Doctors Turn to Social Media to Develop Covid-19 Treatments in Real Time

Michael Smith and Michelle Fay Cortez at Bloomberg: “There is a classic process for treating respiratory problems: First, give the patient an oxygen mask, or slide a small tube into the nose to provide an extra jolt of oxygen. If that’s not enough, use a “Bi-Pap” machine, which pushes air into the lungs more forcefully. If that fails, move to a ventilator, which takes over the patient’s breathing.

But these procedures tend to fail With Covid-19 patients. Physicians found that by the time they reached that last step, it was often too late; the patient was already dying.

In past pandemics like the 2003 global SARS outbreak, doctors sought answers to such mysteries from colleagues in hospital lounges or maybe penned articles for medical journals. It could take weeks or months for news of a breakthrough to reach the broader community.

For Covid-19, a kind of medical hive mind is on the case. By the tens of thousands, doctors are joining specialized social media groups to develop answers in real time. One of them, a Facebook group called the PMG COVID19 Subgroup, has 30,000 members worldwide….

Doctors are trying to fill an information void online. Sabry, an emergency-room doctor in two hospitals outside Los Angeles, found that the 70,000-strong, Physician Moms Group she started five years ago on Facebook was so overwhelmed by coronavirus threads that she created the Covid-19 offshoot. So many doctors tried to join the new subgroup that Facebook’s click-to-join code broke. Some 10,000 doctors waited in line as the social media company’s engineers devised a fix.

She’s not alone. The topic also consumed two Facebook groups started by Dr. Nisha Mehta, a 38-year-old radiologist from Charlotte, North Carolina. The 54,000-member Physician Side Gigs, intended for business discussions, and an 11,000-person group called Physician Community for more general topics, are also all coronavirus, all the time, with thousands waiting to join…(More)”.