Media in Medicine: Bertalan Mesko’s Scienceroll and More Medicine 2.0, an Interview

I am very excited as I type this. I will be deferring the supposed post for today, Media In Medicine: Sprinkle Some Imagination, for later. Alternately in some of the days to come, I will be posting about some interesting proponents of media in medicine. I have written about them here at some point. This time, I will be trying to interview some of them via e. Ah, happy day!

In May of 2007, I wrote a post about Medicine 2.0. It dealt with my own exploration and understanding of the interesting place of medical and health care professionals, medical students, academics, researchers, medical leaders and learners, and patients along the arteries and veins of Web 2.0. I then proceeded with exploring further focusing more on its soul—media (focusing on the gifts of the new media) than its intimidating surname—2.0. However, I do not dislike the geeky appeal of the numeric assignment. It has a been a wonderful ride since—one of very open learning avenues and exchanging thoughts with so many interesting folks behind the writings and blogs. I am delighted to have expressed my humble voice this way about a discipline that is a lifetime endeavor. Though 2.0 is just one amongst its expansive collaterals, I speak and write proudly and with ever more curiosity about this revolutionary means of communicating and sharing medical knowledge.

Please welcome, one of my favorite reads on the medical web, Bertalan Mesko. mesko.jpgHe is a medical student at the University of Debrecen in Hungary. He is one of the active proponents in educating the rest of us about the endless possibilities of Medicine 2.0 among many other interesting things that he shares about in his blog, Scienceroll. Recently, he travelled from Debrecen to Los Angeles, New Haven, and New York and gave a presentation in a conference called Medicine Meets Virtual Reality and another one at Yale University. I am honored to share about this interview here today.

1. How did you get started with your takes on Web 2.0 in Medicine?

In January, 2007, I came across the online presentation of Vesselin Dimov who is a physician in Cleveland. I think he is the first person to write about this subject on his blog in the blogosphere and that presentation opened my mind. I knew these tools, services and websites provided by the realm of web 2.0 could change the way medicine is practised, so I started to write about this special field of medicine and launched a blog carnival under the name of Medicine 2.0 later in 2007.

med320.jpg2. Who coined the term Medicine 2.0? Do you consider yourself one of its pioneers?

I have no idea who used this term for the first time. Anyway, it’s a hard question. I consider myself as a member of the „second generation”, because it wouldn’t be fair to call myself a pioneer. If someone has mentors, he obviously cannot be a pioneer and I do have mentors like Ves Dimov, Attila Csordas, Scott Shreeve and Bob Coffield.

3. You recently presented at the Medicine Meets Virtual Reality Conference, would you care to share that experience from a professional, cultural, and general standpoint?

Wow, it should be quite a long answer. From a professional standpoint, it was good to see physicians and scientists are really open to these new opportunities of web 2.0. They tend to create a new form of medical practises (e.g. Jay Parkinson), they know how much these tools can ease their own job. And that’s why they liked my presentation and the live Second Life simulation. From a cultural standpoint, that is a different world. The system of health care or medical education is totally different from ours. Your medical education is based more on clinical practise. And generally, the main difference, according to my experience, between the USA and our region is that if you have new ideas, you can go further more easily than your competitors.

4. How was the Yale University presentation experience? Can you share with us a sample question raised by your audience there?

I’m humbled to spend some days around Yale and to give a presentation at the School of Medicine of Yale was probably the best thing I’ve ever done. Sometimes everything works. I think I gave my best slideshow ever at Yale. The questions raised by the audience were focused on search engines. A major concern of the residents was that it’s quite hard to find relevant and useful information in Pubmed in seconds. And when they have a patient and have to make a decision fast, they need to have a great tool with which they can get the right information in time because getting tens of thousands of results after making a search for a medical condition cannot be efficient. That’s why we’re currently working on a personalized medical search engine for medical professionals which I will present soon on Scienceroll.

5. What difficult issues (if any) have you encountered in developing your Second Life in terms of sharing medical information?

The medical exercises organized in Second Life by the Ann Myers Medical Center will never be as realistic as real medical education. But educating or learning without geographical borders is just fantastic. I especially enjoyed learning from US physicians and discussing medical cases with Brazilian, German or English medical students. In this virtual world, we have all the tools to educate interactively (descriptions, animations, simulations anbd reliable websites). The only concern I still have is about credibility. We have to ensure all of the visitors that we’re real physicians and medical students. That’s why I will construct soon a page for listing our credentials and any kind of data regarding our professional life.

6. In your opinion, does SL have an imminent future as a tool or even a venue for medical education?

Second Life was centered around casinos and entertainment in the past. But as casinos were forbidden, we have now the space and opportunity to focus on education. I think the virtual world has an educational golden age nowadays. So yes, even if most of people think it has no future, I’m absolutely sure about it’s future role in medical education.

7. Do you have anything to say about the tide of social media (networking sites like within3, iMedix) in relation to medicine? Can you share a personal thought or two regarding the role of this new media (digital, web, internet) in medicine at present? And your thoughts about the future?

I’m pretty sure this new kind of media will play a major role in the future of medicine. With these community sites, not just the physician-physician interaction becomes easier (e.g., but doctors can communicate with their patients in a more efficient way. It’s not about making a diagnosis on-line, but making contact faster with patients. I plan to work as a geneticist probably in a personalized genetic company and I hope I will not only be able to tell my patient about their own genetic background but to show them some reliable and useful resources where they could find even more information. Web can be the best friend of a physician if used in the right way for the right purpose.

8. What do you hope to achieve in the long run or advocate for with your work at Scienceroll?

It was only a blog with 20 readers, now it has more then 1500 readers a day. My aim is to become one of the most reliable resources of web 2.0 and medicine. I would like to present my slideshow at more and more conferences to show physicians this new world of web. That’s why I have already given slideshows at several local clinics and departments and I took a journey to the US. I also would like to be a good genetic blogger to become a good geneticist. I have a more than normal passion for personalized genetics and I’m pretty sure my future will totally be dedicated to this field of medicine. So blogging or writing about web 2.0 and medicine is just my hobby.

10. How do you balance your time as a medical student and as a successful medical blogger?

First, I’m not a good sleeper, second I’m enthusiastic about my blog. I just love blogging and informing my readers about the most recent improvements of web 2.0 and medicine or genetics. I also like interacting people from around the world and getting many e-mails, suggestions and tips. Blogging can totally change your career. I feel lucky and try to encourage others to start their own blogs. So back to the question, during the day I’m a medical student and this is my top priority, of course. But during the night, I browse the net, organize my web projects, etc. Writing blog posts became one of the most important tasks in my daily routine.


Here is his most recent slideshow presentation. In a few clicks, you will be provided with awareness and some brilliant synthesis of knowledge snippets from many roads, scattered points, nooks, and crannies.

[splashcast MPWF5381CE]

Thank you very much, Berci, for your time and generous attention to this interview. All the best in your endeavors!


~ by Karina Descartin on 10 March 2008.

3 Responses to “Media in Medicine: Bertalan Mesko’s Scienceroll and More Medicine 2.0, an Interview”

  1. Wow, it looks great, Karina! Thank you for your nice words and encouragement! And for the links as well, I seemed to be too lazy to fill the answers up with those. 🙂

  2. Very interesting. I was always curious about number 10!

  3. Hi Y.S.,
    Yes, it is remarkable. Thanks for stopping by.

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