Social Network Analysis and Mapping in the Medical Field

Once upon a time, human interaction was bounded by space. We met only face-to-face in person. Communication soon advanced through technology, and social networking tools like YouTube, Facebook, and Twitter have moved into the medical world. The Mayo Clinic began podcasting in 2005. It has since added a Facebook page, blogs, and its very own YouTube channel. In 2009 the Henry Ford Hospital actually used Twitter to provide in-the-moment updates of a surgery and directed viewers to YouTube footage of the procedure. Social networking is an extremely useful tool to instantly connect billions of users. Real influence in medical communities exists within relationships and networks, many of which are actually informal or hidden. Social network analysis itself provides the ability to engage with many relevant people through the few prominent figures in their respective communities.

Social network analysis is the mapping and measuring of relationships and flows between people, organizations, computers or other knowledge-processing entities. Social Network Analysis (SNA) is a method for visualizing our people and connection power, leading us to identify how we can best interact to share knowledge. Mapping and social network analysis synthesizes massive quantities of data. This can be extremely useful in medical studies because of the organization of data aggregation. Relevant sources and articles on the specific topic are collected into a database, including (but not limited to) clinical trials, journals, and the like. A visual map of the active relationships between medical community leaders can be created for us to facilitate a better understanding of who knows who and who might know what. I see a lot of potential in SNA in the medical field and want to take full advantage of it in the future.


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