The Icaroe Project was born more than one year ago, when a group of friends and doctors decided that they wanted to share in a simple, straightforward and highly accessible way what they had learned from years of studying with everybody else, and that they wanted to do so using social media.
Social media is a very big part of our lives today and it has become more and more a place where we not only use to share personal information but also useful content. Many people, especially the youngest, rely on prominent social media figures such as influencers to get information about the world and they trust the people they follow.
For these reasons it is even more important to use these tools to share valid and trustful information, to teach people how to discriminate between what’s true and what’s not and to show them that social media can be a source of good information if we know how to look for them and if we ask for proofs and sources to the people we follow.
Icaroe was born in order to shatter the barrier that separates doctors and professional healthcare figures and the population. It is not uncommon to hear that a patient was too embarrassed or scared to ask for information to a specialist because they fell that they were not heard or understood, because it seems that, at times, these two worlds speak different languages and are incapable of truly connecting. What we wanted to do was to really talk to people, show them that we are there for them, that they are heard and that there are ways in which they can understand the often complex subject of medicine. We think that health cannot be separated from health literacy and that everybody has to have the tools to understand medical information and has the right to have them. Our aim is to translate complex information in words that are easily accessible and understandable by everyone, we want the people that follow us to know that on our pages on social media and on our website they will find a safe space, where they can talk and ask questions and be heard, where they can get trustful information made easy to understand, where they can find real people and not only professional figures. We are first and foremost medical doctors (even if we are not only doctors running the page and we wish to expand in the future in order to involve other professional figures). So our aim is to give real and trustworthy information, we never give consultation online, we just try to guide people through the enormous amount of information that there is out there about health, helping them to discern what’s reliable and what is not and explaining difficult themes in an accessible language.
We tried to learn as much as we can about social media and communication and we are still learning every day, we reached almost 4000 followers on Instagram and Facebook in one year of activity and we met so many different professional figures that are using social media as a tool to convey important information. It is not always easy to translate the medical language into something that is understandable even from people who are far away from these concepts, but we think that there is no such thing as a subject that can’t be understood by everyone: the key is the way we choose to talk about it.
We don’t want to be ordinary, this is not our goal, we want to be simple: we want to talk about difficult and sometimes niche concepts (such as immigrants health, sex workers, LGBTQ+ health and so on…) in a way that makes them accessible to everyone. We want a world in which people are really able to understand crucial information about their health and are able to do something to change their lives for the better and with baby steps that’s what we are trying to do.
The Coronavirus Pandemic has shown us even more how easy it is for fake news to spread and how important it is to be present as health professionals in every aspects of people’s lives in order to make sure that they have access to the right information, not only for their health but for everybody’s health. Being a doctor or a healthcare professional nowadays and wanting to make a difference in terms of Public Health, cannot be separated from social media and divulgation, using each and every tool at our disposal and learning how to communicate better on these planes. If you really want to make a difference you have to be there and you have to learn how to be in contact with people, how to be trustworthy and how to make them feel safe when they talk to you, both on an academic and human level.
Francesca Gigola, Marco Del Riccio, Virginia Casigliani, Teresa Giulia da Molin, Dario Rosini, Giorgia Soldà.
Find us on: