Social media’s influence is growing—but some radiologists remain unimpressed

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Social media has displayed “an increased reach into the medical community,” but it is still underutilized by certain groups in radiology, according to a new study published in Academic Radiology.

The authors sent out an anonymous survey about social media to both trainees and faculty at a large academic radiology practice. Out of more than 100 respondents, 83 percent answered that they use social media in at least some capacity. Breaking it down to specific sites, 67 percent of respondents answered that they use Facebook, 57 percent said they use YouTube, 26 percent said they use Instagram and 21 percent said they use Twitter.

Social media’s potential as a learning tool was also explored.

“[Social media] offers radiology educators the ability to engage with other teachers and learners within and across institutions, as well as within and across medical specialties,” wrote Nicholas A. Koontz, MD, department of radiology and imaging sciences at Indiana University School of Medicine in Indianapolis, and colleagues. “In this regard, the potential for multidisciplinary educational collaboration is tremendous.”

While 35 percent of respondents said they had previously used social media for their own education, 66 percent said they would be willing to join social media for “educational activities.”

The study also showed a few ways the perspective of trainees differ from faculty members. For instance, while 30 percent of faculty members said they avoid using social media, that number was just 9 percent when looking at responses from trainees.

In addition, established specialists see less value in using social media-based “case of the day” activities. “Trainees reported being more likely to find an electronic case-based curriculum valuable for training or education than attending radiologists,” the authors wrote. “Faculty were willing to spend less time daily engaging in a case-based curriculum.”

Similar differences also exist between different generations within radiology. Seventy-four percent of gen X/millennial respondents said they utilized Facebook, for example, compared to 29 percent of baby boomers.

Koontz et al. added that there are “potential pitfalls” to social media that must be avoided. Users need to make sure they never put protected health information at risk, for instance, and unmoderated discussion threads can lead to an atmosphere of bullying or harassment.