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Time Flies: Looking Back at a Year of Using Social Media

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Younes MD Aug 2010A year ago this month I launched this medical Facebook page.

It feels like yesterday.

This idea came four months after I started to use Twitter (http://twitter.com/dranasyounes) to share important information on medicine and cancer. Initially, the page allowed followers to be "friends." After consultation with colleagues, MD Anderson Communications Office staff and some of my followers, the site was changed to allow "fans" to follow me rather than friends. This allowed my followers, some of whom are patients of mine, to keep their privacy while giving them the opportunity to read and comment on my posts.

Since then, I have posted 633 links to important medical articles published in scientific and lay media outlets, an average of two posts every day. To date, this page has 617 followers, 81% of whom are women, and 51% are younger than age 45. Four hundred and eighty-nine of my followers are from the United States and 145 live in Houston.

Likewise, to date I have 1,511 followers on Twitter, and I tweet an average of seven links each day, mainly covering cancer (especially lymphoma) and other medical topics.

Thanks to support from the MD Anderson Communications Office, I have blogged 12 times here in Cancerwise, including blogging from the past two American Society of Clinical Oncology meetings In between, four short videos (http://bit.ly/cwsQZz, http://bit.ly/b51d8U, http://bit.ly/9Bl71b, http://bit.ly/bVFbqY) and two iTunes webcasts were also posted to promote clinical trials on lymphoma.

As I stated in previous blogs, this effort not only provides credible educational sources of information to the general public, but also has been a successful tool to promote participation in innovative clinical trials at our center. With time, I communicated with patients and their families, doctors, scientists and curious minds, most of whom I have never met in person.

Making myself available through social media and posting my e-mail address on my Facebook page allowed many people around the world to ask questions. In many cases, this resulted in referrals of patients who are interested in participating in clinical trials. Every week I get e-mails from patients and families around the world asking for help. This is a lot of work for me, but I consider it a good public service.

My goal is to reach out to every patient with lymphoma. Over the past year, 617 individuals followed my Facebook page and, of course, not all of them are lymphoma patients. This year, it is expected that 74,000 new patients will be diagnosed with lymphoma (both Hodgkin and non-Hodgkin) in the United States. That means I will have to reach out to 73,400 more individuals!

If you don't know me, I would like to assure you that I think this goal is achievable. I just have to keep working on it. But I would also like you to help me achieve this goal.


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