Find out more about how nephrologists can use Twitter to improve nephrology education and kidney care.
This year’s Kidney Week took a look at all of the social media platforms clinicians can use to help further the field of nephrology—including Twitter. Find out more about how clinicians can use this platform from these emerging abstracts.
#AskRenal: Use of an Automated Twitter Account to Crowdsource Nephrology Queries
Twitter has the potential to change medical industry communication just as it changed social interactions. Through the platform, users can instantly connect and collaborate with professionals and solve problems. One of the key challenges is how to elevate the voice of a single user who has only a few followers and ensure their questions don’t get lost in Twitter’s algorithm. A recent study looked at the effectiveness of using a dedicated hashtag to help organize and amplify questions asked on the platform.
The hashtag #AskRenal was created to carve out a place within Twitter for nephrology questions and answers. The Twitter account @AskeRenal was created along with a bot that would retweet messages that used the hashtag.
The study looked at posts between December 2016 and August 2020. Duplicated messages and Tweets not relevant to the topic were omitted. A group of medical professionals studied a sample of the Tweets and answered a 10-question survey.
Of the 17,704 Tweets that used the hashtag #AskRenal, 3099 were included in the survey analysis. The key data points include:
- 40 percent of questions were posted by users with <1,000 followers
- 9 percent were from students and trainees
- 75 percent of the questions got a response
- 69 percent of questions asked were answered within 6 hours
- 83 percent found the answers they received helpful
Researchers concluded that the hashtag and automated bot response was effective for getting nephrology questions answered in a timely fashion. They noted that an increase in the number of followers had little impact on getting a response and the communication power of Twitter can clearly be harnessed for use within the healthcare community.
Tweeting a Path to Communication Success: What Nephrology Training Programs Are Sharing on Twitter
For nephrology training programs, Twitter is an important tool for communication. This social media platform not only impacts recruitment, but training programs rely on this platform to reach generations of learners who are connected via social media. what are some of the most common patterns and subjects US nephrology training programs have seen on Twitter? One study aimed to answer that question.
In that study, researchers collected tweets from nephrology training programs known to have Twitter accounts over a period of 40 months. They then reviewed a small corpus of tweets to establish the five most common themes.
This small corpus included 33,112 tweets from 78 of the 149 domestic adult nephrology training programs, and they were assessed between the period of August 2018 and December 2021. After this assessment, researchers found the following:
- Twitter activity for these programs ranged from 2 to 2,265 tweets per program
- Four programs authored 25 percent of tweets
- 42 percent of the tweets contained original content, and 58 percent were retweets
The tweets were then placed into five separate categories:
- 12 percent were classified as Advocacy/DEI
- 2 percent were classified as Work/Life Balance
- 22 percent were classified as Professional Development
- 45 percent were classified as either Self or Program Promotion
- 42 percent were classified as Medical Knowledge
Even though using social media platforms such as Twitter can be challenging, more than half of the activity on this platform comes from retweets, which can provide a reprieve to busy clinicians and help bolster struggling nephrology training programs.