Authored by Cello Health, now part of Lumanity

Whatever your opinion on peer review, impact factors or the current medical publication models, medical publications remain and should remain central to medical communications. Only by having data in the public domain in a transparent way can clinicians educate themselves on new data, changing trends and best practice. Medical education and marketing in healthcare relies on data and associated publications being high-quality and robust – regardless of whether the basis of a publication is data from a large-clinical trial, market research, from a registry or an individual case study.

I’m always interested in the reach of data and medical publications and for me I’m fascinated by how social media is impacting on the uptake of published articles. For this reason, this article by Luc JGY, et al. caught my eye on PubMed.1 The article suggests that there is a significant increase in Altmetric scores for publications with a Twitter presence. Great, I’d expect that. This comes down simply to extra touch points with a target audience (plus ease of access), but what is really interesting is the significant impact on the amount of times an article is cited. This means that social media is not just improving the reach of published data but also changing the impact factors of individual journals/publishers – presumably this means that those that have embraced social media are considered in these measures as being more prestigious. An interesting thought for an industry that is undergoing modernization in many ways… 

It would be great to know more about the geographic and demographics of the people in this study and to learn about their motivators for reading specific articles. Are payers, nurses, key opinion leaders (KOLs) and regional clinicians as equally influenced? And what about patients? We haven’t seen as many lay summaries being written alongside publications as I would have predicted yet, but Twitter definitely has the potential to direct more patients to journal articles. 

The COVID-19 pandemic has forced digital practices to be embraced and social media is gaining ever increasing traction. It’s great being part of an organization with a specialist social media team and I will be staying close to them in coming months to learn as much as i can about the changing world of digital opinion leaders.

“When compared with control articles, tweeted articles achieved significantly greater increase in Altmetric scores (Tweeted 9.4 ± 5.8 vs Non-tweeted 1.0 ± 1.8, P < .001), Altmetric score percentiles relative to articles of similar age from each respective journal (Tweeted 76.0 ± 9.1 percentile vs Non-tweeted 13.8 ± 22.7 percentile, P < .001), with greater change in citations at 1 year (Tweeted +3.1 ± 2.4 vs Non-Tweeted +0.7 ± 1.3, P < .001).”1


  1. Luc JGY, Archer MA, Arora RC, et al. Does Tweeting Improve Citations? One-Year Results From the TSSMN Prospective Randomized Trial. Ann Thorac Surg. 2021;111(1):296-300. doi:10.1016/j.athoracsur.2020.04.065