An Introduction and Guide to Becoming a Social Media Savvy Nephrologists

Natasha N. Dave; Matthew A. Sparks; Samira S. Farouk


Nephrol Dial Transplant. 2022;37(1):14-20. 

In This Article

Potential Pitfalls

The praises of social media in nephrology must be balanced with the concern for important drawbacks, which include misinformation, time consumption and permanence. The Internet is a vast ocean of information and within seconds, an answer to virtually any question can be found. Unfortunately, 'an answer' may not always be 'the correct answer'. False claims and deceptive sources exist and can be difficult to discern. Verification of educational materials, even from trusted sources, is critical. An elegant solution to the spread of misinformation on social media is social media itself.[47–49] Social media users themselves can initiate dialogue to verify shared claims. The perception of excessive time consumption may present a barrier when considering social media use. Though social media platforms have dramatically simplified consumption of nearly anything, this consumption takes time and may be addictive.[50]

Finally, it is critical that all interactions online remain professional. Virtual communities must be treated no different than real-life situations. Any unprofessional behavior can be rapidly distributed, even after deletion, and has the potential to damage the reputation of the user as well as their practice or institution. Digital permanence should be considered prior to posting any online content. In addition, social media content may be misinterpreted or viewed by an unintended audience (e.g. employer, patients, lawyers). Patient confidentiality is of utmost importance and should be protected at all costs by healthcare professionals who engage in public, online scientific discussions. Patient identifiers should be removed and one must obtain consent prior to posting any media from patients. Physicians who use social media should also adhere to employer, governmental and institutional policies. Understanding these drawbacks and taking preventative measures is key to a successful social media presence.