ASCO Experiment: One-Stop Commenting for Cancer Research

Posted by: in Healthcare Insights, Public Relations Practice, Social Media Insights & Trends on June 2, 2011

I would like to invite you all to an experiment in how information flows out of medical meetings.

Two weeks ago, I proposed that ASCO open up its abstracts to commenting, all the better to allow perspective on data presented at the meeting that might otherwise go without remarks. Even though I realized it wouldn’t be possible for ASCO to re-design its abstract site for this year’s meeting – starting tomorrow – I have been nagged by the fact that so much of the commentary (and would-be commentary) from the 2011 meeting might be lost.

So over the weekend, I began creating a simple spreadsheet to capture some of the ASCO social media chatter in one place. I wanted to be able to create a single location where abstract-specific information being swapped on social media (Twitter, blogs, Facebook) could be aggregated. The first version of this effort is not elegant. It’s not simple, but I’ve started building it, linking to the tweets and blogs I’ve seen. Please take a look.

I plan to continue expanding this over the next week, but to maximize this resource, others must play along. Here’s how:

  • Keep tweeting about research, especially research off of the beaten path. Tag your tweets with “#ASCO11” and include an abstract number to make it easy to index. (e.g. “Interesting take on combination therapy in metastatic bladder cancer. http://bit.ly/example, #ASCO11 abst. 5555″)
  • If you have a blog or a Facebook post on a specific abstract or set of research, please let me know at breid@wcgworld.com.
  • If you don’t use social media or want to comment directly, you can input your thoughts directly using an online form. The form is optimized for mobile, so you can bookmark http://bit.ly/socialabst and publish your thoughts directly from a session.
  • If you’ve already tweeted and I’ve missed your tweet, you can input it yourself using the form, or just send me a message on Twitter and I’ll add it in.

Admittedly, there the limitations. The sample size so far is small, and this approach doesn’t take into account retweets, so I’m loathe to make sweeping statements about what “the Internet” thinks about this year’s meeting.

But looking through the social media discussion gives a different impression than following the mainstream press over the past two weeks. Focusing on social media has drawn my attention to interesting discussions of cost-benefit analyses and screening, as well as teases of important information yet to be presented. There are also references to deeper dives in specific areas that will be far more captivating to doctors and patients than to the national media.

In all, there have been dozens of different abstracts already highlighted or commented upon (nearly 40, as of this writing), which already outstrips the limited number discussed in the traditional media. I’d love to see that number grow. I’ll follow up again after the meeting and share what I’ve learned.

Let me know if you can help, and see you in Chicago.

By: Brian Reid

Brian Reid is a director at WCG in the product group, where he specializes in media. He is a former journalist who believes content really is king.

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