Social Media and Clinicians: Interview with Pasquale Santangeli, MD

Interview by Jodie Elrod
Interview by Jodie Elrod

In the newest installment of this continuing article series on EP clinicians and Twitter, EP Lab Digest® speaks with Pasquale Santangeli, MD from the Electrophysiology Section, Cardiovascular Division of the Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania, in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. He can be found on Twitter at @Dr_Santangeli. 

When did you join Twitter? What were your reasons for joining?

I joined Twitter less than a year ago. Overall, I was impressed by the interactive capability of Twitter, which is one of the most powerful tools to share and discuss the latest news in EP research with colleagues from all over the world.

How often do you contribute to Twitter? How much time would you say you spend on Twitter?  

Typically I post comments on scientific articles on a weekly basis. However, I check tweets daily; I found this to be a good way to stay updated in real time with the latest news in cardiology. 

Up until now, I used newsletters from different websites and journals, but with Twitter, you can have all of the updates you want in real time and in a single online application. I think this is a major advantage that Twitter has over other online-based applications.

When do you find are the busiest times of day or night on Twitter?

For me, weekends tend to be busier; during the week, I do not have much time left after my clinical and research duties.

Do you mainly utilize a mobile phone, laptop, or tablet when on Twitter?

I mostly use my mobile phone, and very rarely, my laptop. I am planning to change my contribution to Twitter in the near future. I have been recently appointed as Online Editor of the Journal of Interventional Cardiac Electrophysiology (JICE), and have created a new Twitter account (@JICE_EP) with the support of Editor-in-Chief Dr. Sanjeev Saksena. Therefore, the time that I will spend on Twitter with my laptop will likely increase, since we are planning to implement this account to share the latest news from JICE and increase the discussion on the latest scientific topics with other members of the EP community. I will also be highlighting important articles with clinical and scientific impact, and there will be limited-time open access to these articles from the latest issues. Readers can send their thoughts and comments by Twitter or on the Facebook page of JICE. It was important for us to implement a serious social media presence, particularly for those who do not have institutional library access, have limited time to catch up on the latest information, or are in regions of the world where JICE has social media access but limited subscribership.

Tell us about what your experience has been like so far. What aspects of Twitter do you enjoy?

As mentioned, the aspect of Twitter I enjoy the most is its unique capability of including all the updates I want to have in a single application. Every day I check tweets and can quickly access all necessary information (e.g., articles, media, etc.) directly from the Twitter application.

Are you also involved with other social media such as Facebook or a blog?

I only use social media to stay updated with the latest news in cardiology, and I think Twitter is the best application we have so far to serve that purpose. In fact, Twitter is the only global information network that allows an instantaneous sharing of ideas and information. I have never had a personal Facebook account or a blog.

What “hot” EP topics do you find are currently or most often trending on Twitter? What kind of content do you usually share on Twitter?

I often discuss with my Twitter colleagues the controversial topics in EP; for example, we recently had an interesting discussion on the role of renal denervation for the treatment of atrial fibrillation. We also comment on the most recent studies or news from scientific conferences.

What Twitter feeds do you enjoy following? 

I follow everything that involves updates in EP, including latest news from published studies, ongoing clinical trials, and news from scientific conferences.

What steps do you take to safeguard privacy and protect yourself legally? Does your hospital have a social media policy in place for employees? 

All my Tweets reflect my own views and, as such, are not subject to regulations by my hospital. I only discuss science and the latest updates in EP.

What advice you can offer to other electrophysiologists who might be considering joining? What do those who are starting out need to know?

I have no particular advice to my colleagues that are planning to join Twitter. I would simply encourage anyone in the EP community to join, in order to improve the interaction as well as increase communication and the sharing of ideas. 

What considerations should a physician keep in mind when maintaining an online presence?

It is important to note that as a general rule, tweets are subject to any form of quality check; therefore, the quality and/or accuracy of the information cannot be verified. In addition, Twitter has the capability of linking different hashtags, marked with the # symbol, in order to alert users to conversations taking place online. Sometimes, hashtags can be deceiving, and again, the quality of the information posted should always be verified, particularly when it refers to something unpublished and/or not subject to peer review.

Discuss the role that social media is playing in medicine today. Why is it important for physicians to recognize this social trend? What are the future applications for social media and medicine?

I believe that social media represents a unique tool to share information and ideas and to stay updated with the latest news in science. However, challenges remain in the development of a definite role for social media in medicine. In particular, we should be aware of the risk of reporting bias, misinformation, and inaccuracy that stem from the lack of a systematic method for quality check. If used correctly, social media can have a huge impact on medicine; however, we will need objective data to evaluate whether systematic implementation of social media in medicine has any value in improving real-world outcomes and/or impacting the quality (and pace) of evidence-based medicine.