Social Media and Orthopedics: An Evolving Relationship
Growing technological advances and accessibility has led to drastic increases in connectivity and overall internet usage across the globe. Social media is a very powerful tool to connect a large number of people, who may have otherwise been inaccessible. The Pew Research Center reported that from 2005 to 2021, usage of at least one social networking site increased from 5% to 72% across all adults in the United States 1. While classically thought of as a means to stay in touch with friends and family, the evolution of social media platforms has permeated the world of medicine, including orthopedics.
Social media has the potential to act as an avenue for patient recruitment, patient and surgeon education, and the expansion of the physician-patient relationship. These societal changes have led to a wide breath of research to understand the relationship and implications in practice management for orthopaedic surgeons as well as patient perception on the management and treatment of common orthopedic pathologies. The online education of orthopedic colleagues through anatomical dissection images, surgical procedure videos, and various case discussions, has allowed for a broader and more inclusive “continuing education” at no additional cost.
Furthermore, a study examining 102 sports medicine surgeons by Sama et al. demonstrated the effectiveness of an increased social media presence on higher overall physician ratings on Google, Healthgrades, and Vitals 2. It is believed that an increased social media presence provides surgeons with an opportunity to shape their own image and acquire new patients. This notion was supported by a retrospective study that showed a single positive online review increased the case volume of cosmetic clinics by 30% 3.
Our research group in the Department of Orthopedic Surgery at Rush University Medical Center has focused on understanding the national landscape of orthopedic surgery sports medicine practice models, geographic location, duration of career, and surgeon demographic variance and its relationship to social media presence and activity levels. Social media and online connectivity is here to stay and further understanding of the power of these platforms is essential in order to maximize their value for patients and progressing the field of orthopedics.
Benjamin Kerzner is a clinical research fellow for Dr. Jorge Chahla MD PhD and Dr. Nikhil Verma MD at Midwest Orthopaedics at Rush in the sports medicine division. He is currently between his third and fourth years of medical school at Rush Medical College and is an alumnus of the University of Wisconsin-Madison where he holds a degree in microbiology with honors in the liberal arts. His previous research includes implementing a reliable and reproducible critical sized segmental femoral defect model in rats to study bone healing and application of biomaterials in nonunion on the orthopaedic trauma service at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. While at Rush, he has been involved in research ranging from surgical reimbursement to implant outcomes and survivorship to epidemiological studies for hip and knee replacement under the mentorship of Dr. Brett Levine MD MS. Ben’s research interests include clinical outcomes following ACL reconstruction, epidemiology, social media in orthopaedics, and operative techniques. Prior to beginning medical school, Ben coached and was involved in running a special olympics organization for over a decade in Chicago and Madison. In his free time, Ben enjoys volunteering with special olympics, running, cycling, spending time with friends/family, and rooting on the Badgers.
By Ben Kerzner BS, Jorge Chahla MD PhD
- Center PR. Social Media Fact Sheet. https://www.pewresearch.org/internet/fact-sheet/social-media/
- Sama AJ, Matichak DP, Schiller NC, et al. The impact of social media presence, age, and patient reported wait times on physician review websites for sports medicine surgeons. J Clin Orthop Trauma. Oct 2021;21:101502. doi:10.1016/j.jcot.2021.101502
- Sanati-Mehrizy P, Margulies IG, Sayegh F, Ingargiola MJ, Taub PJ. The “RealSelf Effect”: Can Patient Reviews on Social Media Impact Clinic Volume? Ann Plast Surg. Oct 2020;85(4):352-357. doi:10.1097/sap.0000000000002245