The #RadOnc hashtag stands for Radiation Oncology, a field of medicine dedicated to improving cancer care. Its use is intended to promote sharing reliable information and to connect and empower people with similar interests in cancer care. It is inclusive of all interested in radiation medicine and cancer care. Professionals need ways to share that meet their needs, so that they can better meet the needs of patients.
Hashtags make information more easily searchable and sharable. Using the hashtag #RadOnc helps people find others who care about cancer care. Creating this community will provide an opportunity for education, sharing best practices, and health advocacy for health professionals.
Virtual relationships are often as real as face-to-face relationships. The experience of finding so many others with similar interests can be very empowering. But don’t let the rewards of connecting with friends online be too casual – it’s still a public, professional discussion.
Keep in mind that anything you post on Twitter is public- and likely will stay that way permanently. Your followers will see every one of your Tweets, even while you are participating in a tweetchat.
Using the #RadOnc hashtag makes what you share searchable. Whether it’s an isolated posted message, a tweetchat or a blog post, sharing health information means giving up some of privacy. Don’t share what you don’t want friends, family, employers, patients, or others to potentially find.
For healthcare professionals, don’t discuss your experience at work today or any patient-specific information. If in doubt, assume it may violate HIPAA and just don’t tweet or share. Generalize it, even if it’s a little less effective at making your point. Patients come first.
For individuals new to Twitter, consider searching for information with #RadOnc to see how people use social media. For your entry into tweetchats, try ‘listening in’ or ‘lurking’ but not sharing at first. For example: If you are interested in a tweetchat, you can search the hashtag and read all the posts, without participating directly until you are comfortable with this new tool.
Also, if you want to discuss more with someone off a public network, share your email or personal information as privately as possible (for example, send a direct message on Twitter).
Twitter should be (and is) a supportive and positive social environment. How you share matters as much as what you share. Respect and civility are essential parts of professionalism and should be reflected in chats. Even when we disagree, the goal should be finding solutions – not ‘being right’. Repeated disrespect, spamming or other unprofessional behavior may require the chat moderators to publicly recommend blocking you.
Transparency is also important. If you have any financial conflicts of interest related to the topic of the chat, we recommend that you share this at the outset of joining the chat.
Sharing what you know is great. When relevant, consider linking to published research if it helps make your point. Hyperlinks to PubMed.gov and journal website abstracts are often efficient and straightforward.
Conversation, not medical advice
Because the purpose is sharing, and not medical advice, it’s best for all participants to understand that any information shared can’t be applied to medical decisions without reviewing with their own doctor. Tweeters should avoid medical advice. Readers/lurkers should recognize that meaningful medical advice is best individualized after proper history, physical exam and review of essential medical records – not a 140-character tweet.
Beyond the chat
The #RadOnc chat is a focal point to help connect people interested in radiation oncology. #RadOnc extends beyond the organized chat and is defined by those who choose to use it. The chat moderators can’t curate all the content or take responsibility for how it’s used on an open platform. We do hope you will help us make it a valuable resource for others and encourage use of #RadOnc to promote the best interests of patients and professionals in cancer care.
The idea of a twitter journal club in radiation oncology was inspired by the team at #iurojc, who have recently published their initial experience. Our hope is to analyze and continually reassess our experience and understand how to best connect our community. Eventually, we too hope to present and publish our experience in order to help guide other specialities that may be considering similar undertakings.