#HealthXPH: The Doctor Will Track You Now

As an internist and endocrinologist, I often advise my patients at the clinic to lead more active lifestyles. And every time I ask a patient if she exercises, the most common answer is, “I walk.” I often get asked how long should I walk? How brisk is brisk? Do I really need to do ten thousand steps? I realized I didn’t actually “know” what ten thousand steps meant. I once wore a pedometer and walked around the UP academic oval to find out.  Ten thousand steps meant circling the oval FOUR times!


Last year, I began wearing a Fitbit to track my daily steps and for a while I also logged my calories on MyFitnessPal. I wanted to try it out first before recommending it to others. On most days, I walk a measly 5,000 steps or less. One day I was out shopping though and managed to log around 15,000 steps! As I tracked my food intake, I began to appreciate that what I thought were small portions I was having here and there translated to calories I didn’t need. I tried logging my water intake and realized I wasn’t drinking enough. Now I knew, but what next? In the Wall Street Journal, Dwoskin & Walker ask – “Can Data From Your Fitbit Transform Medicine?”

And then I wondered if money were not an obstacle, would patients be willing to wear a tracking device like a pedometer if I asked them to do so? More importantly, would I be willing to look over these tracking data during a consult? Recently, concerns have been raised about privacy as data from activity or sleep trackers often sync to online platforms. In the Washington Post, Andrea Peterson writes “Privacy advocates warn of ‘nightmare’ scenario as tech giants consider fitness tracking.

This Saturday, 9 Aug 9 pm Manila time let’s talk about fitness tracking at #HealthXPH!

T1 If you could, would you wear a fitness tracker? Why or why not?

T2 Are you willing to share data from your fitness tracker with your healthcare provider? Why or why not?

T3 As a healthcare provider, are you willing to go over fitness tracker data with your patients?






FDA Draft Guidance for Industry: Internet/Social Media Platforms with Character Space Limitations

This Saturday July 12 (9 pm PHT), let’s talk about the FDA’s Draft Guidance for Industry: Internet/Social Media Platforms with Character Space Limitations – Presenting Risk and Benefit Information for Prescription Drugs and Medical Devices at #HealthXPH.

The guidance applies to Twitter and sponsored links on search engines which have character space limitations. It’s an 18-page PDF! Here are the salient parts quoted from the document.

1. Benefit information should be accurate and non-misleading and reveal material facts within each individual character-space-limited communication (e.g. each individual message or tweet).

2. Benefit information should be accompanied by risk information within each individual character-space-limited communication.

3. The content of risk information presented within each individual character-space-limited communication, should, at a minimum, include the most serious risks associated with the product.

4. A mechanism, such as a hyperlink, should also be provided within each individual character-space-limited communication to allow direct access to a more complete discussion of risk information about the product.

5. The prominence of risk information should be comparable to the benefit information within each individual character-space-limited communication, taking into consideration any formatting capabilities available on the specific Internet/social media platform.


I think that’s as specific as it can get. It definitely requires creative tweeting to fit all that required information in 140 characters. @PharmaGuy suggested including a picture in the tweet  as a way of complying with the recommendations. Interestingly, tweets with pictures was not discussed in the FDA draft guidance.

Now if you think that these recommendations are difficult to put into practice, here’s what the FDA says -

If a firm concludes that adequate benefit and risk information, as well as other required information, cannot all be communicated within the same character-space-limited communication, then the firm should reconsider using that platform for the intended promotional message.


So here are the topics to be discussed at the #HealthXPH tweet chat:

  • T1. Is Twitter with its character limitation, an appropriate platform to advertise prescription drugs or medical devices?
  • T2. Has the FDA covered everything in its draft guidance for promotional tweets on drugs/medical devices? Any suggestions?
  • T3 Have you seen promotional tweets for drugs/medical devices not compliant with the FDA guidance? If ever, would you report it?


I don’t think there’s an equivalent guidance yet from the Philippine FDA. I am excited to learn what others think in the tweet chat.




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