“Do You Practice Twitter-Based Medicine?” and the elephant in the room.

That’s the question Milton Parker asked.  A great question he found based on some answers he did not expect that brought him to this question.

Last week I wondered if physicians were reading journalsin order to keep up with advances in their field. The overwhelming consensus was “No!” In fact, some wrote to me claiming that medical journals were a major source of misinformation.

If medical journals are so unreliable, how are physicians keeping up with the development of new diagnostic tests or with improvements in treatment?

According to one physician: There are no new advances in medicine. Every advance is simply hype on the part of industry.

Another clinician said: I used to wait for guidelines, but they are very long and hard to understand, and different guidelines conflict with each other. The guidelines take years to develop, so they are all out-of-date.

A third response: I try to listen to audiotapes by established authorities, but they don’t necessarily cover areas of interest to me.

And finally: I used to go to conferences, but most speakers are from my own institution, so there are no fresh ideas. In the past, there were many really good outside speakers, but not any more.

Sadly, the four respondents just added to the list of sources that were not reliable. So I kept asking: How do you keep up with advances in medicine? Finally, for some, there seemed to be one answer.

Twitter.

The analysis started Ok, but to me then changed course away from the original question: where do you get your information from and WHY? This is where IMHO  the elephant came in the room. It seems the people he questioned aren’t satisfied with the current models, so maybe that should be the objective.

So, I don’t know how extensive of a test he took when he turned to Twitter himself, but we all know it takes time to build a vast cohort of expects to follow.

Be sure to read the comments section as well and I expect this post to get some more traction soon.

Note: Packer recently consulted for Amgen, AstraZeneca, Bayer, Boehringer Ingelheim, Cardiorentis, Daiichi Sankyo, Gilead, Novo Nordisk, Relypsa, Sanofi, Takeda, and ZS Pharma. He chairs the EMPEROR Executive Committee for trials of empagliflozin for the treatment of heart failure. He was previously the co-PI of the PARADIGM-HF trial and serves on the Steering Committee of the PARAGON-HF trial, but has no financial relationship with Novartis.