Doctor wins international award for social media and healthcare research

Dr Damian Roland (pictured), Honorary Senior Lecturer in the Department of Health Sciences, has won an international award for his research into social media and healthcare.

The consultant in paediatric emergency care at Leicester’s Hospitals has been awarded first prize in the Stanford Medicine X | Symplur Signals Research Challenge 2015 and will present his work to the Medicine X conference at Stanford University in California on Sunday 27 September 2015.

The Challenge is a joint venture by Stanford University and healthcare social media analysts Symplur. The competition aims to encourage research into social media, healthcare and the benefits this can offer to patients.

Dr Roland, who is part of the SAPPHIRE (Social Science APPlied to Healthcare Improvement REsearch) group teamed up with Dr Daniel Cabrera, of Mayo Clinic College of Medicine, and Jesse Spur BN, of the Royal Brisbane and Women’s Hospital, to secure the top prize. The trio impressed judges with their research which used social media analytics to interrogate Twitter data and give credence to an online healthcare community – to the extent that it can be defined as a community of practice.

The team focused on the Free Open Access Medical education (FOAM) community of healthcare professionals who collaborate online to share knowledge. They interrogated the Twitter #FOAMed hashtag using Symplur Signals analytics tool.

Dr Roland said: “The analytics showed millions of impressions recorded over a set period and also revealed it is a community that is growing. The #FOAMed community has proved very popular and uses the power of social media. It is truly what a community of practice can be defined as.  It shows that through Twitter healthcare professionals are educating each other and this is benefiting the patients they work with.”

The SAPPHIRE group studies quality and safety of healthcare with the aim of securing patient benefit. Consistent with its mission of helping to bridge the gap between evidence and practice, SAPPHIRE has a keen interest in supporting use of social media to support professional development.

  • For more information on the Stanford Medicine X | Symplur Signals Research Challenge and to read the prize-winning abstract visit the website.