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Faces of Blue: Austin Chiang, MD

By March 14, 2021Faces of Blue

…it’s pretty incredible how social media has had such reach, and I’ve received anecdotes from people who  say, “hey, based on your post, I got my colonoscopy done and I got all my family members to get their colonoscopies done, too,” which is really great, because I am constantly looking for ways to influence more of a public health mindset. I’m not only about the one to one patient interaction, but I’m always trying to look for ways to impact our community as a whole. – Austin Chiang, MD

Austin Chiang, MD, is the Director of the Endoscopic Bariatric Program at Thomas Jefferson University Hospital, he’s a board certified gastroenterologist who is also board certified in internal medicine and obesity medicine. He’s passionate about treating the human body as a whole organism, looking at all factors leading the way to symptoms and issues his patients struggle with.  The micro/macro mentality goes beyond the human body itself. His care, reach, and responsibility as a physician go far beyond the clinic and hospital.  In addition to working on the cutting edge in his field, he’s taken his medical knowledge to where the people are – social media. As the Chief Medical Social Media Officer at Jefferson University Hospitals in Philadelphia, he’s impacted exponentially more lives than those of the people who find their way to his exam room.

By creating engaging, entertaining, and informative videos about the coronavirus, health screenings, and of course, colon cancer, Dr. Chiang has garnered hundreds of thousands of followers on multiple social media platforms. He’s gone on to found the Association for Healthcare Social Media to help health professionals use social media effectively and responsibly – developing best practices for social media use in health and advocating for the recognition of social media as an important public health tool in the fight to combat misinformation.

It all began nearly eight years ago when he started sharing GI information on Twitter.

…there were barely any gastroenterologists, probably five on Twitter. And it’s led me down this entire journey. We developed this professional society to try to legitimize our time on social media…there’s a disconnect with the current paradigm where in academia, especially, what’s rewarded and what’s incentivized are academic publications, but most of the general public are not looking at medical journals and getting their medical knowledge from there. They’re relying on traditional media or social media. And that’s where we really should be…

So, he and his colleagues bring the research to the people – in digestible snippets.

During March, Colon Cancer Awareness Month, posts naturally lean toward Colon Cancer Awareness, but this year, the call for routine screenings has a different energy than in the past.

I think what’s really relevant this year is the fact that many people have been putting off their screening because of the pandemic. Even though we are working through a pandemic, routine health screenings are vital to early detection.  Early detection is vital to successful treatment. Because symptoms frequently don’t appear until cancer is advanced, early detection is key.  

Follow Dr. Austin Chiang on Twitter, Instagram, and Youtube for entertaining and educational content related to colon cancer screenings, gastrointestinal health, and much, much more! For more information about the Association for Healthcare Social Media.

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