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An Overview of Social Media in the Practice of Infectious Diseases

Oehler, Richard L. MD

Infectious Diseases in Clinical Practice: November 2012 - Volume 20 - Issue 6 - p 370–375
doi: 10.1097/IPC.0b013e3182639f82
Review Articles

The explosion in the use of social media resources across society has extended to medicine, and perhaps nowhere is it more prevalent than in the field of infectious diseases. Physicians are using blogs to write about infectious diseases, new therapies, and their experiences with them. “Infoepidemiology” promises to quickly uncover future outbreaks without the need to cross oceans or to don a respirator. Infectious disease clinicians are sharing ideas, promoting organizational and philanthropic awareness, and professionally interacting on social networks such as Facebook. YouTube and other media sharing sites have become new resources for remote medical learning and educational collaboration. At the same time, personal and professional users of social media must confront challenging issues such as professionalism, medical confidentiality, peer review, and privacy concerns.

From the Infectious Diseases Section, James A Haley Veterans Hospital and Division of Infectious Diseases and Internal Medicine, University of South Florida College of Medicine, Tampa, FL.

Correspondence to: Richard L. Oehler, MD, Mailstop 111J, James A Haley Veterans Hospital, 13000 Bruce B Downs Blvd, Tampa, FL 33612. E-mail:

Key points: Infectious disease clinicians who use social media resources may reap substantial benefits in the areas of communication, epidemiologic surveillance, education, and patient care while at the same time facing new challenges with regard to professionalism, medical confidentiality, and privacy.

The author has no funding or conflicts of interest to disclose.

© 2012 Lippincott Williams & Wilkins, Inc.