Conversations With Cardiologists: Kevin R. Campbell, MD, FACC

February 15, 2017 | Kevin R. Campbell, MD, FACC

'Conversations With Cardiologists' highlights prominent cardiologists throughout the country and shares their invaluable insight on cardiology and sage advice for Fellows in Training (FITs). In an interview with Poonam Velagapudi, MD, MS, chair-elect of the FIT Section Leadership Council and an FIT at Brown University, Kevin R. Campbell, MD, FACC, discusses social media use in health care and how he got involved in the digital sphere.

PV: The use of social media is growing by the day. More people across the world of all ages are using one form or another of social media. How is social media influencing medicine?

KC: Social media is transforming health care. Social media allows physicians to engage with other colleagues in real time to solve problems and debate clinical issues. It also allows physicians to educate themselves, their colleagues and their patients. Social media provides an opportunity to educate patients and influence behavior through engagement. Finally, social media provides every provider the opportunity to influence policy and become a key opinion leader.

PV: What are some important things that FITs need to know about the use of social media?

KC: Social media is where our patients are now, and where we all need to be. While it is important NOT to engage in a doctor-patient relationship online, the digital space does provide a unique opportunity for patient engagement in general disease specific discussions – we know that when patients engage in their own health care, outcomes improve significantly.

PV: Since use of social media is increasing by the day, do you think there must be some formal training about social media during medical training?

KC: I think that social media training should be part of formal medical education. Whether this is done in medical school or residency, we must train our new doctors to be ready to handle the challenges of a digital world. Currently I am writing a social media textbook for health care providers, and this should be available in late 2017. It is important to understand that every one of us has a digital footprint – whether you want one or not – and it is important to aggressively manage your own digital footprint. Every physician must engage at some level.

PV: We are excited for your general session on social media at ACC.17, as well as the social media session for FITs. What can we expect at these sessions?

KC: We are excited to present a TED talk-style session at ACC.17. During this session we will have a broad variety of talks from the social media thought leaders in the cardiovascular world including John Mandrola, MD, FACC; Melissa Walton Shirley, MD, FACC; and myself. We will present best practices for social media and case studies from successful engagement. In addition, I will discuss specifics of regulation from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration in the digital space.

PV: You are a regular on multiple television channels. How did it all start for you and how do you balance a career in cardiology and mainstream television?

KC: As part of my career as a cardiologist, I began to become involved in the mainstream media. This began when I was noticed in the digital space (from blogging and tweeting) by television producers. I then was asked to speak about sudden cardiac death on camera after the untimely death of a prominent basketball coach at Wake Forest University. Following this appearance, I was asked to speak on other media outlets. I enjoyed the opportunity to impact the health status of large numbers of people during a four-minute national segment and ultimately, hired a talent agent and publicist to assist me with the development of my media career.

Balance is difficult at times – as it is with any profession. I now work part time as a cardiologist and part time as a media personality/analyst. It is important to speak with your division chief and partners in order to make this type of situation work.

TV can be a great way to communicate important public health messages to the masses very quickly. You must be careful as to how you choose your words and you must always base everything you say in the best available data when you are on camera. I now also do private media training for health care providers who may be interested.

PV: What are some current important issues in cardiology?

KC: I think that two of the most important issues in cardiovascular medicine today are: 1. Raising awareness for women and heart disease. As you all know, heart disease kills more women than men in the U.S. today – one in four women will develop heart disease. My first book, Women and Cardiovascular Disease: Addressing Disparities in Care, focuses on promoting awareness through education, advocacy and research; 2. The use of mobile devices, such as the AliveCor mobile EKG, to improve access to care and to quickly screen large populations for atrial fibrillation. When you place devices in the hands of patients, engagement and outcomes improve.

PV: Do you have a message that you would like to share with FITs?

KC: Remember that the practice of medicine is an honor and a privilege. Never be afraid to take chances in your career – pursue your dreams. If you always keep the patient at the center of your focus, you will always make the right decisions.

PV: Once again, thank you so much for your time and input Dr. Campbell. We look forward to your social media session at ACC.17, "Social Media and the Cardiovascular Professionals: Lessons Learned and Future Applications," March 17 from 2:00 – 3:00 p.m. in Room 140B.

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