The advent of the internet and the popularity of e-learning resources has promoted a shift in medical and surgical education today. The Neurosurgical Atlas has sought to capitalize on this shift by providing easily accessible video and online education to its users on an international scale. The rising popularity of social media has provided new avenues for expanding that global reach, and the Atlas has sought to do just that. In this study, the authors analyzed user demographics and web traffic patterns to quantify the international reach of the Atlas and examined the potential impact of social media platforms on the expansion of that reach.
Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram metrics were extracted using each respective service’s analytics tool from the date of their creation through October 2019. Google Analytics was used to extract website traffic data from September 2018 to September 2019 and app data from January 2019 to October 2019. The metrics extracted included the number of platform users/followers, user demographic information, percentage of new versus returning visitors, and a number of platform-specific values.
Since the authors’ previous publication in 2017, annual website viewership has more than doubled to greater than 500,000 viewing sessions in the past year alone; international users accounted for more than 60% of the visits. The Atlas Twitter account, established in August 2012, has more than 12,000 followers, primarily hailing from the United States, the United Kingdom, Canada, and Saudi Arabia. The Atlas Facebook account, established in 2013, has just over 13,000 followers, primarily from India, Egypt, and Mexico. The Atlas Instagram account (established most recently, in December 2018) has more than 16,000 followers and the highest percentage (31%) of younger users (aged 18–24 years). The Atlas app was officially launched in May 2019, largely via promotion on the Atlas social media platforms, and has since recorded more than 60,000 viewing sessions, 80% of which were from users outside the United States.
The Neurosurgical Atlas has attempted to leverage the many e-learning resources at its disposal to assist in spreading neurosurgical best practice on an international scale in a novel and comprehensive way. By incorporating multiple social media platforms into its repertoire, the Atlas is able to ensure awareness of and access to these resources regardless of the user’s location or platform of preference. In so doing, the Atlas represents a novel way of advancing access to neurosurgical educational resources in the digital age.