The ‘perils’ of the social media for clinicians and ‘Who is TheLastGeneralCardiologist anyway?’

When I started blogging about a year ago I made the un-bold decision that I would keep by blog and the associate twitter account anonymous. It wasn’t a real attempt at anonymity and in fact has become a bit of a joke. The identity of @LastCardiology is one of the worst kept secrets amongst my peers!

That being said, the decision not to link my name to the blog did have some basis.

Firstly, I was at the time responsible for convening a large medical scientific meeting – probably the largest in the country in terms of attendance and budget. The meeting, its brand and its outcome – whilst a matter of great interest to me – really belong to the learned society of which I am a member. Consequently, whilst wanting to help promote the merits of the meeting I had no desire to use that as a cheap source of publicity for my own online activity and even less desire to see something that I might write have a negative impact on the outcome of the meeting.

Secondly, I was at the time somewhat taken by the multitude of blogposts on the risks of social media to the practice medical professionals and being new to the game, it was not my desire to run the gauntlet of this potentially perilous activity.

So almost a year on, with the meeting successfully out of the way and a considerably better feel for the risks and benefits of ‘the social media’ I was just about to lower my guard and formally blow the (laughably transparent) veil of anonymity away from my blog.

And then this…

‘Preliminary Consultation Paper on Social Media Policy’ from the Australian Health Practitioner Regulation Authority (AHPRA).

Above all, as a researcher as well as a clinician, I had begun to feel that the the social media had a compelling role in the future dissemination, promotion and integration of research activity. And there’s the rub. If as a clinician/researcher I am ‘out there’ promoting the merits of the clinical research of our group, cross blogging positive editorial comment, extolling the virtue of translating the findings of our work into daily clinical practice – will I fall foul of the law as interpreted by AHPRA?

After all…

‘The definition of advertising under the Advertising Guidelines is broad…’

and…

A person advertising a regulated health service may contravene the National Law even if they are not themselves a registered health practitioner. As a result, a person may be found to have ‘advertised’ a health service even though they did not intend to advertise or promote their health service.’

Above all,

‘Testimonials, or comments that may amount to testimonials, made on social media sites by patients or other people may contravene the National Law and expose the registered health practitioner and/or the holder of the social networking account to liability.’

To me, the document appears uniformly negative, short-sighted, misguided and even somewhat paranoid. The sort of thing that one might have read in the tabloid press concerning the perils of the ‘information super highway’… about 15 years ago.

I’d be most interested others comments and advice on this matter either here or through my blog at https://thelastgeneralcardiologist.wordpress.com but please be careful not to saying anything positive about me!

Thanks.

@LastCardiology

For additional commentary see

http://blogs.crikey.com.au/croakey/?p=8923 and http://blogs.crikey.com.au/croakey/?p=8939

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