Social media for knowledge translation – a BloodTechNet project

Wednesday, February 14, 2018 Jenny Ryan

Since 2011, many excellent projects have come to life through Canadian Blood Services' BloodTechNet program, which also receives support from Grifols. A new resource, titled Blood & Clots, and one of its creators, are the focus of today's post.

Through the BloodTechNet competition, Canadian Blood Services' Centre for Innovation funds innovative projects aimed at delivering educational tools and resources that support the development of skills, knowledge, and expertise of health professionals in the transfusion, cellular therapy, and transplantation communities in Canada.


Blood and Clots series

Dr. Andrew Shih was granted funding through BloodTechNet in 2016. His project was titled Social media for knowledge translation and education 3 (SoMe-KTE3): Transfusion, thrombosis, and hemostasis

Known as the Blood & Clots series, this online curriculum is dedicated to the management of bleeding and thrombosis with transfusion medicine as a central concept. Housed on CanadiEM, this series of online educational resources focuses on some of the most difficult dilemmas we face in medicine today: how to manage patients who are bleeding, clotting, or both. The resources have been designed with ER doctors and front-line/primary care physicians in mind.  


Blood & Clots graphic (Canadiem)

The curriculum is based on a needs assessment that will be published shortly and is written by a team of hematology faculty from across Canada.

We had a chance to talk with Dr. Shih about the project and here’s what we learned…

Who are you and what do you do?

My name is Andrew Shih and my background is in clinical hematology. I currently work as the Medical Director for Vancouver Acute hospitals and the Regional Medical Leader of the Transfusion Medicine Service at Vancouver Coastal Health Authority. 

When you applied for the BloodTechNet program, what did you want to build?

We developed Blood and Clots (SoME-KTE3) Curriculum. The support from Canadian Blood Services’ BloodTechNet program was key for three reasons: 1) it let us aggressively promote for a massive online needs assessment to help us develop a learner-centred online curriculum to teach management of  patients with bleeding and clotting; 2) it provided an online outlet and supported its maintenance as well as the resources needed to develop the content; and 3) it helped us bring on support staff to analyze our needs assessments and to organize all the team members located across Canada.

Why is this new resource important?

This resource adds to the growing landscape of resources from the Free Open Access Medical Education movement, otherwise known as the FOAM movement.  Medical practice is constantly updating, which leads to traditional resources becoming quickly out-of-date. Traditional resources also tend to be expert-centered, which may teach concepts that are interesting to the writer but lack relevance for the learner.

What topic does it cover? What problem does it solve?

Our main focus was how to manage patients who are bleeding, clotting, or both! These are some of the most daunting patients to manage and the conditions are often complex enough not to be amenable to simple algorithms. Additionally, transfusion medicine is not always well-understood by front-line clinicians, but has a large role to play in the practical management of these patients.

Our team felt there was an opportunity for these complex topics to be directed to what  emergency and family physicians need. And, it could be  based on patients rather than concepts, and presented in an organized, useful way.

How did you go about it ?

It all came together organically. I was approached by some experts in FOAM who were interested in developing such a curriculum and had already gathered an enthusiastic core team of experts from emergency medicine, thrombosis, and hematology.

To get a sense of what unperceived needs might be in practice, we performed needs assessments on each other. This revealed that there was an opportunity to improve transfusion medicine knowledge relevant to these patients, even among a group of experts. We then  realized that there was likely a gap in front-line physician knowledge. So we designed the curriculum so it could  meet broader needs in transfusion medicine.

Our massive online needs assessment was unique and relied heavily on social media. We received responses from 21 different countries and from a range of specialties. We got feedback about perceived needs and came to understand topics  that were unperceived needs.

How was the experience developing this material?

It was fun and an incredible learning experience for me. I had never been involved in such a systematic and organized needs assessment. I had never written an educational blog post, and never been involved in other productions like videos or podcasts.

The editorial process for developing this material was also novel. Rather than having a traditional hierarchy of junior trainees write material reviewed by senior experts, the vision was more of a back and forth that would lead to the best information in the simplest package. Junior trainees and senior experts collaborated to produce first drafts, which were then passed to medical students or even university students to see how non-experts would digest the materials. They were then passed back to the junior trainees and senior experts for revision, who would then pass it to the FOAM experts on our team for formatting and  best impact. We're still refining this process, but I think this collaboration does lead to a better end-product!

What do you hope to achieve?

We want it to be a go-to resource for front-line physicians and medical trainees to get the latest practical updates on how to care for these patients. With enough people using the site, we hope to form a multidisciplinary community that can give continuous feedback on the educational gaps in practice, to find talent to grow our team, and to further the discussion beyond the curriculum. For example, the FOAM experts on our team have done online "town-hall"-style discussions linking health care professionals worldwide to discuss the best care for patients.

How will it be used and by whom?

Because the curriculum is on a leading Canadian resource for emergency physicians, the community already established there will likely be the first to adopt it. Through collaboration with other communities, such as the Canadian Blood Services’ Centre for Innovation, we plan to expand the reach of this globally and to other disciplines of health care. Transfusion medicine is a practice that touches all specialties and projects like this are a great way to link them.



Dr. Andrew Shih - Canadiem

The BloodTechNet Learning Fund was launched in 2011 by Canadian Blood Services’ Centre for Innovation. The BloodTechNet Competition, with support from Grifols, facilitates the development of innovative educational projects that support the Transfusion, Cellular Therapy and Transplantation communities in Canada.

Find out more about the educational resources developed through the BloodTechNet program.


Canadian Blood Services – Driving world-class innovation

Through discovery, development and applied research, Canadian Blood Services drives world-class innovation in blood transfusion, cellular therapy and transplantation—bringing clarity and insight to an increasingly complex healthcare future. Our dedicated research team and extended network of partners engage in exploratory and applied research to create new knowledge, inform and enhance best practices, contribute to the development of new services and technologies, and build capacity through training and collaboration.

The opinions reflected in this post are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of Canadian Blood Services nor do they reflect the views of Health Canada or any other funding agency.




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The Stem Cell Club is just one of many successful and impactful projects funded by the BloodTechNet competition. Do you work in transfusion or transplantation medicine? Got a bright idea on how to share knowledge? Apply for funding to bring it to life.