Forty percent reach of online physicians use social media according to a comScore study.
Doctors are finding two ways to use social media to improve their practices such as physicians only online communities Sermo and Medscape Physician Connect. Sermo has 115,000 MD colleagues, up from 50,000 in 2008 and is the “Facebook” version for doctors. Don’t expect to join this network without credentials though. Medscape Physician Connect generates information to help doctors collaborate on a discussion board.
An example of doctor-generated content on Sermo involved an ER doctor who accidentally got a small saw blade in his thumb. He posted his dilemma on his “wall” and another doctor in the online community told him to slit a straw down its center and “slide it over the blade, then guide the saw out” protecting his thumb and the blade.
While Sermo is free for physicians, it does not make money with online ads; instead it sells aggregate data into reports from private physician conversations (and kept confidential) to pharmaceutical companies, government agencies and financial firms, listening to emerging knowledge.
The other way doctors use social media is to build community and referrals among patients. MacArthur OB/GYN, in Irving, Texas, has a Facebook account with over 700 fans. The practice wanted a place to provide information on women’s health, however most new moms used the site to say thank you and “show off pictures of their newborns.”
Dr. Jeff Livingston, one of five doctors at MacArthur, monitors their Facebook account once a day. One question a patient posted on the wall was “Can my fetus acquire an infection if she swam in a public pool.” Dr. Livingston thought maybe the question was too personal, until he remembered that many women have asked this question. So he answered her on Facebook.
Other MacArthur Facebook postings have included health care organizations such as the non-profit Texas Health Moms and affiliation with Texashealth.org. Dr. Livingston’s goal with social media is to make the experience more personal through technology.
Privacy can still be achieved while using social media networks to promote and connect to your customer or patient. Using Facebook or an industry-specific “Facebook” version, can connect your business and products with other organizations, providing a place for customers to share their experiences and for expert information sharing through a doctor network.
ABOUT: comScore, Inc. (Nasdaq: SCOR) provides digital marketing data for advertising agencies, publishers, marketers, sales and product development to improve trade strategies.
ABOUT: Sermo an online community where doctors share expert advice about their practices. The Company then agregates these conversations and shares them to the medical industry. Sermo has had a partnership with Pfizer since 2007.
ABOUT: Manhattan Research LLC, part of Decision Resources Inc., is a pharmaceutical and healthcare market research service firm that provides information and trend data in a digitally networked economy.
“Doctors Use Social Media to Collaborate Online”. PBS Engage. March 11, 2008.
“Facebook for Physicians? Physicians Use of Social Networks – Episode 19”. Meredith Abreau Ressi, VP of Research, Manhattan Research. Accessed: August 31, 2010.
“Some Doctors Join Facebook, Twitter; Others Wary”. Rita Rubin, USA Today. July 7, 2010.