Berci Meskó is a Hungarian medical student, and a leading innovator when it comes to the web 2.0 and using new healthcare technologies. His medical blog is one of the most popular on the internet from a medical student. Here he is interviewed by one of the Medical Educator team.
Hi Berci, you’re a busy man, so thanks for doing the interview. We made your acquaintance socially on Twitter, and over the following few months have been quite amazed about the impact of your blogs Scienceroll and Webicinia. It’s fair to say they have received cult status in the healthcare community, and on Twitter.
Can you tell us a bit about yourself, your journey through medical training and how you got interested in the web?
James, thank you for the great opportunity! I’m a sixth year medical student in Hungary which means I will graduate this August. Then I plan to start PhD training in personalized genetics. So I should say health 2.0 is only my hobby, but it’s actually much more than that. From morning to the afternoon, I do a clinical rotation as this is what our 6th year is about. In the afternoon, I do research in a local prestigious lab and I live the rest of my life at night!
I started Scienceroll.com in November, 2006. It will reach the one million page-view milestone soon and has won 3 blog awards. Then I launched a Hungarian medical blog, and in October 2008 I founded Webicina.com, the first medical web guidance system. I believe e-patients and doctors need guidance online as we’re not really ready for the medicine 2.0 world. I try to help doctors by developing the easiest medical information tracking tool for them for free (PeRSSonalized Medicine), and I try to help patients with also free web 2.0 guidance packages focusing on medical conditions.The first one will focus on diabetes and will be published in a week.
Tell us a bit about Scienceroll, what it is and how you got it started.
I started Scienceroll because I wanted to share and comment interesting medical and genetics-related news. Later it became a channel for my thoughts and projects. I cover two major topics there: personalized genetics and ‘medicine’ or ‘health 2.0‘. I was lucky to get numerous opportunities through my blog: to give a slide-show at Yale, School of Medicine, the Medicine Meets Virtual Reality conference, the Medicine 2.0 Congress at the WHO.
You’re still a medical student. Does any of this get in the way of your studies, or medical exams?
Never! Even if my blog means a lot to me, my medical studies stand in the first position. Anyway, when I have to prepare for exams, it’s good to have a blog as I can have a rest while writing the posts after hours of hard work with my books. And I can ask medical questions in the Twitter community, health ‘tweople’ always help me. So you can find people around the world, medical students, who have the same problems and who can help you in your studies.
We understand most of your readers are in the USA, predominantly California, which is leading web development. Have you received any recognition from your own University about what you do?
I don’t think any of my professors would know what I’m working on. And that’s primarily a very good thing. I don’t want my online job/life to be an advantage or disadvantage in exams.
But after months of hard work and preparation, I could launch the first credit course focusing on medicine 2.0 at my university and I’m about to relaunch the course in English next week. So that is a great opportunity and I hope we can persuade professors to include it in the official medical curriculum so it could be the first medical university to cover such topics officially.
Would you recommend other medical students to get involved with blogs, and the web 2.0 as it stands?
Of course, and I tried to persuade students attending my course to start blogging as it can help them build an online reputation and can lead to unbelievable opportunities. I’m not saying all students should have a blog, but those who would like to build a successful online presence, a blog can be a perfect channel.
If students want to attend virtual courses, Second Life is ready for them. If they want to work together online, they can use Google Docs or a public wiki. If they need information, Wikipedia is a great first resource (but should never be the one you end your research with). There are many ways students can use the tools and services of web 2.0.
We were pleased to be in contact with you, I guess you must have made some other useful acquaintances through the web. I’ve enjoyed reading your interviews with other doctors. Can you tell us about a memorable interview?
I think the best interview you can do is with the doctor you consider your mentor. So I loved talking with Ves Dimov at Clinical Cases and Images because he was the one who got me into this health 2.0 field. He’s been very helpful and nice since even before I wrote my first post. And it felt really good to talk with Jay Parkinson, Steve Murphy or Dietrich Stephan.
Thanks Berci, good to talk to you and its an impressive, and inspiring story. We look forward to hearing great things about you in the future.