Twitter helps Japanese patients after the earthquake

Social media has been key in helping Japanese citizens in the aftermath of the earthquake,  doctors have said.

In an open letter to the Lancet, the Japanese doctors praised social networking sites such as Twitter, claiming that they have been vital in notifying patients where to get much needed medication in the aftermath of the crisis.

When the earthquake occurred telephone lines and mobile masts were wiped out. However, the internet remained. This meant that thousands of people turned to social networking sites to communicate with loved ones, and it seems they’ve carried on relying upon it ever since.

The doctors explained that when the crisis was is its primary stages, they were concerned about their patients, in particular those who relied on “continuous-infusion prostacyclin for pulmonary hypertension.” The problem here was that they found it hard to form a supply chain for such drugs in the earliest stages of the disaster.

However they soon discovered that social networking could help with this problem and turned to email, Skype and Twitter as a result.

The latter, they explained had been an “excellent system for disseminating information to other participants via the “re-tweet” facility.” Through this, they said they had been able to notify displaced patients via Twitter on where to acquire medications and spread the word quickly amongst their patient networks.

As a result many of their patients could attend to their essential treatments and receive their much needed drugs.

However, the medical bods pointed out that they also needed human assistance when it came to supplying these drugs and writing the initial messages, leading them to deduce that “social networking services, run concurrently with physical support, were significant in triumphing over many difficulties in the recent catastrophe.”