The Powerful Role of Social Media in the Field of Cardiology
The growth and use of social media have grown exponentially over the last decade with an eight fold increase since 20051. Social media is generally defined as an Internet-based platform that allows individuals and/or communities to gather virtually to communicate ideas, collaborate, share information, share pictures and videos, either as a direct message or general post in real time1. There are several social media platforms that healthcare professionals may use, such as Twitter, LinkedIn, Doximity, and Facebook. Twitter has been a very popular platform in the field of Cardiology with many Cardiologists, Cardiovascular research scientists, Cardiology providers, professional journals and Cardiology-based professional societies using this platform to expand their reach to their colleagues, professional society members, and the public in an effort to educate, advocate and raise awareness. There are several powerful roles that social media serves in the Cardiology field. These include networking, sharing meaningful opinions, fostering educational discussions centered around a cardiology topic or paper of interest, promoting or raising awareness of the latest research or guideline publication, promoting a professional meeting or event, promotion of healthy initiatives, collaboration among colleagues and support of colleagues.
Beneficial Uses of Social Media
Social media platforms allow many professionals in the cardiology field to connect with other colleagues and follow prominent cardiologists and research scientists. This connection transcends geographic borders, and therefore allows users to extend their networking reach internationally. This ability to network provides a sense of community and serves as one’s professional village where colleagues are able to share their professional ideas and share opinions on various topics.
b) Sharing important opinions and educational discussions on topics or publications relevant to Cardiology
Twitter also allows users to discuss topics and publications relevant to cardiology. Many times these are threads of a conversation joined by several colleagues. However, several professional organizations such as the American Society of Echocardiography (ASE) and the American College of Cardiology (ACC) have virtual tutorials, called “tweetorials,” which allows users to present and discuss a topic of interest in real time. These discussions can be very educational and serve as great learning tool. These discussions may also include reference to relevant publications and allows users to stay up to date with the scientific literature, as well.
c) Promotion of professional meetings and events
Many professional societies, such as the American Heart Association (AHA), American College of Cardiology (ACC), American Society of Echocardiography (ASE), American Society of Nuclear Cardiology (ASNC), Society of Nuclear Cardiology (SCCT), and the Society of of Cardiac Magnetic Resonance Imaging (SCMR), use social media platforms to promote their annual scientific meetings and events at these meetings. In fact, many of these meetings have social media (SoMe) ambassadors to help in promoting their meeting and to share important educational slides and messages from the meeting with other social media users, which is an excellent educational tool in getting important points out to the the rest of the cardiology community and the public. Additionally, these professional meetings allow for cardiology colleagues who have connected virtually on Social Media to meet in person, as well. A hashtag (#) is a metadata tag that is used on social media platforms that allows posted content associated with a specific theme or content to be easily found2. Useful and popular hashtags used in the field of cardiology on Twitter are #CardioTwitter and #Cardiology. In fact many of the annual scientific meetings for several professional organizations will use hashtags for their meeting to allow social media users to readily identify posted social media content related to the meeting. This usually generates a significant degree of social media traffic and commentary related to the meeting and this further promotes the meeting and the professional organization globally. In fact at the 2018 annual American Heart Association’s Scientific Sessions, (#AHA18) there were over 300 million impressions generated globally2 on Twitter using the #AHA18 hashtag.
d) Discussion and promotion of latest research papers and guidelines
Many professional medical journals post important publications such as research papers and guidelines on social media to assist in promotion of important educational documents. In addition social media users also post their latest research papers and invited talks to help in promoting their scientific work and in the sharing of important educational information. With regards to posted research papers, it has been suggested that citations of research papers on Twitter can increase the citation rate of the paper and can also increase the impact factor of the the publication journal2. A prior analysis3 has shown that social media activity related to a publication paper increases the citation rate of the paper and therefore helps to promote published academic work. In fact the latest 2018 AHA/ACC Cholesterol management guidelines4, as well as the latest Physical Activity guidelines5, were released at the recently concluded American Heart Association meeting (#AHA18) and there was a significant amount of social media activity and discussion related to these two manuscripts. This therefore assisted to raise awareness of these guidelines within the cardiovascular community.
e) Starting healthy initiatives and sharing health promoting information with peers and the public
Promotion of healthy initiatives, such as heart healthy eating and increasing physical activity, have also been done on social media. Many cardiologists have used social media to share health educational material with the public and their colleagues.
f) Collaboration with and Providing Support for colleagues
Social media, especially Twitter, can help to create your professional community with colleagues who have similar professional interests. It provides a platform for collaboration with peers for various initiatives and opens the door for opportunities to collaborate with colleagues on research projects. This social media village creates a network that can be supportive with regards to helping to promote your professional interests and your academic publications through retweets and commentary.
Responsible use of social media
Responsible use of social media is very important, Always ensure that there is adherence to patient privacy regulation and ensure that social media posts are free of any patient identifying information. It is also vital that you maintain a high level of professionalism and avoid posting any social media information or pictures that can be professionally and ethically compromising for both yourself and others. It is very important not to tarnish your professional brand.6
The benefits of social media platforms such as Twitter are numerous and proves to be an increasingly relevant learning tool that assists in keeping one abreast of the medical literature. Twitter is also very useful for one’s career growth and provides a great opportunity for networking with peers globally. Social media helps in building your professional brand.
- Ventola CL. Social Media and Health Care Professionals: Benefits, Risks, and Best Practices. P T. 2014 Jul; 39(7): 491-499, 520.
- American Heart Association Scientific Sessions 2018 meeting metrics provided by the AHA
- Eysenbach G. (2011) Can Tweets predict citations? Metrics of social impact based on Twitter and correlation with traditional metrics of scientific impact. J Med Internet Res 13:e123.
- Grundy SM, Stone NJ, Bailey AL, Beam LT, Birtcher KK, et al. 2018AHA/ACC/AACVPR/AAPA/ABC/ACPM/ADA/AGS/APhA/ASPC/NLA/PCNA Guideline on the Management of Blood Cholesterol. JACC Nov 2018, 25709; DOI: 10.1016/j.jacc.2018.11.003
- The Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans: THe HHS Roadmap for an Active Healthy Nation. Second Edition. ADM Brett P. Giroir, MD
- Bullock-Palmer RP. You Are Now a Board-Certified Cardiologist and Cardiac Imager…Now What? The Importance of Lifelong Learning and Career Growth
May 2018 https://www.acc.org/membership/sections-and-councils/imaging-section/section-updates/2018/05/17/09/44/you-are-now-a-boardcertified-cardiologist-and-cardiac-imager