Tweetiatricians: Social Media and Medicine

Hello, friends!

First of all, its 6:30 pm and I’m in my pajamas. Christmas pajamas. Watching World News Tonight. I have no idea why I’m single.

So, the 5 of you who read this know that I am an OB/GYN resident. If you didn’t, now you do.

As part of our residency, we are required in our 4th year to give a “Grand Rounds.” This is a 45-1hr lecture on any topic of your choosing.

Personally, I found this quite intimidating. Why? Well, the people you are lecturing to are mostly senior to you and know much more about OB/GYN than you do. So, to bring something new to the table is somewhat difficult.

I racked my brain about what I may know that the department wouldn’t.

The best exercise classes? SoulCycle versus FlyWheel – the eternal debate? Is ClassPass worth it? 5k or Half Marathon?


[My entire adult life has been with a Facebook account (I got it in the spring of 2004, when I graduated high school. #OG?)]

I ended up doing my grand rounds on social media and medicine…”Tweetiatricians.”

I wasn’t so sure how it would be received, but people really seemed to like it.

Given the interest, I thought I’d post a few things here that struck a chord with people.



Why should doctors care? Because, WE ALL USE GOOGLE. I even use Dr. Google, even though I tell patients “don’t google that!” And, of course, I diagnosed myself with about 6 different fatal maladies. See? Google can be dangerous.

But, Google…and the internet all together…can give you a leg up! If you find the right resources, you can go into your appointments more informed or with your expectations managed.

Look, I love twitter (fine, I like instagram more). However, Dr. Google will never replace a solid doctor-patient relationship and IRL conversation. But, can we work together – internet, doctor, and patient? I think we can. We’re all in this together. Cue “High School Musical.”

Screen Shot 2016-12-09 at 7.20.52 PM.png

I introduced a lot of people to the wide world of Twitter.

I like to thing of Twitter as my electronic word of mouth.

What I might think is interesting…and what I want to tell my friends and family about I can now tell to anyone who happens to follow me on the internet. So, for instance, when ACOG posted a tweet regarding IUDs, I “retweeted” it to my followers. Retweeting is a way to amplify information that merits repeating, such that the most useful content can be shared with a progressively wider audience.

If we can make good medical information go viral, we could really do a lot of good.

Unfortunately, doctors have been a little slow on the uptake on social media and even slower on how to improve your visibility, SEO, etc.

***Thanks to Theodora for giving me run down on SEO***


I introduce the topic (and concept of) hashtags and you know what’s cool? There’s a company out there called Symplur that started the “Healthcare Hashtag Project.

The project tries to make Twitter more accessible to providers and the healthcare community as a whole. They attempt to help lower the learning curve of Twitter by providing a database of relevant hashtags to follow so new and existing users can find conversations that are of interest and important to them.

Symplur also lists hashtags for health care conferences and twitter chats, which I’ll talk about in a minute. They also identify the most frequent users and most frequent mentions related to a certain hashtag so you can follow thought leaders or influencers on your topic of choice.

Finally, Symplur encourages visitors to vote on hashtags that are most useful to them in hopes of brining multiple conversations together – meaning that you can vote on whether #infertility #fertility or #ttc provides the most relevant information for the topic for which you’re trying to pursue.

Cool, huh?


I think Twitter + medicine could have a beautiful future together, especially with research. We now have access to spontaneous, public comments and thoughts on healthcare. And, I personally think you could get a lot of good information out of that to help improve patient care, assess unmet needs, increase patient satisfaction, understand what concerns people have, and so on and so forth.

And, people have done that! See below:


People have also looked how accurate some tweets are.

NEWSFLASH: Some things you find on the internet are, indeed, false. So, remember to not believe everything you read.


Finaly, my piece de resistance (I can’t figure out how to get accents on my words!), my informed consent for social media.


And, one final plug — Mayo Clinic puts digital scholarship as part of its criteria for academic advancement. #tenure #professor


There was much more than this, but I thought I’d give you all some of the highlights!

Want to know my personal opinion? Ok, I’ll tell you.

I think that for physicians of my generation, who may have grown up on social media, having an online presence seems fairly normal. We’ve gotten used to broadcasting our lives, maybe developed thicker online skins over the years, and know the ins and outs of how to use all these apps and sites to our advantage. Being online and enmeshed in social media is somewhat of a skill set, I’ve come to learn (I just thought I was wasting time and brain cells in line at Whole Foods scanning Twitter all these years).

For physicians who are already in practice and not on social media, taking on a new skill set and “putting yourself out there” can be both frightening and challenging. At the end of a long clinic or OR day, a physician new to Twitter/Gram/FB may not want to sit down and figure out the best hashtag to describe his or her day.

However, I think it is important for all physicians to know what’s out there, because invariably out patients will be using the sites and apps. Meeting your patients halfway and understanding what they may have read may help you address their concerns a bit better.

In putting this presentation out there, what was most striking to me was how many people trust the internet more than their doctors.

Distrust in the medical system seems to be rampant these days. And, I can sometimes understand where people are coming from. Finding a good doctor can sometimes be difficult – one whom is both a good physician and with whom you get along with.

If we can’t stop out patients (and ourselves) from the using the internet, then why don’t we starting interacting and putting good information out there?

Let’s make the medical internet great again!

I think the ultimate point of my talk was that — while it may seem trivial and a waste of time, having a presence on the internet as a physician could be powerful. You can be a source of good information! Help people! And, that’s why we all became doctors, right?

Alright, that is all for now.

It’s 7:42 and I’m like “is it bedtime, yet?”

On another note, I got into the NYC Half. Anyone have a 3 day a week half marathon training plan that also gets you fast results? Much appreciated.

If you want some good medical advice from the internet, don’t forget to check out my friends’ website, Truly-MD. They were also on Lindsay Hein’s podcast today (“I’ll Have Another”). I thought it was awesome.

Finally, here’s one of my favorite sites for all things social media and medicine (as well as lots of other great content) –>  He (Dr. Vartabedian) gave me the line “visibility creates opportunity” through Twitter! [And, yes, I put him in my references, but I do that all on one slide at the end!]

That’s all for now.

Daily Coffee Tally: 3


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