Extending Gill's Reach Through Social Media

In the two years since Dr. Vincent L. Sorrell, director of UK HealthCare’s Imaging Program, signed up for a Twitter account – his first tweet was from a cardiology conference in 2017 – the social media platform has emerged as an essential professional networking tool among the cardiovascular community.

A robust online gathering of subject-matter experts have established Twitter as a preferred platform to promote studies, clinical trials and published work; share and elicit expertise and professional opinions; and participate in ongoing discussions with a diverse group of colleagues from around the world.

“If I see something in an imaging study, I can pose a question and have feedback within two hours,” Sorrell said. “That is something that never existed before the world of social media and specifically Twitter.”

One of Sorrell’s most popular tweets is a video showing remarkably reduced tractive function with an unusual pattern. “I put it out with a catchy phrase, and it's now had more than 100,000 responses. It continues to promote UK, to promote me as an individual researcher, to add education for people in this forum and to bring in new people to the forum from elsewhere.”

Forging connections

UK Cardiovascular Clinical Pharmacy Coordinator Dr. Craig J. Beavers originally used his Twitter account to follow journals and to track new studies and articles, but he quickly realized the online platform’s value in forging connections with other thought leaders in the field.

“It’s also causing healthcare providers to think about something many haven't thought about before, which is, ‘What is your brand and how are you building it?’” Beavers said. “The more people we have who are engaged and involved on social media, the better, because that puts not only you but also the entire university in front of a much larger community. It has a huge impact for UK.”

Academic identity

Twitter’s impact on cardiology is only just now being realized. Studies have shown that published papers are cited more frequently and more rapidly when authored by someone who’s highly engaged on social media. Research also has discovered a direct correlation between the reputational rankings of the Top 20 cancer centers and the numbers of physicians at those institutions who are engaged on Twitter.

“It has become so professionally recognized that people are asking, ‘How do you document information like this on your CV?’” Beavers said. “Twitter has become a part of the academic identity.”

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