Since its rise to prominence, social media has proven to be an important tool for general communication across all fields, including medicine. A recent study conducted by Kantar Media examined the trends of social media use by medical professionals.

Researchers found that nearly half of the physicians surveyed had used social media in a professional capacity to interact with colleagues in the past month. Nearly half of the physicians also indicated the use of an online patient portal to interact with their patients. Overall, 18% of the physicians surveyed said that they found professional social networks to be an important source of information, with the most social network use coming from those in the general surgery specialization. According to the study, the majority of physicians using social media are men younger than 45 years who see more than 100 patients per week. Other data showed that the highest number of physicians with daily exposure to professional social networks are those in pediatrics.1

With online communication establishing itself as such an important tool, social media education initiatives for medical professionals are an easy way for physicians to become comfortable using these online outlets. The Mayo Clinic runs a collaborative learning community for this purpose, the Mayo Clinic Social Media Network (MCSMN).2 Since 2010, the goal of the network has been to enhance the use of social networking tools throughout Mayo Clinic. According to the Mayo Clinic Social Media Network website, “At Mayo, we believe individuals have the right and responsibility to advocate for their own health, and it’s our responsibility to help them use social networking tools to get the best information, and connect with providers as well as one another.”

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The Kantar Media study also examined the ways consumers and patients find value in using social media and other online avenues for health information. Many consumers look for health providers online and interact with other patients to share information about physicians. This gives patients the chance to make the most informed decision about who they will choose to seek medical treatment from. Patients may also turn to the internet to explore treatment options, which they will then discuss with their physician. This is a main reason why online visibility is so important for medical professionals: not only can they use social networks to interact with colleagues but also these outlets can also help them reach current and prospective patients.

References

  1. Healthcare Client Services. Who are the Physicians Using Social Media? https://www.kantarmedia.com/us/thinking-and-resources/blog/who-are-the-physicians-using-social-media. Published January 12, 2018. Accessed April 26, 2018.
  2. Mayo Clinic. About MCSMN. https://socialmedia.mayoclinic.org/about-mcsmn/. Accessed April 26, 2018.