More than 1000 enthusiastic and forward-thinking users from 29 countries are benefiting from dozens of instant conversations and data sharing opportunities using the internet-based, cross-platform messaging service ‘Whats App’. This phenomenon is changing how bronchoscopists and interventional pulmonologists from around the world share educational information.
‘Whats App’ is a freeware, internet-based, cross-platform messaging service for smartphones. Owned by Facebook, the application is used by more than 1 billion people worldwide. It provides a means to chat, exchange photographs or videos, and connect with friends instantly.
Sometimes physician-to-physician consultation is obtained in real-time. Questions about equipment, image interpretation, radiographic findings, or management strategies can be immediately addressed. Fascinating, and often unique case studies, techniques, or clinical puzzles are posted. Kudos, questions, and constructive criticism are provided by international experts and beginners alike. Announcements for workshops, conferences, and educational materials are rapidly distributed around the world.
It all began in the Spring of 2017, when Bronchoscopy International’s Master Instructor, Viviane Figueiredo and I invited participants into a newly created WABIP Brazil ‘Whats App’ group during the WABIP-sponsored Train the Trainer program held in Maceio. Forty Brazilian bronchoscopists quickly joined, and their enthusiasm was contagious. Recognizing the need for an international forum for pediatric bronchoscopists, Mohammad Ashkan from Iran initiated a WABIP Pediatrics ‘Whats App’ group that now includes 228 participants. Other countries quickly started their own national groups: Uruguay, Argentina, Paraguay, Peru, Australia/New Zealand, Spain, Malaysia, Indonesia, India, Bangladesh, Romania, Bulgaria, Serbia, Macedonia, Algeria, Sudan, Egypt, Israel, South Africa, Korea, Greece, and Turkey!
Currently, national groups discuss regionally pertinent topics and debate technology, technique, and management-related issues. Today, these ‘Whats App’ groups continue to grow, but the ‘Whats App’ program limits each group to a maximum of 256 participants. Our goal is to increase each group’s membership to as near this maximum as possible. Admins for each group can invite individual participants into their groups using the individual’s cell phone number. Groups create a self-identifying logo, most of which are really awesome. Guidelines are posted by the group’s Admins. Admins invite participants, monitor posts, and correct material that is inconsistent with guidelines; no patient identifiers, no posts containing material that is not directly relevant to education, research, or patient care.
I, personally have taken on the 24/7 responsibility of monitoring every post, and corresponding as necessary with Admins. I also circulate relevant materials between and among national groups.
‘Whats App’? What’s Next?
– I hope to see participation from countries such as Japan, China, Hungary, Russia, France, Great Britain, Italy, the UAE, and The United States/Canada. We need your expertise!
– Communication can be in mother languages and not necessarily in English.
– If you want to be an Admin, this is a great opportunity for enthusiastic junior bronchoscopists. Please email me!
– Looking forward, I am studying several other messaging platforms in case there is a need or desire for establishing a single international forum later.
– Lastly, please come to a terrific session on How social media and instant messaging enhances bronchoscopy education at the upcoming World Congress for Bronchoscopy and Interventional Pulmonology in Rochester, MN USA on June 13-16, 2018.
These are exciting times, and ‘Whats App’ for bronchologists is more than a passing fad, it’s a movement. This is just the beginning.