Social media at medical congresses

The American Society of Hematology (ASH) Annual Congress dedicated a special-interest session on social media in 2016, called ‘Social Media and Clinical Trials: Physicians, Pharma and Patients‘. The session focused on the increasingly important role of social media as a valuable means of communicating in science and medicine.

The session was led by leading Twitter hematologists, Joseph Mikhael, MD (@jmikhaelmd) of the Mayo Clinic, Scottsdale, AZ (@MayoClinic) and Michael Thompson, MD, PhD (@mtmdphd) of Aurora Health Care Milwaukee, WI (@Aurora_Cancer).

The panel explored a number of interesting and innovative uses for Twitter, including physician-patient discussions, and raising awareness of clinical trials and feeding trial recruitment. As well as looking at exciting new prospects, the experts addressed some of the challenges, such as privacy, ensuring ethical standards are maintained and protecting patient data.

After the session, we interviewed session co-chair Joseph Mikhael and panelist Irene Ghobrial, MD (@IreneGhobrial) for our sister journal VJHemOnc.


Medical tweet chats

Live, online discussions are a great opportunity to engage with a wider community. Investigators and physicians often say that they don’t have time to participate or engage on Twitter. Prof. Mikhael explains that with some preparation, a lot of people can be reached in just one hour.



Reaching potential clinical trial participants through social media

Dr Irene Ghobrial explains how she has used social media to help recruit patients for a clinical trial. They wanted to see patients with monoclonal gammopathy of unknown significance (MGUS) and smouldering myeloma. Instead of waiting for patients to come to the clinic, they decided to proactively reach out to patients who might benefit from the trial. They started to crowdsource patients and launched a website targeting patients with pre-cursor conditions, including MGUS or smouldering myeloma. The website allows potential trial participants to consent online and send off their samples. Within one year, Dr Ghobrial and her colleagues reached 700 patients with this method and they are optimistic that this number will continue to grow.



Prof. Mikhael adds to this; he describes how the question of using social media to reach out to patients and inform them about clinical trials was discussed at ASH 2016.


Using engaging, short-form video to educate to healthcare professionals

Prof. Mikhael also talked to us about another important development: the use of video by the online medical community. He highlights how important information can often be much better conveyed in a video format.



Why hematologists should use social media

Finally, here is a video with Dr Thompson encouraging hematologists to use social media. He addresses common reservations medical professionals might have about using social media and talks about its benefits.