Expert Insight: Why Interventional Cardiologists Should be on Twitter

Mamas A. Mamas, BM, BCh, MA, DPhil, FRCP


June 19, 2018

Hi, my name is Mamas Mamas. I'm a professor of interventional cardiology based at Keele University, Stoke on Trent and today I wanted to discuss social media in interventional cardiology.

Social media has really grown over the past few years. If you look at utilisation in countries such as the US, a large number of opinion leaders and fellows in training, use social media. However, interestingly, in the UK, its adoption has been less widespread. So I guess one of the questions and why you're watching this is, what happens on social media? Why should I use social media as an interventional cardiologist? Well, I can give you my personal experience which has been formed over the past 18 months or so. I think social media has been a complete revolution for my personal learning perspective. In social media, in interventional cardiology, every week individuals from all over the world are able to post cases, and posting cases may result in cases involving complications, interesting cases, but also cases where the management plan is less clear. Now the beauty of posting cases is almost like an MDT [multi-disciplinary team]. It's not like an MDT that takes place in your hospital, it's an international MDT. So often when I've posted these cases looking at a diagnostic question or an interesting case I’ll have tens, maybe 50, a hundred replies from all over the world from other well-known interventional cardiologists, and it's a superb way of learning in interventional cardiology, getting experience from other operators from all over the world.

I think that another key part of social media is interactions, interactions with colleagues from across the planet. So I talk almost on a daily basis with colleagues from the United States, from Egypt, from Germany, Spain, Saudi Arabia, and so forth, where we're discussing the latest data, latest techniques, and so forth, in interventional cardiology. I've made lots of friendships with these individuals, but also importantly, scientific collaboration. So we're collaborating with a number of these international interventional cardiologists around a number of research projects, particularly around big data, which is one of my main interests.

I think social media also flattens the playing field, irrespective of seniority. So for example, you have quite junior fellows in training in interventional cardiology interacting with experts in the field, so people like Jeff Moses [Professor of Medicine at Columbia University Medical Center], people like Gregg Stone [Director of Cardiovascular Research and Education Columbia University Medical Center], and so forth.

And I think the other part of social media is the importance in being able to discuss scientific developments. For example, in the traditional publication model of research, a paper is published and there may be an editorial, there may be a discussion or debate at an interventional congress. Social media has completely changed the landscape around this. So for example, one of the most talked about trials over the past year or so is the ORBITA trial.[1] It was published in The Lancet. It had an editorial, it's been discussed in a few conferences. But the discussion over social media has been amazing. You have people that have gone through the trial, dissected it. Discussion with the lead authors, backwards and forwards. It's a really great opportunity to really dig deep into the trial, quiz the authors, and really debate about the implications of this trial on practice.

I think social media has really also enabled changes in the way conferences are viewed. In the past people would only really hear what's happening at conferences by either attending the conference itself, or perhaps reading an overview on websites, like Medscape or TCTMD. Social media has completely changed that. So for example, even though I was unable to attend the ACC this year, every day, I was able to read large threads of the discussions going on at ACC. I was able to see live cases through Periscope, look at talks, again live through Periscope. And it's really changed the way that individuals interact at conferences as well. So even though individuals may be at the same conference, you put a tweet on, there's a whole discussion and debate around the content of the talk and so forth. So I think it really has added value to the conference for an interventional cardiology community in my view.

I think there are downsides to social media as well. There's downsides around privacy. I think it's important to maintain patient privacy and there are now applications that enable the safe deposit of cases out of the public arena that maintain patients’ privacy. I think there's danger, and it's very much recommended against giving medical advice on social media. And certainly you often don't know about the background of the individuals that you interact with, although the vast majority of cardiologists are well known colleagues that you see on almost a daily basis at the conferences. So I think being able to interact with them over social media is incredibly useful.

And I think overall, it really widens one's perspective of the field. Working as an interventional cardiologist, you know, I'm fortunate to work in the Royal Stoke [University Hospital, Stoke on Trent]. We have 11 other interventional cardiologists. I can discuss cases with them. I can discuss literature with them. But that's only with 11 people. Over social media, I discuss, you know, cases, latest research, practice, with thousands of interventional cardiologists all over the globe. So it's almost as if I've brought all these interventional cardiologists into my living room. So I think that to me, is one of the great, great advantages of social media. And that to me is one of the reasons I would certainly advocate, as a practising interventional cardiologist, that you should join it. I mean, there's certainly many of us in the UK and it’ll be great if there's more.

Maybe you can post below and tell us what you think.

You can follow Mamas Mamas on Twitter


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