Making Radiologists More Visible Through Social Media

The following article was written by Cathy Garzio, M.B.A, Administrative Director of the Department of Radiology and Biomedical Imaging at UCSF.

During a presentation about patient-centered radiology at the recent meeting of the Radiological Society of North America, attendees heard that radiology as a profession must start acknowledging the power of social media.

I applaud this pronouncement, and in the Department of Radiology and Biomedical Imaging at UCSF we have been using social media for several years.  Our experience attests to its power.

Our foray into social media began with a blog post in late 2010.  Prior to that, our market research told us that referring doctors can feel intimidated when they enter a Radiology Reading Room and that they don’t always understand the role of the radiologist.  We learned that patients often think that radiology involves only a technologist and that no doctor is involved.

This research data led us to think about how we could educate patients so they would better understand that radiologists are doctors and what their role is in providing excellent medical care.

Simultaneously, some important clinical trials were about to start at UCSF, and members of our Musculoskeletal Section were publishing some significant research results that were relevant to the lay public.  A desire to get the word out about both of those announcements was the impetus we needed to start a blog—with the news of the clinical trials and the musculoskeletal research results as our first two posts.

What followed was an enthusiastic response by our younger faculty, who were already engaged in social media in their personal lives.  They showed great interest in writing articles for our blog.  To date there have been nearly 160 blog posts written by more than 40 different faculty members.

As our faculty continued to post more entries, we decided to use Twitter and Facebook to drive more traffic to our blog.  Statistics bear out the success of that strategy.

As of October 2013:
–        During the prior year and compared to the year before, we increased total visits to the blog from 8,841 to 28,145 visits (an increase of 218 percent).
–        During the prior year and compared to the year before, we increased total blog article views from 13,250 to 35,716 visits (an increase of 170 percent).
–        We had 2,028 followers on Twitter.
–        On average: 18 Tweets were Retweeted each month; eight Tweets per month were bookmarked as Favorites; and nine Tweets per month included mentions from
–        Blog posts generated 329 “Likes” on Facebook.

Our experience has shown that doing a little bit of social networking leads to the consideration of other avenues of social media.  We have since created a YouTube channel to expand our video presence, and we began sharing our blog via Google+ in an effort to let patients and health care providers know that radiologists are highly-trained physicians who perform groundbreaking activities every day.  You can find out more about our world-class radiologists here.