The field of rheumatology is advancing fast—alongside communication technologies that generate a massive amount of information. Paul Sufka, MD, a rheumatologist with HealthPartners in St. Paul, Minn., is interested in the ways social media can help him and other rheumatologists stay connected and keep abreast of practice information.
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Explore This IssueApril 2018
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“One thing I see people doing too little of in our profession is interacting through social media,” says Dr. Sufka. He stresses that rheumatologists need to realize, however, that their patients are very engaged online. He notes that among those rheumatologists who are active on social media, Twitter is where you’ll most likely see them engaging.
Sharing Practice Information
Dr. Sufka says he gets about 60% of his practice information, including updates on treatment options and changes in payment policy, through social media and online sources, such as in individual and group Twitter conversations with colleagues.
As a member of the ACR’s Committee on Marketing & Communications (CMC), Dr. Sufka is using his social media savvy to help refine ways that members can access practice resources.
One of the biggest committee projects he has worked on involved updating the College’s digital patient education resources, which the ACR provides to members to share with their patients.
“It’s important for rheumatologists to have accessible information on treatments, conditions and other aspects of care that can be easily shared with patients,” Dr. Sufka says.
He also worked with the ACR to host a press conference on research presented at the 2017 ACR/ARHP Annual Meeting, and he continues to work with committee members to shape ongoing communication strategies for the College’s annual Rheumatic Diseases Awareness Month each September.
The CMC is very involved in ACR activities as a whole, picking and choosing the right information to send to members that helps them learn about College activities and practice information, without overloading communication frequency, Dr. Sufka shares.
“We have a really engaged group who looks to e-communication for information that informs their practice.” To further leverage this engagement, he and other committee members are exploring innovative ways to connect with members through social media outlets, such as Facebook and Twitter, while also refining the College’s established presence on social media and email communications.
Connecting the Community
“Its fun to help others get involved,” Dr. Sufka says. He recently reached out to a member through Twitter who had presented at the Annual Meeting to ask how he might want to get involved in the College. This member is now volunteering in ACR educational work. “With only around 4,800 rheumatologists in the country, it’s important that we get involved in ways that help our practice and our patients.”
As a younger physician who first joined the ACR during his fellowship in 2009, Dr. Sufka, says his volunteer work with the College has been a great way to build his network and find new ways to access information and knowledge that he can apply in his practice, making him a “much more well-rounded rheumatologist.”
Through his volunteer work with the CMC starting in 2015, he has a new perspective on how much the ACR does and the power he has as a member to speak up for the profession through ACR efforts. “Through the ACR, it is easier than you might think to speak up and impact the profession, whether in practice or policy.”
Dr. Sufka invites members to reach out to him directly through Twitter if they are interested in learning more about volunteering with the College or to simply discuss practice issues. “It’s important to find any way we can to connect with our strong network of rheumatologists, to share and gather information and strengthen this unique physician community.”
When he is not in practice or online, Dr. Sufka is enjoying time with his wife and son, dining around the Twin Cities, or working out.
For More Information
Join Dr. Sufka each month to participate in the Rheumatology Journal Club.
Carina Stanton is a freelance science journalist based in Denver.