Tag Archives: Social Media

Democratizing the Conversation for Greater Good: Social Media Usage at Academic Conferences

By Chris Morley, PhD, Ben Miller, PsyD,  and Mark Ryan, MD

Recently, there has been some discussion about whether the sharing of information presented during academic conferences via social media is appropriate, taking form in both peer-reviewed literature1–4 and in online blogs5 and social media, with a particular focus on Twitter.

Predictably, there are arguments presented against the sharing of material via social media that frequently center on the protection of copyrights, patents, intellectual property, or simply ideas-in-formation. Other arguments tend to fret over whether the sharing of a table, figure, or text, presented in a conference, may somehow represent prior publication that might interfere with the ability to later incorporate the same text into a formal journal publication. The crux of either argument tends to be that the presenter has shared information in one form, but that any sharing of that information beyond that context without the presenter’s express permission infringes upon intellectual property rights and/or future publication possibilities.

This antiquated view of information sharing is in need of disruption. Academia, of all, should learn a thing or two about the need to stay relevant in a day and age where people learn of their news from Twitter. It really puts things in perspective when one considers that most academicians wait 8–12 months (or longer!) for a peer-review process to be complete to allow them to share their findings. Conferences have long been one of the best ways to allow for academicians to share their findings with a broader audience while waiting on the laborious and lengthy peer-review process to complete.

However, should we take it as far as to tell people to not tweet what they hear or see at a conference?

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Social Media Makes Everyone Part of the “In” Group at Conferences

Mary Theobald Vice President, Communications and Programs

Mary Theobald
Vice President,
Communications and Programs

Like many of you, I attended the recent Conference on Practice Improvement. Greenville was beautiful, the presentations were both educational and motivational, and it was nice to have a few days out of the office making personal connections with STFM members.

It was also fun being a part of the social media network. Tweeting during the conference made me feel like I was part of the “in” group (or, to quote speaker Marcia Nielsen, PhD, I was an “It Girl.”) Through Twitter, I was privy to both silly and serious conversations between friends, inside jokes, and attendee perspectives on speaker remarks. It was like a friendly dinner party (sans the dinner) within a conference.

Conferences are a good place to get started with Twitter. At the low-involvement level, which is where I often hang out, you just latch onto catchy soundbites from speakers and tweet them out, accompanied by the conference hashtag (in this case #CPI12). If your tweet is on target, others will retweet it, making you an instant celebrity in the Twitter community.

A few less introverted social media pundits at this conference took their celebrity status to an even higher level, courtesy of self-proclaimed “social media enthusiast” Mike Sevilla, MD. Dr Sevilla brought his camera and microphone to the conference and interviewed several speakers and partners. The interviews, along with Dr Sevilla’s comments are on his blog at familymedicinerocks.com.

I hope you’ll join the online conversation at the next STFM conference, especially if you’re new to the organization or the conference. Tweeting is a fun, easy way to meet and connect with other attendees. And everyone’s welcome to be part of this “in” group.

Family Medicine Should Be a Prominent Voice in Social Media

Mark Ryan, MD

In this post on my Social Media Healthcare blog I described why I think physicians benefit from being active in social media. The combined benefits of enhanced partnerships and new connections, keeping up with current clinical and health policy information, and expanding one’s understanding of health care from the perspective of patients and other health care providers are valuable outcomes that all physicians should value. After all, why do we read journals, attend CME, watch webinars, and listen to conference calls? To keep our clinical

knowledge up to date in order to provide the best care for our patients and to learn from each others’ experiences. Active participation in social media can provide these same benefits.

Over the last couple of years, I have seen more and more family physicians becoming active on social media, especially on Twitter.  I have been trying to keep a list of all the family physicians (and GPs) I have encountered on Twitter, though I know that this must be incomplete. A quick scan of the list, however, shows the breadth of perspectives and opinions held by family physicians and gives insight into the challenges and rewards of being a family doctor.

I believe that family medicine can, and should, be even more active on social media. In fact, I believe that family medicine should be the prominent medical specialty in social media and especially on Twitter. Here’s why:

  • Family medicine believes in empowering patients to take active roles in their care. Social media is a prime venue for patients who are seeking to learn from each other and share experiences.Through the e-patient movement, patients use social media to inform themselves and each other about health, wellness, and specific illnesses. Physicians are rarely part of the discussion. With the breadth of knowledge family physicians have, we can join in to help ensure patients have accurate and reliable information. Family medicine’s bio-psycho-social approach to care, which enables us to provide capable and effective care for patients with chronic illness, would also be valuable in discussions with engaged and empowered patients who are seeking to improve their health.
  • Too many people don’t understand family medicine. As noted in this recent post, primary care and family medicine are not usually given starring roles in the media and are often confronted with the argument that the role of family physicians can be easily assumed by nurse practitioners and physician assistants. By talking about our careers, our practices, and (within the bounds of patient privacy and confidentiality) our patients—their illnesses, struggles, and victories—we can control the message and we can show the public what it means to be a family physician.
  • Family physicians are taught to educate and inform patients and to be a resource to those who seek information about their health. The Pew Internet Project has noted that even though many Americans don’t consider themselves e-patients, large numbers of people with health concerns are looking for information online and are using peer-to-peer connections to find answers. Our patients are using social media; why aren’t we? Given family medicine’s whole-person orientation and patient-centered approach to care, we should strive to meet our patients where they are. Increasingly, they are online.
  • For many years, it has been difficult to recruit US medical students into family medicine. Now that more and more medical students are using social media, we could act as virtual role models and mentors. If there is a robust and vibrant family medicine community online, and if we discuss what we love about being family physicians, we might encourage medical students (and premedical students) to look at careers in family medicine.
  • Social media provides an opportunity to unite to advocate for change. As seen in Mike Sevilla’s #SaveGME campaign, when family docs organize, we can have notable reach. The #SaveGME initiative was a short-notice, one-time effort to point out the importance of protecting GME funding. Even with limited preparation, the group was able to reach tens of thousands of people. Imagine if all family physicians on social media organized to advocate on key positions: I suspect we could reach hundreds of thousands of people.