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Bringing the geriatric medicine community online, one tweet at a time

Toronto, September 22, 2017

By Skaidra Puodziunas

Drs. Laura Budd and Camilla Wong engage in a #GeriMedJC Twitter discussion
Drs. Laura Budd (left) and Camilla Wong engage in a #GeriMedJC Twitter discussion at the Elders’ Clinic while colleague Dr. Amanda Gardhouse tunes in online via FaceTime. (Photo by Yuri Markarov)

Dr. Camilla Wong, a geriatrician at St. Michael’s Hospital is encouraging the geriatric medicine community to expand its horizons and embrace social media.

When the geriatric medicine journal club at the University of Toronto holds its monthly meetings, Dr. Wong and her team simultaneously live-tweet the proceedings through the handle @GeriMedJC and hashtag #GeriMedJC. This offers people who are not able to attend the in-person meeting an option to participate online.

“We’ve been able to connect thought leaders and allied experts in the small, geriatric space, that may never have connected in the physical world,” said Dr. Wong.

What began as an informal project grew into a formal part of the club, explained Dr. Wong.

“We noticed increased engagement levels from participants internationally which led us to formalize the use of Twitter and publicize it ahead of time, personally inviting featured journal club authors to join in,” she said. “We even created how-to-guides for colleagues and allied organizations interested in joining the platform.”

Beyond the journal club, the #GeriMedJC hashtag has engaged multiple audiences interested in geriatric health, explained Dr. Wong.

   
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The team behind the @GeriMedJC Twitter handle built a following of more than 1,300 users from six continents including physicians, health advocacy organizations, trainees and allied health practitioners.

“This has forced us to think more creatively and has infused an interdisciplinary way of thinking,” she said. “It also highlights there are multiple ways to solve the same geriatric health problem.”

The conversations on Twitter have also translated to real-world connections for geriatricians across Canada and abroad, said Dr. Amanda Gardhouse, a geriatrician at the Leacock Care Centre in Orillia, Ont.

“Twitter has helped break the ice for geriatric professionals,” she said. “For example, just recently at the 37th Canadian Geriatric Society Annual Scientific Meeting, we connected with other geriatric professionals because of discussions we’d had on social media.”

Both Drs. Gardhouse and Wong are avid users of social media and said it’s important for the broader scientific community to embrace platforms such as Twitter.

“There’s a lot of misinformation that occupies the social media space,” said Dr. Wong. “I truly feel as a scientist I have an academic and moral obligation to promote the integrity of science online.”

About St. Michael's Hospital

St. Michael’s Hospital provides compassionate care to all who enter its doors. The hospital also provides outstanding medical education to future health care professionals in more than 29 academic disciplines. Critical care and trauma, heart disease, neurosurgery, diabetes, cancer care, care of the homeless and global health are among the Hospital’s recognized areas of expertise. Through the Keenan Research Centre and the Li Ka Shing International Healthcare Education Centre, which make up the Li Ka Shing Knowledge Institute, research and education at St. Michael’s Hospital are recognized and make an impact around the world. Founded in 1892, the hospital is fully affiliated with the University of Toronto.