Social media’s influence on radiology continues to grow

It’s no secret that the influence of social media platforms such as Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn has exploded in recent years. A single post can boost a company’s profile or sink its reputation, while entertainers and politicians can speak out to millions of followers with no filter whatsoever.

Over at RadiologyBusiness.com, we’ve been tracking this trend as it makes more of a direct impact on radiology. Several years ago, a relatively small number of individual radiologists, technologists and imaging leaders used social media to stay connected with colleagues or for their own personal amusement. In the last few years, however, radiology has embraced social media more than ever before, and to great effect. 

2016 seemed to represent a significant shift. Academic journals such as the Journal of the American College of Radiology (JACR) did occasionally cover the potential reach of social media in 2015, but the topic became much more popular in 2016 and 2017. Now, JACR, Academic Radiology and other journals cover various aspects of these platforms on a regular basis. How can social media be used to improve patient satisfaction? What do these platforms tell us about medical students and residents? Are they helpful for spreading information about healthcare policy? Researchers throughout the world are clearly impressed with the impact of social media and interested in how they can help radiologists navigate value-based care. 

Of course, social media’s influence in radiology goes well beyond academic journals. Through the use of specific hashtags—#mammogram, #radiology and so on—both patients and specialists are using Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and other platforms to communicate directly about medical imaging. Groups like the women’s imaging network Mammosphere, for example, host Twitter Q&A sessions where patients can ask specific questions about mammography, breast cancer or any other topic related to women’s health. This isn’t just social media as a marketing tool—it’s social media as a quick, easy way to expand knowledge and improve care.

Another way to watch these platforms in action is to follow along during any major industry conference. Attendees use the HIMSS, SIIM, RBMA, RSNA and ACR annual meetings—and many others—to interact with one another, digitally congregating around specific hashtags to compare notes. Educational sessions are even starting to cover this topic, teaching beginners the basics and helping experienced users grow even more proficient at using these websites to their advantage. 

Almost every imaging professional, practice, department, vendor, journal and website now has an account on at least one social media platform. The Radiology Business family will continue to monitor the influence of these platforms on the practice of radiology, both through daily content at RadiologyBusiness.com and the exclusive longform content found in each issue of Radiology Business Journal. 

Thanks for reading.

Michael Walter is editor and digital strategist for RadiologyBusiness.com.