Social media through its inherent quality of personal engagement has changed the way we follow current events, learn about new advances in cardiovascular advancements, and communicate within our personal and professional lives. Cardiologists are enthusiastic to embrace new advancements in medical devices, therapies and technologies, but as a whole they tend to be late adopters when it comes to progressive communication tools such as social media. While many cardiologists consider social media a distraction, others think it is a liability threat.
Every day, the social media networks put thousands of posts related to healthcare. In recent years, cardiologists started using social media to learn what is new in cardiology, educate others, discuss challenging cases, promote practice, and even interact with patients to answer questions. Leaders in the field of cardiology think of social media as extension of the doctor-patient relationship.
Why Cardiologist Should Be on Social Media?
Social media is the perfect vehicle for educators, clinicians, and researchers to communicate and stay connected with each other. Instead of waiting to discuss new research in-person with a handful of colleagues at a conference, social media permit virtual discussion with many professionals across the globe giving feedback instantly. When you look at the data, it shows that as a cardiologist, you can have a much broader impact on social media than you normally would by word of mouth. Several areas have been defined where online engagement proved to be a viable platform which includes;
- Better interaction with colleagues
- Better access to information, particularly specialized info
- Wider access to medical and health information
- Increased support for patients and from peers
- Improved surveillance for public health issues
- Increased possibility of influencing healthcare policies
It worth noticing that when social media is used correctly, there are many important ways that it can improve the medical field. Not only can you spread information faster and engage in a wider discussion with other cardiologist, but you may also be able to influence public opinion and help shape policies that affect the entire medical field. We have to always keep in mind that, elected officials are online just as much as anyone, meaning that they can be exposed to new studies and information that they would otherwise ignore.
Limitations of Social Media
Despite the advantage of being dynamic and accessible to public, social media has certain limitations in the medical field. In certain instances, it is hard to control the discussions with potential to deviate from the main objective of the post that was published. Different from peer-review process, users do not have to declare relevant conflicts of interest that could give wrong impression to public who are not expert in the field. Last and for most, the presence of researchers and clinicians on social media is low in comparison with other segments of the population. Thus, there is urgent need for experts available to review social media posts and give their expert unbiased opinion to help the general public make the right choice and get the right impression.
Whether we realize it or not, social media is going to change the way we learn new science, ask questions, advocate for practice or patients, discuss science and share medical onion. Social media is as powerful a tool as we make it. Using social media, we can engage in various interactions in a much easier way than ever before. This can not only help keep us up to date, but also has the potential to save lives.
M Chadi Alraies, MD is an interventional fellow and vice chair of Council on Clinical Cardiology Fellow-In-Training & Early Career Committee of American Heart Association.