Pediatric radiologists launch first hospital channel on ‘Instagram for doctors’

Radiologists at Cincinnati Children’s Hospital have blazed a new trail in social media, making their workplace the first hospital to have its own channel via an image-sharing app unofficially dubbed “Instagram for doctors.”

The group made the move as just one more way to provide education to colleagues.

“We’re recognized as being leaders in [traditional] radiology education,” explained Alexander Towbin, MD, in an interview with the Cincinnati Business Courier. “Why should education be tied down to one person or group instead of letting everyone learn for the benefit of society? The more doctors we can teach and help improve the knowledge base, the more children benefit from it.”

Towbin is co-chief of thoracoabdominal imaging and chair of radiology informatics at the 130-year-old Cincy institution.

The free app, Figure 1, works with both Android and iOS mobile operating systems, allowing healthcare professionals worldwide to securely share and compare diagnostic images.

Toronto-based Figure 1 told the Business Courier it has about 150,000 users scattered around the globe and spanning doctors, nurses, physician assistants, medical students and nursing students. The company added that, until Cincinnati Children’s launched its channel, adoption was limited to individual users.

As of March 10, when the outlet published the story, the channel had already attracted some 373 followers.

The radiology department said it will post content regularly using the handle CincyKidsRad. It’s been going by that on other social media sites for some time, including Twitter (where it has more than 1,500 mostly medical followers) and Instagram (2,000-plus followers).

“The audience on Figure 1 is more engaged,” Towbin said. “Instagram can be difficult because it has hundreds of millions of users, so sometimes it’s tough to grow an engaged audience there.”

Cincinnati Children’s radiology department is also active on Facebook, where its efforts to interact with patients, families and the rest of the community have drawn more than 400 Likes.

The Business Courier reported that Towbin handles posts on Twitter and Facebook, while Saad Ranginwala, MD, a radiology resident at the University of Cincinnati, handles most Instagram posts.

“Social media is becoming such a predominant force in education,” Ranginwala said. “It’s an easy way to get a learning point out there other than the traditional lecture. It’s catering to a new generation.”

Last month at imagingBiz, radiologist/social media guru Garry Choy, MD, encouraged academic radiology departments to catch up to their private-practice counterparts in the broad and frequent use of social media.