type messages.”

I know a lot of people will disagree with me here, but, sorry, IMHO you just can't Tweet a conference. You'll miss too many nuances and not do the content justice. (You can Tweet an article so long as you link to the primary source. You can't do that for a conference presentation).

The question of how social media fit into CME overlaps but goes considerably beyond the notion of Web 2. Web 2 traditionally comprised wikis and blogs. But the notion of social media casts a wider net. Now you have to include Twitter, Facebook and Myspace, and that's where the conversation gets more complicated. Should there be a hierarchy, like the EBM pyramid? How high on the pyramid should an outlet be to be considered worthy?

Many barriers remain to be resolved before social media find their proper place in prime time in the world of CME. One of these is an inconsistency of attitudes towards social media by health care organizations. While some organizations, particularly academic medical centers, embrace certain media for educational purposes, others have restrictive policies. After all, no one wants their employees Facebooking on the job.


Brian S. McGowan, PhD said...

Thanks for the post, you make a number of great points. As of February 2011 the CME community has come a long way and I am very proud of that fact, but there is a long way to go before the real value of social media is understaood or realized in CME. First and foremost we still do not have a definitive understanding of how docs and other HCPs are engaging, how they are useing social media to learn and to share. I hope to have these answers by the middle of 2011. As for the CME community, I have been asked more than a few times what can be done today, and my answer is always the same - education is and always will be about the learner, if learners are not using social media than it makes little sense for the educators to try to drag them somewhere they aren't comfortable - BUT (and this is a big but) if and when the docs and HCPs are readily using social media to support their learning, CME professionals must be ready to support this learning.

...the small steps we are making now, suggests that some portion of the CME community will be ready to engage in social learning through social media when then healthcare community is ready to jump in.

Dean Jenkins said...

I agree things are improving but there also needs to be a change in perspective of those who 'deliver CME'.

This means a move from broadcast media to social learning and a change in the notion of control of CME.