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Social networking and health

In a letter published recently in the Lancet, Helen Atherton and I argue for a more pragmatic  approach to the use of social networking in healthcare. For example, we should be using current evidence on how social  networking might be used to improve communication with patients. This could involve considering the use of social networking in terms of wider clinical behaviour. Concerns about the eff ect of new  technology on the doctor–patient  relationship were probably being  expressed when telephones were first  introduced more than 100 years ago. Rather than viewing new technology as a threat, we should use the opportunities it offers to improve the efficiency and effectiveness of health systems and to improve people’s knowledge of their health and illnesses.

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