Practical guidance: the use of social media in oncology practice.J Oncol Pract. 2012 Sep; 8(5):e114-24.JO
The penetration of social media into modern society has become a worldwide cultural phenomenon. Social media use widely accessible Web-based and mobile technologies to facilitate the creation and sharing of user-generated content in a collaborative and social manner. The uptake of social media in medicine provides new opportunities for health care professionals and institutions to interact with patients and other professionals. Oncologists may use social media as a platform for patient education and authoritative health messaging, for professional development and knowledge sharing, and for direct patient interaction, although this may be fraught with important legal and privacy concerns. In this article, a working group of the ASCO Integrated Media and Technology Committee explores how oncologists might responsibly use social media in their professional lives. Existing social media policies from hospitals, health systems, and pharmaceutical industries are examined to identify common concepts informing the development of future guidelines. Key principles identified include establishing institutional ownership of social media activities and safeguarding protected health information. Furthermore, oncologists must not confuse the roles of provider of information and provider of care, must understand regulations related to state licensure and medical records, and must recognize the importance of transparency and disclosure of potential conflicts of interest. social media may be particularly useful for raising the awareness of and recruitment to clinical trials, but compliance with federal and state regulations and areas under the purview of a local institutional review board must also be ensured. Examples of constructive use of social media in oncology with Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube are provided.