By Eric Lawson, Masoom Desai and Aarti Sarwal
Over the last decade, social media has revolutionized the connectivity of our medical community by providing a global, easily accessible and dynamic platform to share information. It has transformed into a vital, multi-purpose and widely accepted healthcare resource by both medical professionals as well as lay citizens. The scope of social media extends from education about latest medical literature, discoveries and news; professional and social networking with direct access to peers and leaders across geographical boundaries, sharing new policies or healthcare guidelines; to connection with patients and the community through community awareness initiatives on these platforms.¹
This knowledge portal has created virtual communities leading multi-professional and multi-disciplinary exchange of clinically relevant and quality information to enhance informed practice decisions in the medical arena potentially influencing patient outcomes.² When was the last time in history we felt as empowered by the global spread of knowledge within minutes, connected across countries and boundaries as a “community” with our connections defined by likes, retweets and impressions?
Medical journals are increasingly using social media as a way to promote and engage a vaster audience by sharing information on publications in this virtual space. Use of digital platforms lends itself to instant sharing of content, exchange of perspectives on the topic and amplified critical thinking in the medical arena. Social media provides live, real-time feedback on the pulse of the community relevant to the journal, making it an inevitable tool in the marketing portfolio. Journals have their own “handles” (usernames) and their own topic-specific hashtags. The "likes" and "retweets" for articles have translated to online metrics called altmetrics complementary to traditional citation based scientific journal rankings like the impact factor. Journals are now competing for their subscribers' attention on new platforms with new rules and new language of handles and hashtags. How this enhanced connectivity across different social media platforms translates to enhanced science or submissions is yet to be seen, but the positive impact on increasing collaborations is unmistakably being felt.
To further the commitment of Neurocritical Care journal's strong global presence and engagement with a multidisciplinary following, the journal leadership embarked upon creating a social media strategy. A social media editor was recruited with the task of creating a team of social media ambassadors for the journal, each to be recruited with a unique perspective and experience to help foster discussion across social media and advocate medical education across these newer platforms. A social media ambassador team of diverse Neurocritical Care Society (NCS) members was established to create a widespread impact in the medical community and enhance the recognition of the work published in the journal.
This team has a goal of fostering a virtual community committed to sharing exciting new research published in Neurocritical Care through its Twitter account @neurocritcareJ. The team aims to promote captivating conversations on scholarly work from Neurocritical Care with the objective to boost the outreach of our field and create our own multi-professional and multi-dimensional neurocritical care “Twitter-verse” marked by the hashtag #NeuroCritCare. Two visual abstract editors were also recruited to create infographics for select articles with translations in Spanish and Portuguese by our ambassadors.
Learn more about Neurocritical Care's social media ambassadors:
Aarti Sarwal (@aartisarwal) was recruited to be the social media editor for Neurocritical Care. She further recruited a diverse social media ambassador team consisting of a resident, a pharmacist, an advance practice provider and two national and international physicians. She collaborates with the Neurocritical Care Editorial Board and the Neurocritical Care journal leadership to assist with the planning, execution and promotion of the social media strategy to amplify the network of Neurocritical Care. She also oversees the generation of posts on the @NeurocriticalJ Twitter account.
Masoom Desai (@ICU2EEG) is a neurointensivist and neurophysiologist who broadcasts cutting-edge and novel Neurocritical Care articles and promotes digital media usage in NCS members. Her motivation to use Twitter is to keep up-to-date with current developments, exchange medical knowledge and maintain professional networking.
Vasisht Srinivasan (@Vasisht) is an emergency medicine-trained neurointensivist who is a firm believer that effective use of social media can be an excellent tool for the rapid dissemination of information. He aptly points to the COVID-19 pandemic as an example of the ease with which medical knowledge can be shared for both consumption and discussion around the world. With his posts, he is careful to ensure the information being spread is both valid and based on guidelines and evidence.
Luis Moscote-Salazar (@iammoscote) is an international member of the team, neurosurgeon by training tweeting in both English and Spanish. He utilizes his bilingual abilities to help spread our outreach across borders. He enjoys promoting journal activities through his Spanish translations of tweets and infographics while stimulating his own academic interests in neurocritical care.
Eric Lawson (@EricLawson90) is the trainee member as a neurology resident and a neurocritical care enthusiast. His goal is to offer a trainee’s perspective on the research and to help engage other trainees in online discussions and learning. He hopes to use social media to enhance the education of trainees through periodic “Tweetorials” to help highlight basic concepts underlying the publications.
Diane McLaughlin (@dcm7200) is an advanced practice provider in neurocritical care and represents both advanced practice and nursing. She believes that neurocritical care will continue to advance through the sharing of information through social media and publication. She is active in clinical research and academia.
Keaton Smetana (@KeatonSmetana) is the pharmacist member of the ambassador team who is also the visual abstract editor. He uses social media to keep up with a broad range of journal articles, current issues and colleagues. As a neurocritical care pharmacist, he is in the unique position to incorporate a pharmacologic perspective across a multitude of disease states.
Roberta Teixeira Tallarico (@betatt81) is a Brazilian member of the team, tweeting in both English and Portuguese as a critical care physician. She is one of our two visual abstract editors. She believes medical information should be widely spread and social media can help in this mission. She is passionate about research and improving patient care based on trusted sources.
This team's efforts have led to the social media posting of all neurocritical care articles published in the last calendar year. We continue to post Tweetorials and lead discussions pertaining to newly published articles. When new articles are accepted, authors are encouraged to submit their social media handles so they may be tagged in the online dissemination of articles via social media.
In March 2020, we launched our first visual abstract infographic with a plan for this to be a consistent offering in the near future. Our team aims to bolster the commitment of the journal by encouraging submission of cutting-edge scholarly work submissions addressing neurocritical care issues in both clinical and basic science research. The altmetrics (social media activity rankings) suggest that we're generating more than 50,000 impressions for Neurocritical Care articles, indicating rapidly growing engagements with the dispersed articles. We also work closely with the NCS Marketing and Communications Committee Neurocritical Care Twitter Journal Club initiative that has been run since 2013.
We encourage you to share and celebrate the success of Neurocritical Care by following us on Twitter. Here are some tips to join the conversation:
- Please follow the Neurocritical Care journal Twitter account @NeurocritcareJ and use the hashtag #NeuroCritCare or #NeuroICU when posting articles from the Neurocritical Care.
- Please consider retweeting and sharing our posts to add to the value of the Neurocritical Care journal via your contributions.
- You can participate in the Twitter Journal Club by using the hashtag #NCSTJC. Look out for the article chosen for next Twitter Journal Club by following NCS social media posts on @Neurocritical.
- If you are bilingual and interesting in translating our visual abstracts into foreign languages for benefits of our international members, please contact us by messaging us at @NeuroCritCareJ.
Acknowledgements: A special thank you to Neurocritical Care founding Editor-in-Chief, Dr. Eelco Wijdicks, and current Editor-in-Chief, Dr. Michael Diringer, who shared a progressive vision of incorporating social media into the journal’s outreach strategy.