While the COVID-19 pandemic spread across the globe early last Spring, social media platforms saw a worldwide surge in users. Part of this surge was due in large part to lockdown and quarantine mandates enacted by world leaders and governments, leaving a majority of people without a means of socializing with others. However, some groups of people flocked to social media apps such as TikTok, Instagram, and YouTube for other reasons.
Along with the spread of the COVID-19 pandemic came wave after wave of misconceptions and false information, prompting some medical doctors and healthcare professionals to share their expertise with members of the public through social media.
Adam Goodcoff, a Chicago-based emergency medicine resident physician, was one such doctor. In 2019, a year before the pandemic’s onset, Goodcoff started his own digital brand dubbed The Med Life with the goal to educate and inspire healthcare workers around the world. To date, Goodcoff offers the first and only social media-based interactive live medical simulation free to learners around the world, which he streams for his followers on YouTube and occasionally on TikTok.
Goodcoff’s brand rapidly grew to over a million followers across Instagram, YouTube, and TikTok, but when the COVID-19 virus began circulating globally, Goodcoff decided to utilize both his platform and expertise to educate the public about the dangers of the virus, debunk misinformation, offer healthcare advice, and even help boost vaccination rates amongst his online followers.
“The pandemic was a huge opportunity for healthcare providers to recapture the interest of the public and regain some trust,” said Goodcoff. As of March 2021, TikTok videos with the hashtag #doctors had more than 1 billion views, while #nursesoftiktok had nearly 2 billion views. Both hashtags were dwarfed, however, by videos with the #coronavirus hashtag on TikTok racking up more than 100 billion views.
At a time when online influence from medical doctors and healthcare workers was at an all-time high, Goodcoff was aware that his own influence – both personal and professional – acted as a double edged sword. While some healthcare influencers came under fire for violating COVID-19 guidelines, Goodcoff shied away from posting any content to his social media that could be considered “controversial” to some, albeit with one crucial exception.
While many members of the public posted on social media about their reluctance to receive the COVID-19 vaccine, whether due to concerns over side effects or claims that the vaccines were developed and rolled out too quickly, Goodcoff was working directly with patients afflicted by the virus and witnessed its effects on the human body firsthand. As such, he decided it was vital to share his experience receiving the COVID-19 vaccination with his followers to help inform them of the truths and falsehoods about the vaccine.
In one of his live, interactive sessions on TikTok, Goodcoff shared his own vaccination experience with followers in an attempt to convince more of them to schedule and receive their own COVID-19 vaccine.
“I want my social media platform to focus mainly on education for the masses and on getting the next generation excited about medicine,” Goodcoff said.
It seems that Goodcoff’s goal to educate and motivate has worked so far. In late 2020, he was rated as the #2 top doctor to follow on TikTok.