#ACR15 Wrap Up: Review Course, Tech Med Track, Tweetup, #RheumJC, San Francisco Food, & More

Paul SufkaConferences, Education, Med Tech, Social Media


”We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, then, is not an act, but a habit.” — Aristotle

#ACR15 marked the eighth consecutive American College of Rheumatology Annual Meeting that I have been fortunate enough to attend. I had the feeling of coming full circle, since the first ACR meeting I ever attended (when I was just a chief resident) was the 2008 meeting, also held in the wonderful city of San Francisco.

As I’ve mentioned numerous times before, since this meeting is the biggest thing in rheumatology each year, I spend some time thinking about how to optimize my time there, which results in an incredibly full schedule.

Review Course

”Scientific knowledge is a body of statements of varying degrees of certainty—some most unsure, some nearly sure, none absolutely certain.” — Richard Feynman

The pre-meeting ACR Review Course is an educational highlight for me each year. Personal favorites were the sessions on Central Nervous System Manifestations of Rheumatic Diseases and Extra-Pulmonary Manifestations of Sarcoidosis, although I’ll eventually need to repeat the A Rational Approach to Dermatology for the Rheumatologist on SessionSelect.

This year, as an alternative to tweeting out main points, I took notes on most of the sessions in Evernote and made them available publicly.

(I format my notes using Markdown, which combines readability with the ability to easily convert them to other formats. Highly suggested if you do any online writing).

Tech Med Track

“I’m interested in things that change the world or affect future in wondrous new technology where you see it and you’re like, ‘How did that even happen? How is that possible?’” — Elon Musk, Wait But Why: The Cook and the Chef: Musk’s Secret Sauce

This year, the ACR meeting included a new Tech Med Track that I was fortunate enough to be part of with my talk: Introduction to Automation and Workflows to Save Time and Increase Office Productivity.

Other talks in this track included: – Dr. Suleman Bhana (@DrBhana): Rheumatologist Tested Tech Tools to Use In the Office [pdf] – Dr. Shashank Akerkar (@doctorakerkar): Hashtag: The Power Tool of Twitter [syllabus on Evernote] – Dr. Christopher Collins (@RheumPearls): Twitter Chats in Rheumatology (slides available on Evernote via @Larhumato)

Tweet Up

“The Internet is becoming the town square for the global village of tomorrow.” — Bill Gates

We had another great Tweetup this year, and it was great to both catch up with friends from all over the world and finally meet a number of people in person. At the #ACR14 Tweetup, I had mentioned the article “You don’t have to be local,” that discusses the balance between being a local or a global person, and the Tweetup is a great way to keep this in balance, along with a great networking opportunity.

#RheumJC Poster

“Twitter lets me hear from a lot of people in a very short period of time.” — Robert Scoble

The beginning spark of #RheumJC happened last year at #ACR14, and has turned into an overall success, with five well attended journal clubs over the past year, highlighted by our abstract #2217 and poster (available for download on rheumjc.com): #RheumJC: Development, Implementation and Analysis of an International Twitter-Based Rheumatology Journal Club .

During the meeting we discussed plans to improve #RheumJC over the coming year, which will include expanding the organizing team. Keep an eye out for a more official call for anyone interested in helping.

Right now, the best way to make sure you don’t miss anything with #RheumJC is to sign up for our mailing list and to follow us on Twitter at @RheumJC.

Other Stuff You Shouldn’t Miss

  • Dr. Jonathan Hausmann (@hausmannMD) presented Use of Social Media By Rheumatology Fellows in North America (abstract #1012) showing that Twitter was used by a surprising low number of rheumatology fellows at 18%, hypothesizing: “It is possible that warnings about potential harms of social media within healthcare institutions have made rheumatology fellows less likely to engage on these platforms.” Given the strong benefit many of us have seen from the use of Twitter for ongoing education, I agree with suggesting further steps to “examinine the barriers to professional use of social media, as well as educate physicians about its potential benefits.”

  • Dr. Samuel Whittle (@samwhittle) presented Investigation of Environmental Associations of Fibromyalgia Pain Using Twitter Content Analysis (abstract #2296), using a novel method of analyzing Twitter user data: “Sentiment analysis, a computerized linguistic method that uses natural language processing and text analytics to identify subjective information … to quantify the affective content of each included tweet” and correlating this with weather data at the location of each individual tweet. Results showed that humidity increases were the only weather change associated with higher pain (r=0.009, p=0.001). More importantly, this abstract is an amazing example of the vast data available from social media for analysis.

  • The session on Wearable Biosensors to Advance Rheumatology, with talks on Wearable Biosensors and the Quantified Self Movement by Dr. Brennan Spiegel (@BrennanSpiegel) and Applying Biosensors to Advance Clinical and Research Settings in Rheumatology by Dr. Jeffery Curtis (@RADoctor)are both packed with cutting edge insights into how we (and our patients) will be using biosensors in the near future, and where this area may be going. I’ll have to take a second look at this one as well on SessionSelect.

  • The work of CreakyJoints (@CreakyJoints) and Dr. John Cush’s RheumNow (@RheumNow), who are building excellent, evidence based, online communities and resources for patients and rheumatologists respectively. You’ll notice the influence they’ve had (especially @CreakyJoints) at #ACR15 in the statistics below.

Meeting with ABIM Regarding MOC

During the meeting, I volunteered to echo the frustrations of the social media world regarding MOC to the ABIM during a focus group (at 7:15am, no less).

Suffice it to say, we’re quite fortunate that the ACR so strongly supports it’s members with a well written position statement [pdf]. Thank you!

ACR15 Meeting Statistics

Symplur statistics on the #ACR15 meeting showed incredible numbers, with 2400 participants:

Screen Shot 2015-11-15 at 4.44.18 PM
Screen Shot 2015-11-15 at 4.44.32 PM

Dr. Tejas Desai (@nephondemand) also provided some excellent analysis (see his timeline for even more):

Meeting Summary on Storify

Dr. Daniela Russi (@Danielaruss) posted this excellent Storify summary of the meeting:

Food in San Francisco

Finally, no trip to SF can pass without mention (or pictures) of some of the amazing food:

Great seafood at Tadich Grill with @DrBhana

A photo posted by Paul Sufka (@psufka) on


A photo posted by Paul Sufka (@psufka) on


A photo posted by Paul Sufka (@psufka) on


A photo posted by Paul Sufka (@psufka) on

Burrito Mojado

A photo posted by Paul Sufka (@psufka) on


A photo posted by Paul Sufka (@psufka) on