China docs share information on microblogs

China docs share information on microblogs
Tuesday, Jan 17, 2012
China Daily/Asia News Network
By Shan Juan, Cheng Yingqi

BEIJING - An expectant mother was due to deliver soon at the hospital, and her doctor found out that she was still a virgin, reads a post micro-blogged by her doctor.

Doctor Zhang Rongya at the renowned Peking Union Medical College Hospital posted the case on Jan 6 at Sina Weibo, one of China's most popular micro-blogging websites.

Zhang noted in the post that coitus interruptus (withdrawal) is not reliable in preventing pregnancy.

The entry received a lot of attention and has been forwarded by online readers nearly 15,000 times.

Among the more than 3,400 comments left by viewers, there were exclamations - and also accusations against Zhang who has about 70,000 followers, saying that the post was a potential breach of patient privacy.

With many useful tips like how to scientifically feed a baby and how to cope with postpartum depression, her micro-blogging site is among the most popular maintained by medical workers.

Zhang is among hundreds of Chinese medical workers who have taken up micro-blogging on the mainland.

There is no official count of the number of physicians using the Sina micro blog site, but doctors treating chronic diseases and cancer are among the most popular at the site, said Li Na, an editor in the health news department of Sina, which is in charge of the routine maintenance and management of health-related micro blogs.

"The popularity of a physician on a micro blog is largely decided by his or her communication skills, and very active users are usually relatively young, like doctor Zhang," she said.

Li said that among all their medical worker users, 50 per cent had registered on their own while others were invited by the website.

Gu Zhongyi, a dietitian at the Beijing Friendship Hospital who has been using the Sina micro blog for more than a year, told China Daily that he was happy having more than 270,000 followers.

"Micro-blogging has helped substantially improve the doctor-patient relationship through enhanced mutual understanding and in my case, it also served as a useful tool helping to schedule patients' visits," he said.

Zeng Xiaopeng, deputy director of the Beijing Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, who micro-blogs at Sohu, another major micro-blogging service provider on the mainland, said: "I constantly write micro-blog posts to spread knowledge such as ways to keep bugs out of the house. My fans can read the blog and leave their questions, which I can answer later."

He has now nearly 22,600 fans on his Sohu micro blog.

"The micro blog facilitates more interactive communication between me and the public, which is quite different from health seminars only attended by professionals," he said.

At the Sohu micro blog, the number of registered doctors exceeds 200, coming from various disciplines from pediatrics to stomatology.

"The number has kept rising," said Yu Haitao, an employee at the Sohu micro blog.

"Based on our rough calculations, most of our doctor users are about 50 years old and have extensive experience in health promotion and education," he said.

"They are extremely cautious not to reveal any private information about their patients and so far we have not received any complaints concerning the doctors' blogging," he added.

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