Doctors in the United States are focusing their energy on social media to ensure that timely, accurate, and authoritative information about the COVID-19 virus reaches their required audiences.
Doctors and other front-liners all over the world have to deal not just with increasing numbers of patients, but also with the growing number of disinformation on the internet nowadays.
Given the fact that everyone engages with one form of social media or another, medical personnel has identified these online platforms as a new battleground for them to cover.
Doctors use Twitter every single day
Ali Raja, a Harvard Medical School assistant professor and the executive vice chair of Massachusetts General Hospital’s department of emergency medicine, uses Twitter at least for an hour a day to reduce the impact of an increasingly noisy social media landscape.
— Ali S. Raja, MD, MPH, MBA (@AliRaja_MD) April 2, 2020
With 57,000 followers, Raja is confident that he would be able to reach many people on social media. The doctor from Massachusetts shares information about the pandemic, as well as thoughts on having personal protective equipment (PPEs) for health workers and the importance of social distancing, among other things.
Meanwhile, Rick Pescatore, a medical emergency doctor from Philadelphia, always goes on Facebook and Twitter to provide timely and informative updates about the novel coronavirus. He also voices his opinions on Twitter regarding the current healthcare system.
Testing right now is a sad and terrible game of Whack-A-Mole, beset by shortages, reagent availability, and so much more.
As soon as one problem is solved—e.g., no swabs to collect samples or media within which to transport them—another pops up (extraction reagent shortages).
— Rick Pescatore, DO (@Rick_Pescatore) April 2, 2020
Both doctors have also stated that they also use social media platforms to learn more from their respective colleagues.
Going with the flow with TikTok
Both nurses and physicians have used TikTok to disseminate information about the coronavirus.
Dr. Rose Marie Leslie, a resident doctor at the University of Minnesota Medical School, created numerous TikTok clips that demonstrated proper handwashing practices and answering questions relating to COVID-19.
@drleslieStill unclear yet if the general public should wear masks!!!! ##masks ##mask ##sewing ##info ##facts ##cdc ##fyp♬ original sound – drleslie
She said that her main aim is to ensure that people get their facts from correct sources, while at the same time “put it in a way that’s palatable, that’s quick nuggets of information presented in a short way.”
Another front-liner, registered nurse Miki Rai, created a viral TikTok video creatively demonstrating proper handwashing.
@mikiraiofficialBe careful with your amazon prime packages! Wash your hands ##covid19 ##fyp♬ WOAH remix – raullcabello2
Overall trends in use of social media
Today, the medical profession has embraced social media more than ever. And it seems the trend is spreading to other doctors around the world.
The rise of #MedTwitter has also shown that both the medical and its allied fields have overcome their perceived dislike and fear of social media, and are able to use these platforms to enable colleagues and stakeholders from around the world to share best practices and learn new techniques in order to combat a pandemic that has affected hundreds of thousands of people around the world.