The #DukeEBM sort-of almost experiment

March 16, 2014

On Friday, March 7 I ran something of an experiment in crowdsourcing information via social media.  At that time I was attending an evidence-based medicine (EBM) conference at Duke University, and during Friday’s closing session I was asked if I would discuss how we can use Twitter as a way to share and discuss EBM resources and information.

Two of the examples I gave were pretty straightforward.  The first example was showing that Twitter can reach broad audiences and share information outwards towards those audiences.  The second example was a discussion of TweetChats, including the #MedEd tweet chat and the BMJ Evidence-Based Nursing Twitter journal club.

The third example was a sort-of almost experiment.  Just about 12:30 pm, I posted this post on this blog.  At 1 pm I posted these tweets:

Within a few minutes, I began to receive responses to these posts.  These responses included:







Within these responses were actionable, easy-to-use, up-to-date evidence-based recommendations for care.  This was not truly an experiment: @btuttle knew that I was going to run this test, but did not know the precise time or content of the request, and I did mention the #DukeEBM tag during the #MedEd chat: folks were aware that this test was going to happen, but did not know the specifics.

Overall, I think we proved the point: the Twitter community can and will respond effectively when we ask for help.  I think we also showed that these responses can help advance the cause of evidence-based medicine and improve healthcare for all our patients.

Can social media help crowdsource evidence-based medicine?

March 6, 2014

I am going to use this blog post for an experiment.  I am currently attending an evidence-based medicine (EBM) conference at Duke University.  This conference is excellent, and I heartily recommend it for anyone interested in better understanding EBM and in being a more effective teacher of EBM.  (This is not a paid ad–they don’t know I’ve written this; it really just is a great conference!)

That, however, is something of an aside.

I am writing this blog post as part of an experiment I hope to run during tomorrow’s closing session.  We will be discussing new and interesting ways to work with EBM, and will be introducing participants to new EBM ideas.

The experiment, then, will be for me to tweet out a request for help and see how quickly and how well Twitter can respond.  I will share the results with those attending the conference.

If you respond, please use the following hashtag — #DukeEBM — and use S1 or S2 according to which scenario you are responding.

S1: You are a family physician working in a small rural emergency room.  An 18 year-old male patient presents in status asthmaticus.  He is tachypneic, and does not respond to 3 combined albuterol/ipratropium nebulizer treatments or to a dose of IV corticosteroids.  He is getting worse, and you do not know what other treatment options are available.  You remember hearing that magnesium might help asthma, but you do not know if it will help.  You do not have a medical librarian handy, and so you turn to Twitter for help: “Can anyone tell me if magnesium has good evidence recommending its use in patients with severe asthma?” #DukeEBM

S2: You just returned from a crackerjack EBM conference at a major research and medical university.  Your sponsoring institution is very excited to hear about what new and wonderful information and insights you have brought back to share.  As you are finishing morning clinic 30 minutes before the weekly noon conference, you get a call reporting that the planned speaker has cancelled and you are needed to step in!  The schedulers feel you will cover nicely, since thanks to the EBM conference you undoubtedly can discuss the Newest and Best evidence on anything…so why not COPD?  You panic, and with 3 patients left to see you have no time to search for anything!  In a moment of desperate hope, you tweet “Re: best evidence-based treatments for COPD–can anyone lead me to best evidence-based guidelines?” #DukeEBM

We shall see what happens…

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