Name: Hemant Shah, MD
Institution: University Health Network, University of Toronto, Toronto, Ontario, Canada
Find me on: Twitter — @hepatoMD
How do you use social media in your professional life?
I use social media in my professional life to interact with my colleagues in hepatology across the world. I am always surprised at how engaged and willing people are to dialogue about liver disease on social media. I also use it to stay up to date about hepatology research, policy activity, and my professional associations like AASLD. If you follow the right individuals, organizations and media outlets, you can hear about the full breadth of activity in liver disease globally, that you’d otherwise never know about. I also use social media to stay in touch with some of my trainees during and after their training, so that we can continue our learning partnership for an entire career.
What platforms bring you the most value and why?
I am partial to Twitter, because I find it easiest to use, and it has the most comprehensive user base. It is the best social media platform for widely engaged professionals in my opinion. It gives me everything I am looking for on social media — the ability to engage on medicine, politics, and other issues of importance to me. I also think I’m too old for Snapchat.
Why is it important for hepatologists and hepatology health care professionals to be on social media?
As a hepatologist, I have a responsibility to be engaged in the broader discussions happening in liver disease — whether it’s advocating for national policy changes, interpreting new research, or amplifying the voice of others. Social media, used responsibly, gives a unique opportunity to do that. I have had many of my patients tell me they agree (or disagree) with me, but it’s always improved our relationship because they see my passion for liver disease in a way that doesn’t come across in the clinic.
What tips do you have for your colleagues who want to get started on social media?
It’s important to remember that social media is a way to engage broadly, but not a way to provide patient care. So generally speaking, don’t dispense any medical advice over social media and don’t interact with individual patients. I am always careful to avoid posting (or retweeting) anything that could damage my professional reputation or get me in trouble with the regulators. That means reading everything you are about to post twice or three times. If you are looking for people to follow, on Twitter there is a hepatology group — start there. And finally, I suggest starting with one platform because it can eat up a lot of time. Enjoy!