Twitter. No longer a place to just share memes and gifs and funny cat videos. If you read part one of our pathologists and social media series, you learned that live-tweeting is no longer just a trend, it’s commonplace and arguably required for pathologists to make the most of conventions. In part two, we are covering the very impressive #EBUSTwitter study and Twitter chats organized by various groups and organizations. This is an exciting post, so let’s jump right in!
Perhaps one of the most novel uses of Twitter was a multi-institutional, international study with 24 pathologists from 14 institutions and 5 countries conducted entirely through Twitter.1 And it all started with one tweet. Dr. Lara Pijuan (@lara_pijuan) tweeted about her case: post–endobronchial ultrasound (EBUS) cartilage found within a sampled lymph node. Dr. Sanjay Mukhopadhyay (@smlungpathguy) responded asking if anyone would be interested in doing a study about endobronchial ultrasound– guided transbronchial needle aspiration (EBUS-TBNA) changes in mediastinal lymph nodes. And thus a study was born.
The study participants created their own hashtag - #EBUSTwitter. Because this hashtag was used in all tweets pertaining to the study, it not only kept the participating pathologists up to speed but it provided transparency to any Twitter user who wanted to follow the study in real time. This transparency helps in the sharing of ideas and expertise on behalf of pathologists and furthers research efforts by generating accelerated interest in the study within a public domain. Within 9 days of announcing the study through Twitter, the tweet garnered over 14,000 impressions. When the tweet announcement was made that it was accepted for publication, the result was over 500,000 impressions.2 The interest in this study was loud and proud as evidenced by the number of impressions.
When you take into account the global scale of this study, the speed at which the pathologists moved was quite impressive. The time interval between study conception, the gathering and analyzing of 297 cases, and acceptance of the manuscript for publication in The American Journal of Surgical Pathology (@AJSPjournal) was 346 days. This study is believed to be the first time that a social media platform has been used to generate a research idea based on a tweet, as well as recruit coinvestigators publicly, communicate with collaborating pathologists, and successfully complete a pathology study.3 Countless doors are now opened for global collaboration. Utilizing a virtual platform, pathologists from resource-limited regions have the opportunity to participate in substantial, timely scientific research with experts from across the globe. Studies are no longer confined to in-person connections but rather the connection of the love for pathology and scientific discovery. And other than a pathologist’s time and expertise, no cost is incurred conducting a global study. Think of all the pathology pearls that exist, just waiting to be discovered! #EBUSTwitter proved that any study is possible, without regard to pathologists’ locations or cost.
Key to this study was utilizing the #EBUSTwitter hashtag for communication. Pathology groups, publications and mentors are also using hashtags to conduct Twitter chats with medical students, pathology subspecialists and generally anyone who wants to learn more about pathology (like us!). Twitter chats are useful in furthering the field of pathology in that it offers real-time sharing of images, ideas, opinions and expertise which can be applied to real-life cases or simply offer gems of knowledge to be conjured up at a later time (like during an exam). One example is #Path2Path from @TeamPathology which connects expert pathologists with medical students interested in pursuing a career in pathology. Through this informal chat forum, pathologists are able to provide advice, support and mentorship with students they would not traditionally come into contact with. Again, virtual connections can be as vital as in-person discussions. Even journals are initiating live chat sessions with its readers. Cancer Cytopathology (@CancerCytopath) frequently has #cytochat sessions which brings together experts from around the world and from various subspecialties to discuss relevant topics in the cytopathology world. The first online dermatopathology Twitter journal club @DermpathJC uses the hashtag #dermpathJC for its monthly virtual meetup. This platform provides a meetup for the live exchange of content and ideas between dermatopathologists, pathology/dermatology residents, medical students on pathology electives, and any pathologists or dermatologists from around the world with an interest in dermatopathology.4
And we must talk about the Digital Pathology Association (@dpatweet) and College of American Pathologists (@pathologists) Twitter chats. Digital Pathology Association has regular #DPAtweet chats where they converse about emerging trends in the digital pathology space with leading pathologists like Dr. Marilyn Bui (@DrBuiPathology) and Dr. Liron Pantanowitz (@PathPro). College of American Pathologists and its #capchat has been very successful bringing together pathologists to discuss various topics important to pathologists like COVID-19 laboratory testing and how pathologists can leverage digital pathology and AI. Both organizations have done phenomenal jobs providing an inviting, inclusive space for education, mentoring and networking.
Working behind the microscope can be a solitary activity and pathologists may find they desire more connection with fellow pathologists. Who knew Twitter was so prolific within the #pathtwitter community? We have to be honest, we certainly weren’t aware until we ourselves began connecting with pathologists around the world. Twitter is perfect for sharing images and tidbits of information which is exactly what pathologists utilize Twitter for, but they’ve taken it a step further, many steps further. #EBUSTwitter opened doors for collaboration and research on a global scale. They changed the game for research studies and the possibilities for who, when and where to collaborate. Now it’s up to pathologists to take advantage of these possibilities and run with them. #EBUSTwitter is the first study conducted entirely over Twitter, but it shouldn’t be the last. Twitter chats bring together pathologists of varying expertise and offer up opportunities for learning and networking which helps build professional expertise and provides the connection needed to help prevent burnout. One thing is certain, #pathtwitter is growing rapidly and now is the time to begin soaking up all it has to offer.
In part three, our final blog post of this series, we’ll provide insight into how digital pathology can make collaboration on Twitter and in real life easier and more accessible to pathologists around the globe.
Built on the vision of better patient outcomes, Instapath was founded in 2017 by engineers and scientists to enable patients to immediately know their cancer diagnosis. Our team made it our mission to develop fast and easy digital pathology technology so diagnosis can be made in minutes instead of days. To learn more about Instapath and our technology, visit https://instapathbio.com or contact us at email@example.com.
1-3 Lepe M, Oltulu P, Canepa M, et al. #EBUSTwitter: Novel Use of Social Media for Conception, Coordination, and Completion of an International, Multicenter Pathology Study. Arch Pathol Lab Med. 2019 Dec 17.
4 Gottesman S, Hosler G, Klein W, Rush P, Veprauskas K, Gardner JM. #dermpathJC: the first online dermatopathology Twitter journal club. J Cutan Pathol. 2018; 45 (5): 370– 373.