Snapchat makes radiology diagnosis a snap for residents

By Theresa Pablos, staff writer

August 4, 2020 -- Snapchat -- the social media platform famous for its quickly disappearing images -- proved to be an effective tool for educating radiology residents in a small pilot study published on July 30 in Emergency Radiology.

In the study, seven radiology residents were shown five emergent radiologic cases on Snapchat and five similar cases on a classroom projector. The images required immediate communication, and the residents' performance was scored on a scale of 0 to 2, with 0 representing a complete miss and 2 meaning they got the correct diagnosis.

The residents performed significantly better on Snapchat than with the projector, the authors found. The four-week cumulative score for juniors was 81 out 160 on Snapchat, compared with just 63 with the projectors. Similarly, seniors scored 88 out of 120 on Snapchat, as opposed to 75 with the projector.

"Radiology residents interpreting emergency cases via Snapchat showed higher accuracy compared with using a traditional classroom screen," wrote the authors, led by Dr. Bradley Spieler, an associate professor of diagnostic radiology at the Louisiana State University Health Sciences Center in New Orleans. "This pilot study suggests that Snapchat may have a role in the digital radiologic classroom's evolution."

The authors noted the COVID-19 pandemic is underscoring the need to create innovative teaching methods, and smartphones may be one such tool to connect with students and residents. Residents have a high comfort level with mobile technology, and radiology may be particularly well-suited to learning on visual social media platforms, such as Snapchat.

"We believe that the results from this pilot study could facilitate a promising and novel training method in enhancing recognition of imaging diagnoses, particularly those of life-threatening nature, which could be applied to the evolving landscape of distance learning," Spieler stated in a press release.

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