How Social Media Is Transforming Medical Care In The Developing World
As a physiatrist in a pediatric burn unit in Santiago, Dominican Republic, Dr. Carolina Camilo was frustrated. While she was trained in treating damage to nerves and muscles, and the other staffers in her office were qualified to perform surgery and give anesthesia, there was no one who knew how to prevent her young patients from scarring and losing the use of their burned limbs.
"I did not know how to use splints or face masks or special bandages," Dr. Camilo says, mentioning just a few of what she terms the "creative" ways of intervening with burn patients to ensure their full rehabilitation.
Thanks to Facebook, and global health care training nonprofit Physicians for Peace (PFP), Dr. Camilo was able to get the necessary information to build her skills and help the children in her community who otherwise would not have had access to such care.
"We’re starting a movement
to democratize medical knowledge
for the benefit of patients
all over the world,"
Dr. Arora says.
Dr. Camilo has been part of a regional burn care training initiative that brought some of PFP’s International Medical Experts from the U.S. and Canada together with 35 health care providers from around Central America to share crucial medical information. But it was actually the Facebook group created afterward by PFP program director Leslie Toledo that helped her determine the best plan of action, and how exactly to execute that plan.
Social media and technology are playing a greater role than ever in the information sharing necessary to build health care capacity globally. While PFP is just dipping its toe in the water, creating groups on social media like Skype or Facebook or Google Hangouts, and facilitating online education courses where training isn’t available, new CEO Lisa Arfaa has made technology a central component of the organization’s strategic plan.