RSNA 2017: Why radiologists should start using social media

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Millennials aren't the only ones becoming increasingly advanced with using social media; to the surprise of many, radiologists are also among them. Becoming savvier with liking, commenting, sharing, and posting, social media is slowly but surely becoming a multifunctional tool in medicine, as explained in the session "Hands on Introduction to Social Media" at RSNA 2017 on Nov. 27.  

As Saad Ranginwala, MD, a pediatric radiology fellow at Cincinnati Children's Hospital Medical Center and RSNA 2017 presenter said regarding the value of clinicians and physicians utilizing social media, "Social media is here to stay; there's no point in trying to avoid this, this is just the way the world is trending now. Social media is a relatively new technology and I think we should aim at harnessing new technology that comes our way."  

Ranginwala, whose residency hospital currently utilizes social media for their own pediatric practice, began the session by iterating that images are the foundation of radiology, which is ideal for social media and reaching a large number of people worldwide, 24/7.  

He highlighted three social media networks that he believes can be of advantage to radiologists: Instagram, Twitter, and Figure 1. Although Instagram is ideal for radiologists to share images due to its design, Twitter and Figure 1 are the most valuable for radiologists, according to Ranginwala. The advantages of using Twitter, which Ranginwala explained is the main social media network used among radiologists, outnumbers its disadvantages. With a large user base, a multiplatform sharing ability, hashtags, polling, and the fact that it's a staple in the daily workflow, the limit of characters one can post on Twitter is in no comparison to what one can actually do. Figure 1, a Toronto based online social networking services for healthcare professionals and students, is also an essential social media platform for radiologists, Ranginwala discussed. Polls, user friendly interaction with images and content, annotation tools, access to patient health information, and a case collection feature are just some of its features.  

Although social media allows radiologists to directly reach out to patients and vice versa, Ranginwala warns that clinicians alike should check with a legal team for posting and sharing guidelines. Most importantly, the patient must be protected at all costs. Additionally, Amy Kotsenas, MD, a consultant in the radiology department at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, MN, discussed that radiologists using social media must be aware of the privacy and security of their accounts. She suggested that using a password manager, using two-factor authentications for login information, and disabling location services will help keep accounts protected from hacking.  

Tirath Patel, MD, continued to the presentation explaining the similarities and differences between the professional networking sites LinkedIn and Doximity. While LinkedIn serves as an online professional networking site for anyone regardless of profession, Doximity is solely for physicians based in the United States.  

As Patel stated, Doximity is "LinkedIn for doctors", with more than 60% of U.S. physicians using it currently. Most recently, Doximity has expanded its services to nurse practitioners and physician assistants in the U.S. Labeled a top 5 app from the American College of Physicians, Doximity provides physicians CME tools, HIPPA (Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996) compliant messaging between physicians and with posting content, a news portal, automatically adding press mentions to profiles, and automictically pulls data from other professional organizations and public databases to create a physician's profile. A physician's Doximity profile can go beyond serving as a mini CV by featuring accepted insurance information, spoken languages, and professional publications. Residency students also have a hand in using Doximity with its residency navigator, which allows prospective residency students to ask physicians about the quality of different medical residency programs in the U.S. 

"I think the biggest advantage to engaging in social media professionally is being able to engage with people you may not be able to come across with face to face in life and gain a lot of different perspectives," said Tessa Cook, MD, PhD, an assistant professor of radiology at the Perelman School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia.  

Cook, who admitted to be an avid "tweeter" during conferences such as RSNA, spoke about etiquette, professionalism, and radiologists' involvement in social media. Readdressing the importance of HIPPA along with radiologist usage social media, Cook explained that it's important to consider current events when posting and to post regularly and frequently. However, according to a study by C. Matthew Hawkins, only 10 percent of radiologists have existing social media profile, which Cook hopes will soon change because of the advantage online community social media provides. These communities, as well as related content and posts, are aggregated and easily searchable through by various hashtags such as #LCSM and #BCSM.  

Yet with communities existing online, just as in the real world, controversial topics and disagreements are inevitable. However, Cook asserted, "It's definitely a challenging but very important thing to listen to contrary opinions in respect alternative perspectives and be able to disagree and not to disrespect."