PHOTO CAPTION: At RSNA 2017, Saad Ranginwala, MD, shared how the radiology department at Cincinnati Children’s Hospital uses social media to drive engagement with patients, families, and the professional community.
Early in his career, Tirath Y. Patel, MD, (@TirathPatelMD) a radiologist at Houston Radiological Associates, came across Saurabh Jha, MBBS, (@RogueRad) an assistant professor of radiology at the University of Pennsylvania, on Twitter. The two began conversing and although they had never met in person, formed a fast friendship. “Thanks to this relationship, I was able to be involved in scholarly projects with Dr. Jha,” says Patel.
Social media comes in all different forms, and it’s increasingly becoming a valuable career tool for radiologists. According to Patel, because of relationships forged online, such as the one with Jha, he’s been able to participate in projects and committees that he otherwise would not have been made privy to. “Having a larger network is usually good, not only for career goals, but also for basic enrichment of the mind when exposed to different viewpoints,” says Patel. “That network can also increase a radiologist’s scholarly presence to disseminate and discuss academic work, which could also lead to even more opportunities.”
Creating a Brand
According to Saad Ranginwala, MD, (@SaadR) social media is available to a wide audience and can therefore be used by radiology organizations to disseminate a brand or public image for their institution. “Hospitals can highlight notable staff, important events, accomplishments, and other things they want to showcase to the world,” says Ranginwala, a pediatric radiologist at Lurie Children’s Hospital of Chicago.
Ranginwala adds that having a social media presence allows radiologists to control their own narratives rather than someone else doing it for them. “Radiologists can lend their personal expertise to situations and establish themselves as leaders in the most prominent public forum currently available,” he says.
Teaching the World
Social media can also be vital for radiology education. “Social media is such a huge part of our daily lives,” says Ranginwala. “Posting educational content on social media allows for small snippets of learning to occur within our daily workflow, without us taking extra time to seek out educational materials. I see a number of cases each day without making any great extra effort.”
Ranginwala notes that on an international level, social media allows radiologists to reach users all over the world who may never otherwise have the opportunity to see cases other radiologists are exposed to. For instance, ACR (@RadiologyACR) posts a new Case in Point™ every day to Twitter and Instagram, which radiologists can use to test and improve their clinical knowledge. The ACR also posts a weekly multiple-choice question based on Continuous Professional Improvement™ modules, and after giving followers a few days to weigh in, posts the correct most likely diagnosis. The radiology department at Cincinnati Children’s Hospital (cincykidsrad) uses Instagram to share a single case under a daily theme.
The easiest way to get started on social media is to just jump in, says Ranginwala. “Start by choosing your platform and make an account,” he says. Different platforms can have different uses. Ranginwala notes that Instagram and Figure 1, an online social networking service for healthcare professionals to post and comment on medical images, are great mediums for organizational promotion and education. But pay attention to what you’re posting, advises Patel. He says that one of the biggest concerns physicians have with starting social media is patient privacy and medical advice. “My recommendation has always been to think of social media as a public setting such as a sidewalk,” says Patel. “Would you discuss a patient’s case with or give medical advice to a stranger on a sidewalk? Probably not.”
Ranginwala notes that once you get started on social media, the possibilities are endless. The more active users are, the better known they can become. Patel likens it to a snowball effect. “Being involved on social media led to projects, which in turn led to even more projects and scholarly activities,” says Patel. “However, if it weren’t for that initial snowflake, there would be no growing snowball.”