Thursday, July 9, 2009
Twitter as a drug adverse effect reporting system?
If enough healthcare professionals end up using Twitter, could it become a drug adverse effect reporting system? Most healthcare professionals use e-mail. Most browse the web. Most have mobile phones or smartphones. What's the most effective way to reach them about a drug recall, a drug alert, or some other type of public health message?
In my opinion, such campaigns must use a multi-modal approach. Use Twitter, e-mail, SMS, calls, and even letters. However, we must also keep in mind that the most effective method is to use something that leverages a viral-type of spreading mechanism.
If you've never used Twitter, you may not know how people can "spread" your Tweet by re-tweeting (RT) to others. Twitter is instant. People are Tweeting on their laptop, smartphone, or even on a standard mobile phone. When your message is popular and it gets retweeted, it can potentially spread like a virus.
So, that's probably why the FDA, CDC, and several other public health organizations are leveraging the power of Twitter. @CDCemergency (Verified Account) already has almost 500,000 followers. @CDCflu has almost 10,000 followers. CNN's Sanjay Gupta (@SanjayGuptaCNN) currently has almost 400,000 followers. My suggestion to them is to follow more of their followers. This way, the Twitter follow limit won't hinder people from following them.