By Dr. Brian McDonough

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) – There is a very interesting new report in the New England Journal of Medicine which talks about social media being used to help in health care during the most critical times one can think of – during man made and natural disasters.

The best example is in the 2011 Egyptian uprising where despite blocked internet service, new social media such as “speak-to-tweet”, which allows brief twitter messages to be sent through a voice connection, were being used to improve communication about health and safety within the first few days of the 2011 Egyptian uprising.

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Another dramatic example is that after Haiti’s 2010 earthquake, Ushahidi, an open-source web platform linked health care providers requiring supplies to those who had them, and victims trapped under the rubble used Facebook to reach out for help. Finally, during the 2009 influenza pandemic, within minutes after the Alexandria, Virginia Health Department tweeted and texted about where vaccine against h1n1 influenza was available. What this tells us is that we can take advantage of the dramatic new advances in ways we never thought possible. The result could be hundreds if not thousands of lives saved.

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Reported by Dr. Brian McDonough, KYW Newsradio

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