Social Media and the Critical Care Professional

2016 - 1 February - Technological Game Changers
Ken Tegtmeyer, MD; Anthony Gerlach, PharmD, BCPS, FCCP, FCCM
Drs. Tegtmeyer and Gerlach present examples of how the medical community and the Society of Critical Care Medicine have embraced social media.


At the Society of Critical Care Medicine (SCCM), we are embracing social media to broaden our reach and encourage interaction with education both during the annual Congress and year round. This interaction will occur in many areas, but we would like to emphasize two primary fronts: the new SCCM Journal Club on Twitter, using hashtag #SCCMJC, and the enhanced Twitter interaction we used at Congress this past February in Orlando, Florida, USA.

Social media is a powerful tool that can create a real-time community discussion across the globe on any topic at any time.(1) For example, during the tragic Ebola outbreak in 2014, the world connected and learned from one another through social media in real time instead of learning in traditional ways, such as through medical conferences and journals.(2) Social media is increasingly used as an education tool for clinicians, healthcare students and even laypeople. Because of this, SCCM created a Social Media Task Force.

One goal of the Social Media Task Force is to organize, moderate and participate in an online journal club. Twitter-based journal clubs can provide a free, time-efficient means to discuss clinically important issues.(3) They can promote high-level discussions of these issues and allow for equal participation by all users. The hashtag #SCCMJC was developed to allow participants to easily link to SCCM’s Journal Club conversations, and to contribute to the conversation or just follow along. The first Journal Club was held  in October 2015, the second in December 2015. Other Journal Clubs are being planned for the upcoming months.

Twitter use at medical meetings has been growing over the years. Attendees, when allowed, have been tweeting presentations to their followers. These tweets sometimes consist of speaker quotes and often include presentation slides. Twitter allows the tweeter to share knowledge with all his/her followers. There is a large medical Twitter community, with many mutual followers. Free Open Access Meducation, using the hashtag #FOAMed, is a movement dedicated to increased sharing of medical knowledge. Tweets from lectures can serve as an archive for the lecture, a prompt for discussion or even a platform for interaction with the speaker.

There is a growing group of Congress attendees who actively tweet from the meeting. In Phoenix, Arizona, USA, in 2015, 618 participants sent out more than 4,700 tweets during the week of Congress.(4) These tweets generated more than six million impressions. Impressions are how many times a tweet is seen by followers. This year, in Orlando, we introduced something new. Select speakers at Congress agreed to participate in Twitter-moderated talks. They automatically tweeted their talks, and a moderator from the Social Media Task Force moderated the tweets, and pulled comments and questions from them. There was also a session on how to effectively tweet from a conference or lecture. Twitter participation at Congress in Orlando more than tripled to almost 14,500 tweets by 1,722 participants and generated 19.7 million impressions.(5) We encourage you to explore and participate.


1. Steele SR, Arshad S, Bush R, et al. Social media is a necessary component of surgery practice. Surgery. 2015 Sep;158(3):857-862.
2. Goff DA, Kullar R, Newland JG. Review of Twitter for infectious diseases clinicians: useful or a waste of time? Clin Infect Dis. 2015 May 15;60(10):1533-1540.
3. Roberts MJ, Perera M, Lawrentschuk N, Romanic D, Papa N, Bolton D. Globalization of continuing professional development by journal clubs via microblogging: a systematic review. J Med Internet Res. 2015 Apr 23;17(4):e103.
4. Symplur Healthcare Hashtag Project #CCC44. Accessed December 21, 2015
5. Symplur Healthcare Hashtag Project #CCC45. Accessed March 3, 2016