STS/CATS/CSCS Offers Primer on Internet, Social Media, 3D Printing

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Monday’s STS/CATS/CSCS session gave attendees a new perspective on how the internet, social media, and 3D technology can impact cardiothoracic surgical practice.

Presenters at the STS/CATS/CSCS session on Monday took attendees beyond their comfort zones, giving them a glimpse of how they can improve their internet presence, benefit from the use of social media, and use 3D printing applications in cardiothoracic surgery. The program was a collaboration among STS, the Canadian Association of Thoracic Surgeons, and the Canadian Society of Cardiac Surgeons.

The rapid increase of individuals looking to the internet for their health care needs has subsequently altered the doctor-patient relationship, said Christopher W. Seder, MD, Assistant Professor of Surgery in the Department of Cardiovascular and Thoracic Surgery at Rush University Medical Center in Chicago, who discussed how to build a winning website.

Beyond his presence on the Rush website, he and his colleagues worked with an outside company to create a website for their practice, www.midwestesophagus.com.

“It’s important to optimize your internet presence. To do that, you need to do four things: get people to your website, emotionally connect with them, logically justify that connection in their mind, and convert that to an office visit,” Dr. Seder said.

He provided several tips for achieving search engine optimization, including the use of high-quality, original content, high-quality back links for users to link to your website, and social media to increase those back links. Because the duration of website visits are short lived, he said it’s vital that websites are inviting and well designed, but surgeons should resist the urge to overly self-promote and rather provide useful information, including avenues for connecting with their offices.

Mara B. Antonoff, MD shared her insights about the advantages social media can bring to cardiothoracic surgeons, describing Twitter as a fruitful environment for her professional networking, which she said gives her endless potential interactions with patients, caregivers, advocacy groups, and societal organizations.

“I use Twitter to communicate with others about my primary academic interests, including lung cancer and medical education. I have formed collaborations, learned an inordinate amount, participated in important dialog with others, and shared my own resources with a wide audience,” said Dr. Antonoff, Assistant Professor in the Department of Thoracic and Cardiovascular Surgery at The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center in Houston.

Dr. Antonoff also discussed the preliminary 6-month experience of the Thoracic Surgery Social Media Network (TSSMN), an organization that she helped create. TSSMN participants are charged with promoting Twitter discussions relevant to the content of The Annals of Thoracic Surgery and the Journal of Thoracic and Cardiovascular Surgery, using the hashtag #TSSMN.

Mackenzie Quantz, MD has embraced the world of 3D printing, producing a number of models, including an aortic root and mitral valve, on his 3D printer, which is about the size of two paper shredders.

“The use of 3D surgical simulators helps train residents to be more proficient outside of the operating room in a stress-free environment, at their own pace, and under mentorship, which enhances the learning experience,” said Dr. Quantz, Associate Professor of Surgery and a Consultant in Cardiac Surgery at the University of Western Ontario in London, Canada.

“You can make your own simulators, fine-tune them, and create special one-offs for any type of situation, and you can do it very quickly for a low cost,” Dr. Quantz said. “I control the entire process, which makes it extremely user friendly and flexible.”

The co-moderators of the STS/CATS/CSCS program were Sean C. Grondin, MD, MPH, Clinical Professor of Surgery in the Section of Thoracic Surgery at the University of Calgary, Alberta, Canada, and Colin Schieman, MD, Assistant Professor of Surgery and Director of the Thoracic Residency Program at McMaster University, St. Joseph’s Healthcare in Hamilton, Ontario, Canada.

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