Fresh perspective for success in healthcare

More Reasons Why Doctors Should Be on Twitter

I am a physician, clinical researcher, and educator.

I am also on Twitter and tweet under the handle @EMARIANOMD.

Naturally you may ask:  “How does Twitter fit into a physician’s academic career?” Many of my colleagues consider this a waste of time. Some of the benefits that Twitter offers doctors have been described previously by Dr. Brian Secemsky and Dr. Marjorie Stiegler among others, including me. Here are a few more reasons to consider:

  • Global Conversation:  Through Twitter I interact with people from around the world with similar interests. Participating in Twitter chats like #healthxph or #hcldr can foster innovative ideas that may lead to research questions or other educational opportunities. I participated in a recent #healthxph chat about healthcare change management. Thirteen countries were represented (map courtesy of TweepsMap)!

Mariano-Map

  • Opportunities for Collaboration: As a physician anesthesiologist specializing in acute pain medicine, I often tweet about anesthesia and pain management for common surgeries. As a result of my tweeting on #kneereplacement, I was invited by orthopedic surgeon, Dr. Brian Hatten, to revise the anesthesia information page on his site, My Knee Guide, a powerful and popular online portal for people considering or undergoing knee replacement surgery.
  • Search Optimization:  On multiple occasions, I have found research articles that my traditional PubMed searches have missed through the tweets posted by colleagues. I have even been able to relocate certain articles faster on Twitter than PubMed when I know they have been tweeted. Researchers can think of hashtags (starting with “#”) essentially like keywords in the academic world. I periodically check #anesthesia, #meded, #pain, and #kneereplacement for new articles related to my research interests.
  • Lifelong Learning: Today, it’s difficult to even keep up with new articles just in my own subspecialty. Through Twitter, I can follow journals, professional societies, colleagues with similar interests, and patients who share their experiences going through various surgeries and illnesses. I honestly feel that my breadth of knowledge has increased beyond what I would have acquired on my own.
  • Research Promotion:  As a clinical researcher, my hope is that my study results will ultimately affect the care of patients. Through Twitter, I can alert my followers when our research group publishes an article. I also get feedback and “peer review” from colleagues around the world. Since I started tweeting in 2013, citations of my published articles (a traditional metric in academics) have increased. Perhaps there are other factors involved, but I fully believe that Twitter has played a role.
  • Enriched Conference Experience:  A growing trend at medical conferences is “live-tweeting” the meeting (1, 2).  One of my own issues when I attend or present at conferences is that I feel like I miss much of the meeting due to scheduling conflicts. By living vicariously through my colleagues’ tweets, I can pick up pearls of wisdom from speakers in other sessions even while sitting in a different hall. I can also “virtually” attend conferences by following tweets under the hashtags of meetings like #PCP15 in the Philippines or #AMEE2015 in Scotland in the comfort of my own home.

I often get asked:  “Does anyone really care if I tweet what I eat for breakfast?” Probably not. The truth is that you don’t have to tweet anything at all if you don’t want to. Up to 44% of Twitter accounts have never sent a tweet. I love this quote from Natalie Lafferty (@nlafferty) tweeted at #AMEE2015:

“Twitter is about the power of your network…a rushing river you dip in and out of.”

I will admit that getting started is intimidating, but I encourage you to try it if you haven’t already. I promise that you won’t regret it, and chances are that you’ll be very happy you did. Of course, to be a physician actively engaged on Twitter requires respect for patient privacy and professionalism. I recommend following Dr. John Mandrola’s 10 rules for doctors on social media. If you’re still too worried to take the leap, I suggest reading these tips from Marie Ennis-O’Connor to boost your confidence. AT LEAST SIGN UP, RESERVE YOUR HANDLE, AND OBSERVE.

Observation is key to science.Tweet:

Dr. Mariano is an anesthesiologist. He can be reached on his self-titled site, Edward R. Mariano, M.D. and on Twitter @EMARIANOMD. This post originally appeared on his site.

REFERENCES:

  1. Ekins S, Perlstein EO. Ten simple rules of live tweeting at scientific conferences. PLoS Comput Biol. 2014 Aug 21;10(8):e1003789.
  2. Djuricich AM, Zee-Cheng JE. Live tweeting in medicine: ‘Tweeting the meeting’. Int Rev Psychiatry. 2015 Apr;27(2):133-9.

Edward R. Mariano, MD, MAS

After graduating from Georgetown University School of Medicine, Dr. Mariano completed his anesthesiology residency at Stanford University Medical Center and pediatric anesthesiology fellowship at Stanford University Medical Center/Lucile Packard Children’s Hospital. View full bio on authors page

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