I have found Twitter useful not just for communicating with other Rheumatologists, but also for engaging with patients and charity groups. I much prefer ‘curated’ digests of recent research to wading through long lists of journal articles (thanks to @amidauhoo, @doctorakerkar, @irheuma, @rheumatologe, @rheuma_suffolk, @Thearthritisdoc, among others). It is also convenient to be presented with links to useful articles or resources, particularly the full text articles. The ability to get immediate feedback on what others think of research findings that ‘might’ change my practice adds a new dimension and helps me to get to grips with the practical implications of the research. This is a sort of post-publication peer review by people who are actually in clinical practice rather than wrapped up in full time research. The 140 character restriction is a bit of a limitation, and I wish it were easier to move quickly from a Twitter discussion to one on a forum/google groups/linkedin. Although there is a pleasing immediacy about these Twitter debates, people who come to the discussion half way through will be less likely to join in if they haven’t seen the original question. I know that a lot of us blog from time to time, but some people do have a real talent and are worth going back to: some of these medical blogs are now on my regular reading list and I appreciate the Twitter updates that point to new blog articles. I’ve been finding that more people are commenting on blogs within Twitter and at although this often generates an immediate reaction, at the moment this doesn’t link up with the comments on the blog site. Some of the blogs are directed at patients, some at professionals and some are a bit ‘indeterminate’ in terms of focus (including my own). I have to admit that at the moment I am still a little wary of any detailed interaction with patients but this is an area I would hope to develop a little once I have a bit more experience. Patients have a lot to offer and are often very passionate about their condition. It is natural that sometimes reticence on the part of the health professional will be interpreted as coldness or indifference, but it is hard to get across some of the professional pitfalls we have to be wary of.
Who do I follow on Twitter (professionally)?
One of the reasons that I decided to spend some time using Twitter is because Ronan Kavanagh (@RonanTKavanagh) encouraged me to get involved. I don’t actually know most of the people I follow on Twitter although I look forward to meeting them in person at ‘tweetups’ during some of our professional conferences. Since the Twitter Rheumatology community is still quite small, we quite quickly get to know our new members, exchange a few messages and build some rapport and support for each other. I have tried to follow all of the English-tweeting Rheumatologists that I’ve come across, as well as some patients and charities who have followed or commented on my twitter posts. I have also been following some GPs in the rest of the UK such as Dr Ann Marie Cunningham (@amcunningham) who is interested in the use of SoMe in medical education. Through some of these contacts I have gained an insight into wider NHS debates and discussions about GMC guidelines etc. I have also found out about sites such as ‘@medgadget’ which keep me up to date with wearable technology and its potential applications in medicine and rehabilitation. I am also enjoying following Rheumatologist Martin Lee‘s (@martin_kayaking) epic kayak trip around Britain on Facebook and Twitter – daily updates keeps everyone interested. He is raising money for NRAS, a UK based RA charity. I also follow @kevinmd, @Doctor_V, @westr and @hjluks – all of whom are seasoned experts in social media in medicine. Howard Luks is an orthopedist and particularly helpful to Rheumatologists. For a bit of fun, try checking out the irreverent medical rapper @zdoggmd!
I haven’t yet used Google+ or Hangouts, although they look to be valuable tools for medics with better security and ‘boundaries’. Among our select group of Rheumatologists Carlo Caballero @carvicab is an expert in this area. Ronan has also set up a list of Rheumatologists on Twitter called ‘Rheumatologistswhotweet‘.
Blogs (Ronan Kavanagh; Jordan Grumet). Consistently high quality blogs. Ronan’s new website is state of the art in terms of design, but the content isn’t bad, either. Jordan Grumet provides reflections that are very well written and thought provoking. I get RSS feeds to update me on new posts in case I miss them on Twitter. I dip into other blogs if I think they are useful at the time. There’s some great stuff out there and I don’t have the space to name all of the good ones!
Books (Eric Topol: Creative Destruction of Medicine) – Recommended to me through Twitter. This cutting edge and somewhat provocative book has stimulated me to learn more about genetics/genomics and broader applications of technology in medicine (which had been one of my interests, albeit in a narrower field). You can also follow @EricTopol, regarded to be the most influential figure in medicine in the US at the moment.
iBooks (PDFs or interactive iBooks)
- Irwin Lim: Ankylosing Spondylitis interactive iBook. An impressive example of the potential of ibooks, incorporating video, slideshows, quizzes, interactive images and audio.
- MSK Ultrasound atlas PDF: Hilde Berner Hammer (ARD supplement) Grades 1-4 for each joint Greyscale and Doppler. Perfect on the iPad!
- ESSR Ultrasound technical guidelines – very useful pdf guides to standard examination protocols for each main joint area
Presentations/Prezis (Bertalan Mesko: @Berci has spent an enormous amount of time preparing his social media course at Webicina.com. At the moment this is completely free!). The social media course is a particularly impressive piece of work, and Berci has also curated material in a wide variety of disciplines. Why not have a go at creating your own Prezi and share the result with your admiring colleagues/trainees?
My favourite General Tools
- Twitter for ipad (3/5)
- Tweetbot for ipad (4/5)
- Tweetdeck (on PC) (4/5)
- Evernote (4/5)
- Goodreader (PDFs): 4/5
- Instapaper 3/5
- Feedler (RSS feeds) 3/5
- WordPress for ipad (2/5)
- Prezi viewer (3/5)
- Documents to Go (1/5)
- Mindmaps (3/5)
- Epocrates – the most popular medical app, a great free resource for information about medication. It is unfortunate that it is only US based as they ditched the UK list of drug names some years ago.
- ISpondylitis (Irwin Lim & colleagues) – So far, I’ve only looked at the free version – the animated exercise section is particularly amazing! Please get this app and let Irwin know what you think. There’s a lot of work has gone into this development and I hope there will be more apps like this from Rheumatologists.
- NASS: Ankylosing Spondylitis – Again, an excellent resource with animated exercise. Best of all, there could be a local NASS charity group near you (& your patient). Get this app and support the work they are doing!
- Medscape – CME portal; App for iPad good medication resource
- Das28 app (although I tend to use the web based DAWN DAS28 calculator)
- Drchrono (I haven’t used this yet)
So that’s it: a quick review of what’s on my eBookshelf at the moment. Apologies if I’ve left anyone out. If you’re a Rheumatologist why don’t you share your own experience? You’d be welcome to submit a guest post here about how your practice has benefited from your use of online resources.