ATLANTA—Should otolaryngologists use social media platforms like Twitter, Facebook, or Instagram to expand their professional network, engage with patients, or promote their published research? Four physicians at a panel discussion at the American Academy of Otolaryngology–Head and Neck Surgery (AAO–HNS) Annual Meeting in Atlanta on October 6, 2018, “#ENTSurgery: How Otolaryngologists Can Leverage Social Media to Promote Public Health, Disseminate Science and Build Their Professional Network,” said yes.
Explore this issue:November 2018
They offered their tips and potential pitfalls for social media use to fellow surgeons, who are increasingly online-curious. According to a 2018 study, social media was the preferred networking and communication tool for 22% of surveyed surgeons, and 70% of surgeons find social media useful for networking purposes, said moderator Alexander Langerman, MD, SM, a head and neck surgeon at Vanderbilt University Medical Center in Nashville (J Surg Educ. 2018;75:804–810).
Facebook and Twitter are the most popular platforms for surgeons, said Dr. Langerman, who noted that this session’s panel was arranged over Twitter—in just 24 hours. “All major healthcare professional conferences, organizations, and government and health policy agencies now have a social media presence. It is de rigueur,” said Dr. Langerman. “You can do a lot as a surgeon on Twitter. It is a great way to put yourself out there and get feedback.”
Curate Academic Information
Social media can seem crowded and noisy to a busy physician. Focus on curating academic information to enhance collaboration and stay up to date on surgical research, said Jennifer A. Villwock, MD, a rhinology and skull base surgeon at the University of Kansas Medical Center (@docwock). She also manages the Women in Rhinology account (@Women_Rhinology).
Consider how different readers may view your posts. “As you’re putting content onto the Internet, people don’t know your background, or what was happening with that patient or that research. It’s easy to post something that you think is benign and helpful, but it could be interpreted in different ways,” she said.
Professionals who read your tweets about your research may offer “pseudo-peer review,” said Dr. Villwock. “On Twitter, the peer review process is simplified. There’s a tweet, and then the ‘peer review’ is either retweeting, liking, or nothing. It offers a nice opportunity for potentially high-impact studies that may take a while to gain traction and gain a broader readership,” she added.
Curate information online by searching for hashtags related to research on specific topics, she said. One example: #UTI led her to tweets on post-surgical urinary tract infection management studies. “Social media is a great opportunity for that cross-pollination—how can we apply what’s being done in other fields to our field?”
One rising social media-driven innovation is the visual abstract, or a single-slide, graphic summary of a study’s main findings, said Andrew M. Ibrahim, MD, MSc, resident surgeon at the University of Michigan (@AndrewMIbrahim). He quickly shared four visual abstracts with the audience on a glioblastoma therapy trial, a children’s sleep study, a commentary on patient-centered hospital design, and a survey on barriers to developing surgical scientists.