Social media enables the public sharing of information. With the recent emphasis on transparency and the open sharing of information between doctors and patients, the intersection of social media and healthcare is of particular interest. Twitter is currently the most popular form of social media used for healthcare communication; here, we examine the use of Twitter in medicine and specifically explore in what capacity using Twitter to share information on treatments and research has the potential to improve care. The sharing of information on Twitter can create a communicative and collaborative atmosphere for patients, physicians, and researchers and even improve quality of care. However, risks involved with using Twitter for healthcare discourse include high rates of misinformation, difficulties in verifying the credibility of sources, overwhelmingly high volumes of information available on Twitter, concerns about professionalism, and the opportunity cost of using physician time. Ultimately, the use of Twitter in healthcare can allow patients, healthcare professionals, and researchers to be more informed, but specific guidelines for appropriate use are necessary.
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