photo by Rajiv Menghrajani

Last August 16, 2017, Dr. Iris Thiele Isip-Tan, an endocrinologist, the chief of UPCM Medical Informatics Unit and the Director of UP Manila-Interactive Learning Center, led a forum on Social Media and Health at the St. Luke’s College of Medicine – Angelo King Auditorium. The topics delved into the prevalence of patients using social media for self-diagnosis, contact between doctors and patients, and the advantages, liabilities, and management of using social media as health care professionals.

Dr. Isip-Tan showed the prevalence of social-media related health consultations and its accompanying local data which displayed the importance, challenges and effects of tying social media with health. Her experience as the manager of her own social media pages (eg. The Endocrine Witch), and current research studies served as the foundation of her talk about encounters doctors on social media can have, and how they can help the community.

A point raised during the said speech was the rising prominence of social media as a platform for people seeking medical help. Dr. Isip-Tan explained that this method enhances information dissemination by medical experts. It can be beneficial both for the doctors and the patients as the former can share health tips that target certain populations.

She emphasized that by having social media, there is now a constant flow of general health care guidelines. In addition, using eye-catching images, witty captions, and simple local or vernacular language can better cater the attention of the community and influence more people to take-up better health practices. However, Dr. Isip-Tan still believes that consulting one’s physician is the best way to allow a more thorough discussion between patients and the doctors.

She also discussed that professionalism must still be exemplified, even in social media, as this is a proper conduct of medical practitioners.  Lastly, she gave some guidelines on how to deal with scammers and the like, as the social media is an unencrypted space in which anyone could gain access to anything.

Following Dr. Isip-Tan’s presentation, Dr. Malaya P. Santos, the college secretary, opened the floor for questions from the audience. Raised concerns included the most prevalent form of medical communication in the Philippines, the usefulness of online case sharing among doctors, and issues on ethics regarding patient privacy.

Dr Isip-Tan and Dr Santos pose for a photo.
photo by Stephen Pasol