Expanding Global Health Education Through Video and Social Media With Yan Leyfman, MD

At the 2023 American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO) Annual Meeting in Chicago, Oncology Data Advisor sat down with Dr. Yan Leyfman, a physician at Mount Sinai Hospital and Director and Host of MedNews Week. Dr. Leyfman explains the origin and reach of MedNews Week and how it strives to combat health care information, champion patient advocacy, and expand global health education through its video and social media platforms.  

Oncology Data Advisor: Welcome to Oncology Data Advisor. Today, we’re here at the ASCO Annual Meeting, and I’m joined by Dr. Yan Leyfman. Thanks so much for coming on today.

Yan Leyfman, MD: Thank you so much for having me. It’s truly a pleasure to be here.

Oncology Data Advisor: Would you like to introduce yourself and your platform, MedNews Week?

Dr. Leyfman: Sure, thank you so much for the opportunity. I am a physician and a researcher from Mount Sinai, New York. During the height of the COVID pandemic, as we’re all aware, there was a lot of health care misinformation. That is really what led to the development of MedNews Week, which is a virtual education platform with the main goal of combating global health care misinformation and contributing to health care education, especially in redeveloping and developing countries globally. We’re very proud of the growth that we’ve had so far.

Oncology Data Advisor: Great. What are some of the types of programming and the content and topics that you cover?

Dr. Leyfman: Initially, this began as combating COVID misinformation, but eventually it evolved to something bigger than that, because misinformation is rampant even beyond COVID. So, we feature topics across all of medicine, but at this stage of the game, it’s mainly oncology. We feature all topics from, let’s say, the latest developments in immunotherapeutics—which has been a highlight of this ASCO Meeting, to molecular diagnostics—to the incorporation of lifestyle medicine in oncology and cancer treatment and therapeutics, to importance of mentorship for trainees and beyond, and beyond, and beyond. There’s no topic that’s off limits; it’s just whatever would pique the interest of our audience, which we’re very happy to see continually growing with each and every single episode.

Oncology Data Advisor: Yes, it’s a very successful platform. You really cover a broad range of subject matter. What are some of the factors that have contributed to your large viewership?

Dr. Leyfman: I can’t take all the credit, and I refuse to take all the credit. I like to say there’s no “me” in MedNews Week; it’s “we,” and the largest “we” is the team that we have—our passionate trainees, physicians, and researchers, who selflessly give their time to make this platform, to build it up, to grow it, and to really make it what it is today. But equally important to that are the great speakers that we’ve been able to have. Global leaders in medicine, like Dr. Julie Gralow, who’s the Chief Medical Officer of ASCO, have graciously given their time and energy to educate our viewers on various topics in medicine. We are very fortunate to say that we’re booked solid until the end of this year, and we’re already starting to book for next year.

Oncology Data Advisor: That’s so exciting.

Dr. Leyfman: Thank you.

Oncology Data Advisor: What are some of the additional directions you’re looking forward to taking next year and in the coming years?

Dr. Leyfman: Something we’ve noticed during the pandemic is that there was a decrease in the number of conferences. Given that when you’re an early-career researcher or an early-career physician, who’s really trying to build a name for themselves, it’s very difficult to have a platform or have someone to really showcase the work that you’re doing. On top of that, even if you’re in a large institution, it’s easy to be lost in the fold, or just be a number in the large contingency of everyone that is there.

We strive to highlight the work of the next rising stars and the present stars in the field. We’ll be launching a series called Research Spotlight, which will be a two-part series. The first part will be looking at the person behind the white coat, so to speak—looking into their journey, why they picked medicine, why they picked their particular field. Then the other half will be speaking about their research, their passions, and really what innovative trajectories they’re doing to move the field forward into the next frontier.

Oncology Data Advisor: Speaking of this next frontier, what is the impact that you think that global health education can have?

Dr. Leyfman: We’ve already seen that with the current success of MedNews Week. We’re very honored to have a poster here at this year’s ASCO Meeting, but we actually have two posters just announced last week for the ASCO Breakthrough in Japan later on this year. Our impact and our mission are contributing to global education. In one year, we’ve been able to hit over 60 countries, 20 of which are of lower socioeconomic status. We’re approaching the 1.5-year mark, and I’m happy to say that we’ve covered most of the countries across the world and have some form of a footprint.

Our goal is to continue to grow. We have a partnership with the VuMedi, which is essentially the YouTube for health care providers. A large subscription of physicians on that platform is community care practitioners. Our goal is to use our social media network, social media platform, and our partners to help spread the message of the latest developments in the field to contribute to global medical education, so that everyone is up to date on the most cutting-edge information, but also to have verified information from the sources—from people who really are setting the guidelines on the guideline committees to transform patient care.

Oncology Data Advisor: Has social media been the main avenue through which you’ve reached so many countries?

Dr. Leyfman: It has. We are happy to say that we’re on most social media platforms and are continuing to grow and expand our global reach. We’re looking forward to growing it even more as our team grows, and we are able to host a greater number of speakers and diversified speakers as well. Our goal is to showcase the brilliance that is out there, irrespective of where they are in the world.

Oncology Data Advisor: Yes, absolutely. One final question I’ll ask you is, since the theme of ASCO this year is partnering with patients, how do you strive to do this at MedNews Week?

Dr. Leyfman: A part of the mission of MedNews Week is to pick topics that are geared towards patients. We have a large patient audience of patients and patient advocates. That’s what allows us to stream to all the platforms and really reach patients. We’re trying to form partnerships with nonprofit organizations, as well, and use that as an outlet to reach patients and connect them with these global leaders so that they’re up to date on the latest information. Any way that we can be an asset and a resource, we will strive to do with all of our content. I just want to emphasize, it’s free; we’re not being paid for this. We do this out of the passion and the mission that we have to really make a global impact. That’s really, I think, what sets us apart from other organizations, because everyone on our team is passionate about making a positive global impact. I’m happy to see us continue to do that with each and every day.

Oncology Data Advisor: Fantastic. It is really a phenomenal resource for both patients and the oncology care team, so thanks so much for talking to us about it today.

Dr. Leyfman: Thank you so much for the opportunity, and please continue to follow us on all of our platforms. Thank you.

About Dr. Leyfman

Yan Leyfman, MD, is a Physician and Researcher at Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai Hospital in New York. His research interests include oncology, immunotherapy, chimeric antigen receptor (CAR) T-cell therapy, bone marrow transplantation, and COVID-19. Dr. Leyfman is the Director and Host of MedNews Week, a virtual education platform with the goal of combating health care misinformation and contributing to global health care education,

For More Information

Leyfman Y, Pawar S, Joshi M, et al (2023). Impact and engagement of a virtual platform to provide equitable oncology education globally. J Clin Oncol (ASCO Annual Meeting Abstracts), 41(suppl_16). Abstract 11019. DOI:10.1200/JCO.2023.41.16_suppl.11019

Leyfman Y, Joshi M, Pawar S, et al (2023). Global impact of a video education platform on oncology education amongst healthcare professionals. J Clin Oncol (ASCO Annual Meeting Abstracts), 41(suppl_16). Abstract e23005. DOI:10.1200/JCO.2023.41.16_suppl.e23005

Transcript edited for clarity. Any views expressed above are the speaker’s own and do not necessarily reflect those of Oncology Data Advisor. 

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