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Dr. Alexander J. Towbin

How a thriving social media presence can benefit radiology departments

by John W. Mitchell , Senior Correspondent
From the November 2017 issue of DOTmed HealthCare Business News magazine

From the way we interact with our friends and family to how we get our news and buy products, the world is truly a different place with the Internet and social media.

For Dr. Alexander J. Towbin and his colleagues at CCHMC, social media has presented an interactive opportunity to educate patients, challenge colleagues and bolster their standing internationally as a thought leader in pediatric imaging.

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Whether through Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Figure 1 or their blog, CCHMC’s radiology department has helped forge a new way for imaging teams to interact with the world. HealthCare Business News spoke to Dr. Towbin about how other organizations can follow their example, mounting cybersecurity concerns, his most successful blog post and more.

HCB News: You have been advocating for imaging departments to embrace social media for several years now. Are you seeing a shift toward greater utilization?
Alexander Towbin: I see more and more departments doing it, but I also see that it’s hard to do well. We’ve been able to distinguish ourselves in how we’ve done it, but it is a big challenge for a lot of departments to do. I think there are a few things that have helped us succeed at it. But, it’s not that it can’t be replicated, it’s just a lot of work.

HCB News: What do you think are the biggest barriers?
AT: One is time, and that’s probably the biggest barrier. It takes a lot of work, and it generally falls to one person or a small group of people. The other barriers have to do with acceptance. At many hospitals, it’s difficult to get social media and a departmental type of account through a marketing department.
It’s hard for one person or a small group of people to have knowledge of everything going on in a department, especially in larger departments where that becomes an overwhelming barrier. Often, it requires content experts who are engaged. So, someone who has been hired to do marketing, for example, has a hard time creating content because it is so technical. It ends up falling to the technical people who are busy with their technical jobs.

HCB News: And social media has become more acceptable?
AT: Yes, it has, and people are more interested in it in their everyday life and see the value of it, both in a good way and a bad way. We see what’s happening with politics and the role that social media has played in politics. We see it in entertainment and how media campaigns are based around social media now. So that’s very attractive. It also gets you in a place where you want to be and lets you interact with your patients or your colleagues in a way you couldn’t before. And the cost of entry is very low.
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