Social Media in the Urology Practice: Yes or No?

Social Media in the Urology Practice: Yes or No?

Marcelo Langer Wroclawski, MD, MsC
1) Hospital Israelita Albert Einstein – São Paulo – Brazil
2) BP – a Beneficência Portuguesa de São Paulo – Brazil

As part of #UroSoMe working group, I was invited by the International Brazilian Journal of Urology editor, Prof. Sidney Glina, to address the use of “Social Media in the Urology Practice”, writing about advantages and concerns of this “new way” of interaction among physicians and patients.

In the “Difference of opinion” section, two groups were formed. Dr. Mateus Cosentino Bellote, from Brazil, led the international team that argued in favor of social media (SoMe). On the other hand, Rodrigo Donalisio Da Silva, from the United Sates, organized a multi-national collaboration to list controversial topics.

The “NO” paper summarizes each main SoMe characteristics, showing that it may be challenging to understand their particularities (1). On the other hand, the “YES” paper highlights that the great majority of physicians already use some kind of social media and those platforms are changing the way people exchange experiences (2). The review shows that SoMe is more frequently used by residents and fellows, and that Facebook is most popular platform among physicians, followed by LinkedIn and Twitter, but less than 1/3 use that for professional issues.

Specific views were analyzed according to scientific, physicians’ and patients’ issues. (Figure 1)

Figure 1: Relation of different players with SoMe

As scientific aspects are discussed, one must point out that journals that have a Twitter profile develop a higher impact factor. The most prominent urological journals have their Twitter accounts (Figure 2). On the other hand, there are some concerns involving the use of SoMe. Conferences, lectures and slides content are often widely shared but specific copyright issues must be respected (Figure 3). Problems may arise when authors post the content of their manuscripts without the journal’s permission. Conversely, meetings have their own hashtags and journals are encouraging the use of SoMe.

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Figure 2: Some urological Journals with a Twitter account

Figure 3: 2019 AUA presentation being shared on Twitter (In this case, work presented by my resident and content shared by myself)

For physicians, SoMe is a rich environment with networking, research, and learning opportunities. Complex cases are discussed individually or in a scheduled online event (Figure 4), real time exchange of ideas and information during conferences among attendants and non-attendants are stimulated, study collaborations are initiated (Figure 5) and articles are analyzed (Journal Clubs) (Figure 6). On the other hand, everything published will be publicly accessible, which means that other physicians, patients and the general population will have access to these information, and the person publishing it may be exposing himself and/or others.

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Figure 4: Case Discussion

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Figure 5: SoMe International Multi-centre work on Emphysematous Pyelonephritis presented at the 2019 SIU meeting

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Figure 6: Prostate cancer journal club

Patients may be largely beneficiated by social media. Almost 70% of the patients search for medical information in the SoMe universe. Patient support groups can share their experiences and provide important advices. Professional institutions and organizations may also help with relevant orientations for the lay population. However, there can be a vulnerable group of people who is susceptible to a major risk of receiving biased, low quality or erroneous information that may lead them to take erroneous decisions regarding their treatment. Another negative point is that patient’s’ privacy may be exposed.

So, Social Media in the Urology Practice: Yes or No? In my opinion, the answer is obvious. There are much more pros than cons. However, we must pay attention to all ethical and legal aspects that may be involved when using SoMe.

References:

1.         Da Silva RD, Leow JJ, Abidin ZA, Linden-Castro E, Castro EIB, Blanco LT, et al. Social Media in the Urology Practice | Opinion: NO. International braz j urol : official journal of the Brazilian Society of Urology. 2019;45(5):882-8.

2.         Bellote MC, Santamaria HT, Pelayo-Nieto M, Es HP, Gadzhiev N, Gudaru K. Social Media in the Urology Practice | Opinion: YES. International braz j urol : official journal of the Brazilian Society of Urology. 2019;45(5):877-81.