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Department of Radiology launches @StanfordImaging Twitter feed

The medical school's Department of Radiology recently launched a Twitter account - @StanfordImaging - to highlight the work of the academic department and to engage physicians outside Stanford. The feed is curated by Stanford resident Jared Narvid, MD. In this Q&A, Narvid discusses the motivation for starting the feed and what @StanfordImaging hopes to contribute to the medical conversation.

What was the catalyst for creating a Twitter feed for the School of Medicine's Department of Radiology?

The idea grew out of a discussion at our monthly residents' meeting where program director Terry Desser, MD, asked how social media tools such as Facebook and Twitter might enhance the residency. There were varying opinions, but I thought it might be useful to expose more people to our department and the field of radiology, as well as to communicate internally within our department. So I asked Dr. Desser and department chair Gary Glazer, MD, for the green light to start at Twitter feed. With the help of the School of Medicine's Office of Communications and Public Affairs, we were up and running in a few days.

Why did Department of Radiology feel it was important to use Twitter?

Our department has historically been an advocate for the field of radiology through its academic mission, developing the latest imaging techniques and advancing a new minimally invasive treatment. Twitter offers a way for the department to communicate directly with patients and fellow doctors and to help the public better understand radiologists' role in health care delivery. Personally, I love the idea and challenge of sharing information in 140-character bites.

What perspective does @StanfordImaging hope to offer?

The Department of Radiology is a very busy and productive academic unit. There is a tremendous amount of ongoing research, and @StanfordImaging is one way to communicate new ideas and results. In addition, many of us believe medical care might be improved by both doctors and patients being more familiar with the specialty. So, as a secondary goal, I would like @StanfordImaging to improve awareness of our profession and hopefully humanize it a bit.

There has been a fair amount of discussion about the benefits of researchers, doctors and health-care providers using social tools to share information and foster communication among professionals and the public. As a resident physician, what are your thoughts on the potential of social media tools such as Twitter to spark public dialogue about medical and health issues?

One comment I have heard repeatedly is that Twitter is more or less a medium of gossip and inconsequential electronic "chatter." But, in reality, I get a lot of my news from New York Times, CNN and Economist headlines through Twitter. So I think it very much can be a medium for serious discussion. Additionally, people often make judgments about the quality of a person or institution based on their web presence. I have a feeling that if a physician appears to be more responsive on social media then it may make patients feel more comfortable working with [him or her].

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