Drowning in
Oncology News?

We Have Your Lifeboat.

tl;dr: There is a new newsletter called “Complete Response” launching this week, specifically to make sense of the #ASCO15 meeting. It will use oncologists conversations on Twitter to drive the content: only the most shared stories, tweets and videos will be highlighted. You can subscribe here.

The American Society of Clinical Oncology Annual Meeting is the biggest gathering on the hottest topic in medicine: cancer. Over the course of less than a week, thousands of new pieces of research will enter the bloodstream of modern medicine as tens of thousands of doctors absorb the newest findings.

Sorting through the deluge has always been an issue; even the most dedicated on-site attendees find it hard to make it to more than a dozen sessions, meaning that viewing even 10 percent of what the meeting has to offer is impossible.

For that reason, social media has been a boon. Live-tweeting, in years past, has had an amazing multiplier effect, transcending the bounds of geography and time to bring a portion of the meeting to anyone within site of a cell tower.

But ASCO — like most big meetings — has become a mess. One estimate suggested that 100,000 tweets will fly during the conference’s run from May 29 to June 2. The “stream” is now a torrent. Dip into the #ASCO15 hashtag and you’ll quickly drown in information.

There are two ways out of the morass. One is to narrow the field of vision and only follow a few voices, rather than trying to soak it all in. If that’s your approach, ASCO itself has selected 20 members who will tweet the meeting, and you can follow all of them via a Twitter list. That’s an effective way of separating signal from noise, but it may go too far in limiting the field of vision.

That’s where we come in with the second strategy for squeezing meaning from the chaos of ASCO. Twitter is the world’s best curation tool, and there is great value in looking only stories and tweets that oncologists are sharing. In the past, that’s been hard to do: if, as the old New Yorker cartoon suggested, “on the Internet, no one knows you’re a dog,” then, on the Internet, no one knows you’re an oncologist, either.

That’s changing. My company has developed a database called MDigitalLife that ties back social media profiles with public government data about doctors, giving us thousands of verified oncologists that we can track on social media. We know what they share, who the follow, and what tweets are going viral. In short, this mass of doctors is curating the best medical news, and we have the tools to capture that.

This year, during ASCO, we plan on sharing that crowd-curated perspective on the meeting with an email newsletter called “Complete Response.” My colleagues will push out a newsletter this week, one next week, and we’ll deliver it daily during the conference, highlighting only those items that oncologists are sharing in large numbers. Editorial control, in other words, is solely in the hands of the tweeters.

If you’re interested in following the news that way, please take a moment and subscribe to “Complete Response.” We promise to protect your email address and respect your time.

And if you’re an oncologist, please keep tweeting. We’re counting on the wisdom of the crowd.

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