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How can cardiologists optimise social media?

ESC Congress News 2018 - Munich, Germany

Consider the global reach of the most-used social media platforms—Twitter, LinkedIn, Facebook, Instagram, YouTube—and it’s easy to see how social media has become so powerful. In this afternoon’s session ‘Social media for the cardiologist’ (Sunday, 12:45 – 13:45; Agora 1 – Agora), we explore how cardiologists can take advantage of this ever-present influence to connect with colleagues, share and gain knowledge and help with day-to-day decision making in their clinical practice.



social-media.jpgThere’s no denying the amount of time that people spend on social media, whether it be connecting with colleagues on LinkedIn, checking Facebook, Twitter or sharing photographs and videos via Instagram and YouTube, so why should busy cardiologists engage with it? As Shelley Wood, Managing Editor of TCTMD and Editorial Director at the Cardiovascular Research Foundation, New York, USA, who co-chairs today’s session explains, “Cardiologists can really use social media in different ways, depending on the medium they get involved with. People typically say that social media is a waste of time, but I think users can set their own parameters and spend as much or as little time on it as they choose.”

So, what can cardiologists get out of social media? “It’s a good way to connect with colleagues who are passionate about the same topics and to keep up to date with current research,” says Ms Wood. “A recent survey carried out by TCTMD1 that looked at how our subscribers learn revealed that almost a third of respondents regularly browse social media. Of those with a Twitter account, 64% say they are using it to learn about new developments in their field of interest,” she says.

Facebook and LinkedIn are helpful for cardiologists in staying connected with colleagues and keeping up to date with new developments. However, Twitter is arguably the most useful platform as it is the most dynamic. Ms Wood adds, “For those who see social media as a ‘time-sink’, it’s possible to use Twitter passively, in that it’s not always necessary to engage in discussions. By using hashtags, such as #cardiotwitter, #cardiology, #AFib and #TAVR for example, tweets can be categorised in a way that makes it easy for users to find and follow tweets about a specific topic.”

What about other ways that cardiologists can use social media? “Twitter, in particular, can be used as a ‘crowd source’ and many find it to be a good way of raising awareness of newly-published studies, patient recruitment for clinical trials that are enrolling, or to assist with day-to-day decision-making, such as asking for help with their cases. For example, seeking tips on patient care or asking for alternative approaches to problems, dosing strategies or, particularly in interventional cardiology, particular techniques to use,” continues Ms Wood. “Also, I read an interesting thread on Twitter recently that discussed failures—cardiologists were reaching out to others who had had the same setbacks with their cases and sharing ideas and advice.”

There is clearly a need to be sensitive when posting images, angiograms, CT scans, etc., to ensure that patients cannot be identified from the information being shared. Are there any other pitfalls? “Well, there is a tendency for users to behave differently online than they would do outside of social media,” highlights Ms Wood. “People are likely to be more outspoken on social media than they would be in person, and I would caution against that. As a rule of thumb, you shouldn’t say anything on social media that you wouldn’t also say to someone face to face.”

The growth of social media over the last 10–15 years has been incredibly rapid, so where next for cardiology? Will dedicated social media sites for physician audiences only be of interest, and what would be the pros and cons of closed platforms, accessible only to those who fully understand the content? “Social media is based on the concept of openness and sharing, but we are already seeing social platforms evolve that are restricted to medical doctors or subspecialties. It’s not clear whether those help keep conversations focused, or whether they deter out-of-the-box thinking and problem solving,” says Ms Wood. Whatever developments await us in the future, it is clear that social media is the present—so, why not embrace it and see what it can do for you?

  1. 2018 TCTMD Learning Survey. Available at tctmd.com/news/we-asked-you-answered-learning-numbers

Don’t miss!
Social media for the cardiologist
12:45 – 13:45; Agora 1 – Agora

Click here to read other scientific highlights in the ESC Congress news.

Notes to editor

About the European Society of Cardiology

The European Society of Cardiology brings together healthcare professionals from more than 150 countries, working to advance cardiovascular medicine and help people lead longer, healthier lives.

About ESC Congress 2018

ESC Congress is the world’s largest and most influential cardiovascular event contributing to global awareness of the latest clinical trials and breakthrough discoveries. ESC Congress 2018 takes place 25 to 29 August at the Messe München in Munich, Germany. Explore the scientific programme