Social Media in Practice

Social Media in Practice

Issue: April 2021
Perspective from Taha Qazi, MD
Disclosures: Chiang reports no relevant financial disclosures and Jain reports that she is a consultant for Healio, the consulting medical editor of Women in Oncology for Healio and host of the Oncology Overdrive podcast for Healio.
March 08, 2021
4 min read

Clubhouse: Engaging with others outside your ‘normal sphere’

Issue: April 2021
Perspective from Taha Qazi, MD
Disclosures: Chiang reports no relevant financial disclosures and Jain reports that she is a consultant for Healio, the consulting medical editor of Women in Oncology for Healio and host of the Oncology Overdrive podcast for Healio.
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Physicians have increasingly used social media to begin conversations on a range of topics and share their research.

One of the most recent social media apps they use is Clubhouse, an audio-only platform.

Austin Chiang, MD, MPH, chief medical social media officer at Jefferson Health, explained there are rooms where a certain number of people are on stage speaking and the others are considered the audience. Those is the audience can only speak when they raise their hands and are invited on stage.

“It’s great,” Chiang, told Healio Gastroenterology. “It fills a certain need for group communication and it’s similar to Zoom in that you can engage with multiple people at a time, but the platform doesn’t cut out if people are talking over each other.”

Clubhouse is a completely different social media platforms than Twitter or Facebook, according to Chiang.

“Basically, it’s a way to kind of join the conversation with people who you normally would not necessarily be able to listen to or be in a conversation with so people feel that Clubhouse has become a place where you can have access to content and access to individuals that you normally would not have access to,” Shikha Jain, MD, assistant professor of medicine at University of Illinois at Chicago, told Healio Gastroenterology.

She said it is a way for people to connect with those outside of their normal sphere.

Creative uses for Clubhouse

According to Chiang, many physicians are now using Clubhouse and engaging with nonmedical people about health topics. They are also hosting their own rooms in Clubhouse to discuss various health topics. Chiang and Walter W. Chan, MD, MPH, started a regular GI Grand Rounds discussion on Clubhouse.

“With regard to gastroenterology, some colleagues and I have already started using it to hold journal clubs and grand rounds-type discussions around GI topics and we’re encouraging our thought leader colleagues to get on the app so that once again we can make sure that the people who are speaking about these topics are actually reputable and well-trained in those areas,” Chiang said.

He added, “[Everyone] seems to have a different approach and that is still very much rapidly evolving because of how new the platform is.”

Jain reported listening to conversations on gender equity, women in medicine issues, starting a side gig or how to create your own business. Some physicians just want to join a conversation while others create rooms to discuss heated topics. Further, some promote books or events and educational lectures.

Jain said, “[Clubhouse] is being used, and I can only imagine that it will continue to grow.”

Chiang did note some issues with Clubhouse. There may be a power dynamic due to the positioning of people on the stage compared with the audience. Anyone in the Clubhouse room can put themselves in a speaker position and position themselves as the authority although they may not be an authoritative figure on their topic.

“It’s clearly hugely successful and other platforms are already working on their versions of this,” Chiang said. “Twitter is going to release [its version] pretty soon.”

Always room to improve

Chiang said like with other social media platforms, there is always room for improvements with Clubhouse. “We have to understand that this app is less than a year old [while] Twitter has been around for much, much longer.”

He noted the founders of Clubhouse said they are gradually introducing changes and improvements to the app as they recognize where improvements are needed.

“One challenge I personally have, I haven’t been able to use it as much as I would like. It’s hard for me to be on a solely audio platform when I have young children running around and sometimes I’m trying to catch up on things in between things. So it’s hard to always be present when the things are happening,” Jain said.

She said one improvement for her would include a space on Clubhouse where recordings are available or incorporate the opportunity to have chats through text similar to other social media platforms and not be solely an audio platform. Jain said this may make Clubhouse more accessible for those who are not in a place they can physically speak.

Privacy issues

Chiang said physicians need to be aware of the possibility of privacy-related issues just like any social media platform. There may not be much policing on Clubhouse because it is a public platform without many restrictions, according to Jain.

“We knowingly and willingly participate on other platforms,” he said. “Recognizing that there are a lot of other privacy issues and not everybody knows how to navigate that because there are ways to shut off certain functions that are just on by default collecting information from you, and with Clubhouse, we just have to view it the same way.”

He said people who use Clubhouse need to be aware that because the app is an audio format, their voice recordings may be extracted and cataloged.

Regarding gastroenterology, Chiang said he and his colleagues use Clubhouse as an adopter so that they will not lag behind like they have with other social media platforms.

“I’m curious to see where it goes because it is a very unique and interesting platform that might provide some very interesting ways to engage,” Jain said. “Hopefully, it will be a place where we can find ways to uplift those voices that need to be amplified and find a way to really get the voices of those people who need to be heard amplified in a greater way. I’m hopeful that we will be able to find a way to do that with this particular platform, similar to what we’ve tried to do with other platforms across social media.”