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The Growing Power of Social Media In Scientific Scrutiny and Public Policy: Two Examples

Posted Jun 03 2013 7:00pm
Tomorrow's docs checking out
the medical literature
Regular readers of the Disease Management Care Blog are well aware of its enthusiasm for the emerging role of the internet and social media in advancing scientific knowledge and promoting public policy. 

Here are two great examples
In this blog post , public health professor Michael Siegel takes the company Alere to task for allegedly making inflated claims on its web site about the success of its tobacco cessation program.  The sleuthful Dr. Siegel did a literature search to find out more about the science underlying its claim, and found that persons lost to follow-up were assumed to have quit.  The original Alere publication  refers to a curious "responder analysis," but also documents a far more modest "intention to treat analysis" with a one-month quit rate of 21%.  That lower number - and the fact that quit rates are typically reported over 6 months, not one month - was excluded from Alere's marketing.

The Disease Management Care Blog has previously pointed out the hazards from Boards of Directors letting their company's management put dubious or vulnerable research into the public domain. Dr. Siegel is a perfect case in point of the power of an interested and skeptical scientist who can use the internet's public square to attack research "spin" and batter a company's reputation. This kind of reputational threat needs to be "top of mind" when population health and care management company Boards are thinking about their enterprise risk management challenges .

And as further testimony to the growing potency of bloggery, check out this posting on The Health Care Blog on "seven policy recommendations" that were jointly co-authored by heavyweights from the Urban Institute, Johns Hopkins and Yale.  Not only are the recommendations themselves worth consideration, they were "open-sourced" on a blog - not a journal - with a level of speed, timeliness and visibility that traditional print media can simply no longer match.
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