Distilling and Sharing Science on Social Media with Austin Lee Chiang, MD, MPH

Distilling and Sharing Science on Social Media with Austin Lee Chiang, MD, MPH


There are certain clinical nuances in medical and/or scientific communication that gets lost in translation when communications professionals without background on the subject are left to relay these messages on their own. This is why Dr. Austin Lee Chiang Medical made it one of his biggest goals to get more clinicians on social media to talk about their work and to help educate the public. But this requires the ability to distill science for public consumption without dumbing down the information. This line between jargon and layman’s term is what science professionals need to tread in order to get their message across the right way.

Dr. Austin Lee Chiang is an Assistant Professor of Medicine at Sidney Kimmel Medical College, Director of the Endoscopic Bariatric Program, and the Chief Medical Social Media Officer at Jefferson Health. He’s also the Founding President of the Association for Healthcare Social Media, an advisory board member of the Association for Bariatric Endoscopy, and he is also on committees for the leading national GI societies. 

Dr. Chiang is triple board certified in Gastroenterology, Internal Medicine, and Obesity Medicine. He completed an Advanced Endoscopy Fellowship at Thomas Jefferson University Hospital before staying on as faculty. Prior to that, he obtained a Master’s in Public Health from Harvard University’s T.H. Chan School of Public Health. At about the same time, he trained in Gastroenterology and Hepatology at Brigham and Women’s Hospital where he completed the fellowship in Geriatric Endoscopy. 

Dr. Chiang received his MD and completed his Internal Medicine residency at Columbia University. Before that, he attended Duke University where he obtained his bachelor’s degree in Biology. 

What You’ll Hear On This Episode of When Science Speaks

  • Dr. Austin Lee Chiang talks about why he’s on TikTok and what he hopes to achieve by joining the platform
  • How Dr. Chiang distills medical information into the limited time in TikTok videos 
  • How Dr. Chiang comes up with topics for his posts on social media 
  • Things Dr. Chiang hopes to achieve as Chief Medical Social Media Officer at Thomas Jefferson University Hospital
  • How Dr. Chiang’s colleagues relate with him as the Chief Medical Social Media Officer 
  • Should scientific information be shared on Instagram? 
  • Dr. Chiang gives tips on how clinicians and health organizations can get started with using social media and how to choose which platform to use

Connect with Austin Lee Chiang, MD

Health Information Sharing 

How much of the health information patients receive during when speaking with a medical practitioner actually sticks with them? Dr. Austin Lee Chiang says that not a lot of information is retained by patients because of the huge mental load it gives, and this opens up patients to the risk of misinformation which can easily be spread through social media. Like wildfire, misinformation can spread so fast and this can lead to bigger problems for the public and for the medical society.

This is why Dr. Chiang believes that it’s important for health professionals to make themselves visible on social media in order to share information in a manner that can be easily understood yet is still accurate. He himself has been using various social media platforms to reach out to people not only to share his experience as a doctor with those eager to join the medical field but also to share his knowledge with people in a bid to fight the proliferation of misinformation.

Distilling Science for Public Consumption 

Granted, there’s no hard and fast rule for sharing scientific or medical information in a way the public can understand. For Dr. Chiang, he says that putting yourself in the shoes of patients and the public helps him choose topics to cover in the limited time frame allotted in social media. By trying to see things from the perspective of the audience, he is able to figure out what to share and how to best convey the relevant information in the most comprehensible way possible.

However, Dr. Chiang says that although social media is most a lot of humor and fun, health professionals should make sure that they are being thoughtful with how they portray patient interactions and the work that they do to avoid misconceptions and misunderstandings. Optimizing social media advantages is a great tool for health professionals but they should still keep in mind that they are professionals and that what they do is in the service of the public.

Choosing the Topics to Cover on Social Media 

Dr. Chiang bases the topics he covers on his social media accounts on his expertise, his experience, and some of the common questions he encounters when dealing with patients. He says that sharing useful and helpful information that the public can easily understand is a responsibility that healthcare professionals should take seriously.

Accurate representation of data, information, and healthcare tips is more important than just being fun and relatable. By choosing to go for topics that you have a wealth of knowledge on, you can guarantee that what you share will be what is truly needed by your target audience.

Learn more about Dr. Austin Lee Chiang on this week’s episode of When Science Speaks.

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