Moral Obligation and Tweets

Posted on April 24, 2012 I Written By

Priya Ramachandran is a Maryland based freelance writer. In a former life, she wrote software code and managed Sarbanes Oxley related audits for IT departments. She now enjoys writing about healthcare, science and technology.

I must say this headline from Fierce Health IT gave me a great many giggles today: Healthcare social media a ‘moral obligation’. No shred of irony in the article either, which quotes Farris Timimi, M.D., medical director for the Mayo Clinic Center for Social Media, thusly:

“Our patients are there. Our moral obligation is to meet them where they’re at and give them the information they need so they can seek recovery,” Timimi said. “You’ve got to be ready for it. You build it for the patients; not for yourself.

“This is not marketing,” he added. “This is the right thing to do.”

Are you sure it’s not just a way to log in to Facebook while you’re on the clock, Dr. T?

Not to come down too hard on Dr. Timimi, but I can think of plenty of other medical things which are “moral obligations”: saving patient lives, or low cost accessible healthcare for all. Being able to find a condesed tweet about bunions – um, not so much. I mean, healthcare is already quite a messpool to be in without doctors and hospitals flogging themselves over not being social media savvy enough. And not everyone can be a social media rockstar John D Halamka.

I know I’m being wilfully dense tonight. And the esteemed Dr. Timimi probably had stuff like Facebook pages and cancer blogs in mind when he talked about healthcare info via social media. But I scoured Twitter for “medical advice” and “cancer” and found that there’s some accidental giggles to be had:

Tim Brookman ‏ @T_Brookman
Next person that texts me for medical advice is getting told to apply icyhot directly to their genitals

nicole west ‏ @NicNac19
I love when friends come to me & ask medical advice & I actually know the solution… just don’t quote me, lol.

saintseester ‏ @saintseester
will not be giving free medical advice on anonymous social media. You’d be an idiot to take advice like that anyway.

Official Cancer Page ‏ @Cancer69_
#Cancer is big on trust and if you lie to them they will make sure you regret it
(yeah, yeah, I getit.. they’re talking about the sun sign)