Friday, January 25, 2013

Supertwision! Join a new experiment in social media and medical education

This week Dr Michael Bonning and I started working together in our Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Service as supervisor and GP registrar. Over the next 6 months we will work closely together to learn about working as a GP, particularly in an Aboriginal Health setting. I say we, because, though technically I am the supervisor and Michael is the learner, I will learn just as much as he will. Most GPs I know involved in teaching would say the same.

Over the next 6 months, we will cover the medical conditions often seen in general practice, we will learn safe approaches to any and all combinations of symptoms that people might have. We will learn about the crucial nature of communication and interaction the consultation and how to do this effectively. We will learn about listening and giving voice to people who often aren't heard in a complex medical system.

However, that's just my perspective. And given that both I and Michael are interested in the use of social media in medicine and medical education, this is a wonderful opportunity for an experiment. Over the next 6 months we will ask questions, link to documents and resources and invite discussion about being a better GP, particularly in the context of an Aboriginal community, and most likely other communities traditionally underserved. We would invite anyone interested in  the subjects discussed to join in and contribute. We only have 2 perspectives, and you will have others. You'll be aware of guidance and discussion we've not come across, perspectives new to us. I would imagine that GPs, patients, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, communities and organisations, educationalists, other medical specialists, other professionas allied to medicine would all have something to contribute to our discussion.

The other purpose is to lift the lid on what doctors do, especially GPs. Is it just about diagnosing? How do we think about doing the work better? Where do we go to learn new things? What disciplines are relevant? I hope that seeing GP apprenticeship happen in real time will enable people to see the complexity of what their doctors are doing, and enable them to have more productive conversations with their doctor.

It's worth pointing out what Supertwision won't be doing. We won't be idientifying any patients we see, or discussing the service we work in in any more than generalities. We won't be providing any medical advice on Twitter or on this blog. And do not think for one moment that what you see on Twitter or on the blog is all the teaching that is occurring. We are meeting regularly in practice and talking by phone and e-mail and you won't be party to any of that conversation. We will be involving our practice nurses, Aboriginal Health Workers other professionals and, yes, patients. To mobilise an old metaphor, what you see will be the tip of the iceberg.

So. Here we go. I hope this is a go at seeing a real innovative use of social media in health care, particularly in medical education. It may all go horribly wrong, but at the moment I'm optimistic and think we have something that many will find very interesting. You can join the conversation by following myself (@timsenior) and Michael (@michaelbonning) on Twitter and following the #supertwision hashtag. We'll be posting more long-form thinking on this blog, and would love to hear your comments and suggestions.