Making Progress in Social Media and Medicine: Engagement at ACC

This week at the American College of Cardiology meetings I was amazed by the uptick in Social media engagement. While 75% of all fortune 500 companies are represented and active on twitter, doctors have been quite slow to enter into the social media space. Many of us have who have pioneered social media in medicine have often felt like Dr. Sisyphus as we push the “Social Boulder” up the hill in order to show our colleagues the value of digital engagement. However, it appears that finally the tide is turning…..

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From the very outset of the meeting the hashtag #ACC16 began trending. Just in time for the annual sessions, the American College of Cardiology recently created and published a Cardiology Hastag Ontology reference guide in order to bring together the broad topics within cardiovascular disease so that common subjects of discussion can be easily identified, searched and catalogued.

Analytics from #ACC16 demonstrated that by meetings’ end, there were nearly 3600 individual tweets, 35 million individual impressions with roughly 1500 members participating via social media platforms such as twitter. During the meeting, there was an average of 155 tweets per hour and many participants “live tweeted” during important presentations such as the late breaking clinical trials sessions on each day. Leadership in digital engagement was spread among individual attendees, twitter feeds from the college itself as well as feeds from institutions such as the Mayo and Cleveland Clinics. Interestingly, the “Top 10 Influencers” by impressions were not the same as the Top 10 by tweets—suggesting that WHAT you say may be more influential that HOW MUCH you say in the digital space.

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Screenshot via Symplur at #ACC16

Furthering the importance of social media and mobile health in medicine at ACC, a novel study evaluating the use of digital tools for engaging patients on outcomes was presented at the meeting as well. Researchers from Mayo clinic investigated whether or not patients undergoing cardiac rehabilitation would benefit from using specially designed health tools on their smartphones. In the study, 80 patients were randomized to a group having access to a smartphone mobile health tool with cardiac rehabilitation versus rehabilitation alone. Primary endpoint was total weight loss in the 12-week time period. The mobile tool group lost four times as much weight compared with those undergoing 12 weeks of cardiac rehabilitation alone. This randomized controlled trial is the first in the U.S. to look at how adding the use of mobile and wireless devices concurrently with cardiac rehab might improve health outcomes—and clearly demonstrates the power of patient engagement via digital platforms.

Once again, social media sessions were included as part of the Annual Scientific Meetings academic programming. I was honored to chair and participate in the session alongside many distinguished colleagues. The session was well attended and each talk was delivered in a TED talk style format—emphasizing audience engagement, interaction and story-telling. Slides contained images rather than charts and each speaker shared real world experiences and examples of social media and digital successes. Topics included the use of social media for connectivity, engagement and innovation.   The expanding use of mobile tools for the advancement of clinical trials was explored as well as issues surrounding direct patient engagement.

It is clear that the American College of Cardiology has embraced the digital space. As cardiologists we are innovators and social media and digital engagement should be no exception. The future of social media in medicine is limitless—it is my hope that in 2017, we add to the numbers of active healthcare providers on social media.   Ultimately, engagement can only help the people that we are pledged to serve—our patients. Through embracing our digital future in medicine, we can improve outcomes, improve disease awareness and access to care and provide new tools for disease management. Lets all be part of the leading edge of the bell curve—As Rogers shows us in Diffusion of Innovations, we must be the early adopters…not the laggards, in order to maximize success.

 

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Rogers, EM Diffusion of Innovations, 2003

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