During early 2015 we celebrated ten individuals “…advancing the cause of social media in clinical practice.” Following the interest in this story, it seemed valuable to invite a few brief thoughts from each of these healthcare professional mentors, to help others navigate the world of social media in clinical practice.

In the fourth of our ‘Three key insights‘ series, we speak with Paul Sufka. Thank you Paul for your kind contribution here.

Paul provides very practical guides for other healthcare professionals to learn from and follow. His ‘How to Blog’ article includes slides and instructions for getting started, as well as links to other notable examples. His blog very informative, and he is now also a driving force behind the new #RheumJC live chat.

How and when did you begin to realize that social media might be valuable in your professional life?

I really realized how much of an impact that social media could have on my professional life when I finally met in person a number of rheumatology colleagues that I had vaguely become acquainted with over Twitter at the Tweetup at the 2011 ACR Scientific Meeting in Chicago.

Prior to that meeting, I spent some time thinking about the ways I could make the most out of attending a medical meeting, and realized that the single most important thing was to engage with others that had a similar mindset as my own.
Making these connections was the launchpad for a number of unique opportunities, such as helping with the initial design of the MyRa iPhone app, launching The Rheumatology Podcast, teaching clinicians how to start a blog and being part of the Social Media Bootcamp at our 2014 ACR meeting, which led to the recent formation of #RheumJC.

Can you tell of a personal ‘valuable lesson learned’ about social media that you would like medical peers and students to be aware of?

The valuable lesson I’ve learned because of social media is to find ways to make more meaningful connections with others, and not just others in your specific specialty. The great thing about these networks is that you can connect with people who have many different ideas and experiences, or come from different backgrounds. I found making in-person connections especially helpful, so I have made a point to organize the last two ACR Tweetups.

What do you see (or hope to see) in the future of healthcare engagement and social technologies?

We’ve reached a point where so many people are on social media that we need tools to help us deal with overload. I find tools like Nuzzel helpful, and I’m actually hoping that Twitter continues to improve their recommendation engines. I would find it especially helpful if they developed a tool that helped search for people with specific interests based on the cumulative data available in their timelines (I’d love to find even more techie physicians that are into weightlifting and coffee).