Social Media and the Tweetups at #ACR13

Paul SufkaConferences, Education, Rheumatology Podcast, Social Media

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I was fortunate again this year to attend my sixth American College of Rheumatology Annual Meeting (ACR) in San Diego.

This year was much different than every other because of the (self-imposed) stress of organizing the #ACR13 tweetups, relating to my goal of trying to spend time meeting with people at medical conferences. I want to thank everyone who attended. Every year the tweetups have lead me to numerous ventures following the meeting, and the most notable of these have been the chance to help Crescendo Bioscience on their iOS app MyRA, as well as our ongoing project, The Rheumatology Podcast.

Every year, the use of Twitter at ACR has gotten bigger and better. It was great to meet Dr. Christopher Collins of @RheumPearls, who presented a session on The Use of Social Media in Rheumatology Education and Practice, which was a fantastic overview of the various networks that rheumatologists are using to connect.

Following #ACR13, Dr. Ronan Kavanagh wrote a great post discussing his experience with how Twitter allows one to enhance learning at medical conferences:

Live-tweeting as part of a community also allows participants to feel that they are taking part in the meeting – rather than just being passive recipients of information. It is during the informal information exchange between people that the real learning resonances and cementing of useful information takes place.

I completely agree that social media is probably the most accessible way to enhance learning at medical meetings, as users move from being a passive attendee of a lecture to an active participant. Being active in the conversation amplies the benefits of the meeting by bringing you to a higher cognitive level of learning.

The #ACR13 Tweetups went extremely well, and I’m very happy that so many people were able to make it. Since the goal of the Tweetups were to get people to connect, my request is for anyone that attended to make a point to follow up with someone you met in person. As I mentioned, each time this has led me to interesting things, and my hope is it will do the same for others.


The first gathering was Sunday evening at an Irish-style pub called Hennessey’s Tavern, with about 20 attendees.

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Pictured below is myself with Dr. Antoni Chan, who following ACR has started a new blog called Joint Venture. His most recent post does a great job reviewing the mechanisms of HLA-B27 in ankylosing spondylitis.

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The second gathering was over lunchtime on Monday at Maryjane’s cafe at the Hard Rock Hotel, also with about 20 or so attendees, most who had not been at the first tweetup.

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Dr. Lothar Kirsch has also posted about the social aspect of #ACR13, including pictures of the tweetups

Update 12/4/2013: Dr. Philip Robinson’s post: My #ACR13 news, highlights and suggestions

Also, check out our wrap-up of #ACR13 on The Rheumatology Podcast.

Thanks again!