AUA 2019: Rapid, Efficient Crowdsourcing on Social Media for the Surgical Management of Stone Disease

Chicago, IL ( Crowdsourcing – the practice of providing services and information to a large population – has been proposed to be an increasing advantage of social media for many medical professionals. Urologists have been utilizing social media, primarily Twitter, as a part of clinical advice. Dr. Kevin Koo and colleagues presented a modern and timely study, which aimed to observe the use of Twitter to crowdsource issues in surgical stone management and determine global solutions to the challenges that patients face.

The study observed Twitter posts from Urologists containing 22 urinary stone key phrases over a 39-day period. A content analysis was conducted and observed urologists seeking feedback and patients seeking advice regarding the urinary stone disease.

Based on 29 crowdsourcing requests and nearly 300 Twitter posts, Dr. Koo and his co-authors found that crowdsourcing is rapid, with an average crowdsourcing request showed 2.8 days from initial request to final reply, global, with 97% of the initial requests received an answer from outside the home country of the initial post. They also concluded that urologists tended to be significantly engaged with their social media community, with 62% percent of urologists following up on replies. Lastly, they discovered that privacy remains a concern for most patients, with 60% of crowdsourcing requests included patient imaging or other clinical details that might be identifiable to the patient.

While addressing apprehensions on medical-legal ramifications of giving advice on social media, Dr. Kooreassured that while urologists should pay attention to local frameworks and policies, the medical-legal ramifications have not yet caught up to the ways in which urologists push the boundaries of social media platforms and crowdsourcing.

He also touched on the concerns of neglecting the importance of in-person diagnosis and care. Dr. Koo emphasized that the well-being of the patient comes first and foremost, and that the principles that medical professionals follow that are already in place for urological practice should still apply to social media, and that as technologies mature, urologists should be responsible and proactive of making sure is patient-centered and evidence-based.

Dr. Koo concluded his presentation on the emphasis that social media platforms such as Twitter have the capacity to successfully facilitate quick and quality patient-specific advice, specifically challenges particular to surgical stone management, and that urologists that use such platforms to facilitate a dialogue should consider privacy concerns.

Presented by: Kevin Koo, MD, MPH, James Buchanan Brady Urological Institute, John Hopkins University School of Medicine, Baltimore, Maryland

Written by: Aleesa Chavez, (Department of Urology, University of California, Irvine) medical writer for at the American Urological Association's 2019 Annual Meeting (AUA 2019), May 3 – 6, 2019 in Chicago, Illinois