A 2.0 Interview with Berci Mesko, regional ambassador to Hungary for Health 2.0 Europe

Dr Bertalan Mesko, or Berci to his friends, is a recently-graduated Hungarian medical doctor, with whom I had the pleasure of blogging about geriatrics at IAGG 2009. Berci was then just beginning his PhD in clinical genomics. He’s also found the time to create Webicina, a web 2.0 guidance service for patients and medical professionals,  continue to be an award-winning blogger, Scienceroll.com, become an educator for a Medicine and Web 2.0 university credit course and participate in a recent seminar with me. Enjoy the interview below with our Regional Ambassador extraordinaire to and from Hungary 😉 for Health 2.0 Europe coming up in Paris on April 6–7, 2010.

Denise Silber:  How did you get interested in 2.0 tools for physicians?

Berci Mesko: Ves Dimov, MD from Clinical Cases and Images sent me his slideshow in 2006 and the idea of facilitating the workflow of physicians through social media amazed me. On http://Scienceroll.com I started to write about interesting applications and tools doctors and patients can use day by day either in a medical practice or in health management. Later my blog won some blog awards and had plenty of new readers so I thought I should keep on working and informing the public about the potential role of web 2.0 in the future of medicine and healthcare. Through my blog, I’ve received many invitations to speak about these issues at international conferences. All the things I’ve ever done and experienced online resulted in a Health 2.0 site called http://Webicina.com.

DS: As you do your doctorate in genetics, which 2.0 tools are the most helpful for your studies and research?

BM: The amount of genetics-related information is growing exponentially every day, and the most important tools I use are search engines. I like the 2.0 possibilities Pubmed.com provides such as the “Save search” function or the RSS feeds we can create based on search queries. I read a lot of genetics blogs (DNA Network). I’m active in research communities (especially on ResearchGATE.net), use Google Reader for keeping myself up-to-date in genomics. I attend conferences in the virtual realm of Second Life organized by Nature Publishing Group, and whenever I have a research-related question I can turn to the scientific communities on Twitter and Friendfeed. I write manuscripts on Google Docs, create slideshows with Prezi.com and use Skype and Gotomeeting.com for online meetings.

DS:  What would you be using in 2.0 tools, if you were seeing patients? (besides Webicina ? 😉

BM: Time management is crucial in the lives of doctors; so I’m sure I would primarily use 2.0 tools that help me ease the workflow. Examples include Google Docs for keeping track of patients (like the “Check-in Tracker”); a private Friendfeed group or Google Wave for communicating with the staff and I would certainly have a blog, a Twitter account and a Facebook page for my practice. The blog is the official channel with detailed information and a searchable archive; the Twitter page is the fastest communication channel for patient-doctor interaction (not in public); the Facebook page would be used to build the online image of the practice, to get patients closer to my practice and let them talk about it with others. Obviously I would use Webicina.com for accessing the best blogs, community sites, podcasts, mobile applications and search engines, among others that focus on my medical specialty. I would use PeRSSonalized Medicine for keeping myself up-to-date easily.

DS: What would you say to Hungarians and/or about Hungary re Web 2.0 for health and medicine as our Ambassador to Hungary?

BM: The healthcare system is really special in Hungary, and doctors are more overwhelmed than in any other country I have ever been to. Also the number of e-patients is not as great as it is in Western regions. So what I would tell doctors is that they should be more open to the opportunities social media can provide and in this new online world instead of ROI (return on investment) we must talk about ROC (return on connection). If you decide not to take part in social media adoption, at some point, I believe it will leave you behind, because patients will enter the web 2.0 world earlier than their own doctors. And when a patient knows more about a specific new treatment than the doctors just because he/she is totally up-to-date by using online tools, doctors will realize they have to make changes. Of course, not all doctors should become web-savvy, but someone will have to meet the expectations of e-patients.

DS:  I know you’re excited to be coming to Health 2.0 Europe in Paris. Why?

BM: The reason is simple. Health 2.0 is the biggest conference focusing on the important issue of social media adoption in healthcare, it gathers the best speakers and interesting vendors year by year and such a great event must come to Europe and give a chance to European innovators as well. Also I will have a chance to present Webicina.com among fantastic sites such as Orphanet or Health on the Net Foundation. I’m really excited about this and I can’t wait to hear what people have to say about Webicina and other health 2.0 sites.

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