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The American Society of Anesthesiologists is an educational, research and scientific association of physicians organized to raise and maintain the standards of the medical practice of anesthesiology and improve the care of the patient.

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March 1, 2013 Volume 77, Number 3
Join the #Anesthesiology Conversation Online Paul H. Ting, M.D.


While a large percentage of anesthesiologists use some form of social media in their personal lives to keep up with hobbies and interests and to stay in contact with family and friends, surveys show only a minority of anesthesiologists use social media as part of their professional lives. In addition, there are many anesthesiologists who do not use social media at all and may wonder what the benefits are. Why should social media interest you?

While the benefits of social media are many, there are three aspects especially relevant to any practicing anesthesiologist today. First, social media allows you to stay current and educated. Second, it allows you to engage and connect with others. Lastly, it provides the opportunity to advocate and communicate for yourself, your practice or organization, and your profession.

Education
The explosion of medical information is well documented. Many of us find it difficult to stay educated and current in our daily practice. Social media can help by allowing high-quality filtered and edited information to come directly to you, often with links and commentary attached. Of course, some effort is required to sort through the noise, but a careful compilation of sources means you will have easily accessed information and an efficient way to staying up to date no matter your location.

Connection
Staying up to date with educational and medical news does not require anything more than “lurking,” a term referring to those on social media who read information but do not “talk back.” Taking the next step in social media requires you to contribute your voice.

Social media allows an open and democratic forum for interaction. A community exists in social media where everyone who chooses to have a voice can. In practical terms, social media allows you to comment on study results, ask for input from others on an idea or tough clinical issue and discuss issues relevant to your practice.

Social media is an enabler of almost instant mass communication. There is nothing like asking hundreds of your peers for advice at once. Social media can be a very powerful tool to stay connected with leaders in anesthesiology and others who can provide knowledge and support. In addition, social media provides the opportunity to build relationships that would otherwise not exist or be difficult to maintain.

Communicate and Advocate
Your patients use social media, your competitors use social media, your hospital uses social media, and there is a reason for this. The ability to communicate a message can be a tremendous asset when used properly. With social media, you choose what and when you communicate and can reach a large audience with essentially no costs involved. Think “free marketing”:

n Market yourself by what you communicate about yourself. n Strengthen ties to your community or patient advocacy groups. n Send out educational information that can be read by patients. n Advocate for your profession by posting relevant opinions or editorials. n Communicate directly with leaders involved with crafting public policy (most politicians are involved with and pay attention to social media).
While social media can be a tremendous personal benefit to you, I believe the ability to utilize the strengths of social media professionally is even more important. It represents a very real opportunity to improve health care and the practice of medicine. When used properly, it allows us to stay current and educated, engage and connect with others, and advocate in a direct and effective way.

ASA Social Media Highlights
Over the past year, ASA’s social media networks have grown by more than 50 percent. ASA members continue to recognize the value of social media, as they frequently visit the society on Facebook, LinkedIn and YouTube for all the anesthesiology-related information and news they need to know.

During 2012, ASA continued to increase its social media presence through a variety of initiatives to not only reach members, but educate the public on the important role of anesthesiologists inside and outside of the operating room.

ANESTHESIOLOGY™ 2012 annual meeting
At the ANESTHESIOLOGY™ 2012 annual meeting, attendees communicated with one another throughout the meeting on Twitter. Real-time “tweets” or messages 140 characters or less, provided attendees with the opportunity to be in more than one place at one time.

Twitter boards placed throughout the convention center showed all tweets using the meeting hashtag #ANES2012. Thanks to the large amount of attendees tweeting, messages appeared on the boards by the minute.

The ASA Social Media Team also hosted several contests for members to participate in during the meeting, including recognizing members who used the meeting hashtag and submitted creative ANESTHESIOLOGY™ 2012 annual meeting photos.

KevinMD.com
ASA continued to contribute to a monthly guest column on the leading health blog KevinMD.com. Several ASA committees helped develop content for the blog on a wide variety of topics, such as how to green the operating room, the value of anesthesiologist assistants, critical care and obstetric anesthesiology, physician burnout and physician-led pain care.

Sharecare Launch
In 2012, ASA joined Sharecare, a health and wellness social media platform that connects the public with top-ranking medical experts. A group of five ASA member volunteers have helped answer more than 135 anesthesiology-related questions on Sharecare. ASA plans to further its involvement with the health care-focused social media site over the next year ht.ly/gCehO.

Wikipedia Revamp
The Committee on Patient Safety and Education recently helped revamp ASA’s Wikipedia page to include more robust information. The page now includes sections on ASA’s history, membership, governance, meetings and publications. Patient-focused information on anesthesiologists’ education and training also is featured on the page ht.ly/gCelH.

Interactive Podcasts and Videos
Newly added YouTube videos cover a wide variety of topics, including the self-management of chronic pain, obesity and anesthesia, and anesthesia care teams. In addition, ASA has vastly grown its podcast efforts. Recordings from the ANESTHESIOLOGY™ 2012 annual meeting and recordings with study authors from the journal Anesthesiology are available on the ASA website youtube.com/lifelinepatients, ht.ly/gCesj.

If you haven’t already, join the conversation online and network with colleagues through ASA’s social media networks. We look forward to connecting with you!

If you have questions about ASA’s social media efforts, please contact the ASA Communications Department at communications@asahq.org.


Paul H. Ting, M.D. is an anesthesiologist, Albemarle Anesthesia, PLC, and with Martha Jefferson Hospital, Charlottesville, Virginia.


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