The simple answer is yes. We know this from our own research and observation as well as the good work of Dimitry of TrustedMD and Fard at Healthcare VOX. Physicians has been a traditionally non-tech savvy crowd except when you take inot account generational change. Then they start to look like trailblazers. For instance, my doctor - Dr. K - old-school all the way. He barely says a full sentence to me when I am in the office and has a fleet of "girls" in the front office to operate the fax machine and other high-tech equipment. But any doctor 40 and under is walking in to the profession with PDA in hand, email-smart and even with their MySpace page up and accruing "friends" (okay, that's for the 28-year-old doc). This is yet another case of a demographic commonly misunderstood as "not online."
Fard Johnmar did do a survey of approximately 200 respondents. It is available here. But it didn't speak to how many doctors. It does have some insight into what they are doing and why. Here's a nugget:
"61% of respondents write about their personal experiences. In addition, 56% blog about health news, 55% post articles on health business and 51% focus on health policy."
There are the docs like GruntDoc and Kevin MD who are A-list Doctor Bloggers. They have each been doing it for a while and share about their experience (e.g. GruntDoc is an ER doc) and their POV. They are avid bloggers and post prolifically. (GruntDoc has approximately 1,145 links in from other blogs and sites. Anything over 100 qualifies as influential)
There are doctor-to-doctor blogs were physicians are sharing about nuances of treatment and diagnosis. My favorite is Scalpel or Sword from an ER Doc in Texas (111 links in). He portrays many of the cases he deals with including photos and diagnostic images. Check out this post where he diagnoses lymphoma and make sure you look at the 22 comments, most from other healthcare pros. Another favorite is the Movin' Meat blog from a physician in the Northwest.
And they are doctors who post on healthcare policy and trends from consumer driven healthcare or marketplace. (e.g. NHS BlogDoc (UK))Truth is this category is dominated by consultants and policy folks not actual physicians, themselves.
And there are plenty of other categories of doctor postings - on education, pharmaceutical companies, and running a small business. This leaves out the ton of other healthcare professional blogs such as nurses, consultants, hospital administrators, Insurance company execs (okay, I made up that last one).
And now, we see doctor communities or social networks emerging. The most obvious one right now is Sermo:
"Welcome to the only online community where physicians around the nation exchange the latest medical insights with each other and improve patient outcomes - 24/7....This is a place where specialties become communities and physicians ask and answer questions of each other in real time -- without any advertising or pharmaceutical promotion. The bottom line is that physicians can now access their colleagues' medical expertise the minute they need it, and working together, make decisions in a powerful new way."
Check out their FAQs as they really do try to tackle some of the hard questions surrounding liability and others.
How Many Doctor Blogs & Social Media?
How many doctors, you ask? Impossible to really tell. TrustedMD has about 100 member blogs but they are all over the map. Search Google and you will get 35M results on doctor bloggers which doesn't mean very much (after all, how many are about Doctor Who). So how many? Somwhere north of 100 and well south of 35M. But as the ways to interact with social media grow from blogs to social networks like Sermo, many more physicians will read and create user-generated content online. The local, medical society-dominated social network will continue but fade to the background as physicians form country-specific networks (different healthcare systems) or in some cases global networks driven by different affinities (e.g. type of practice, disease focus, overall sensibilty)
- Best Medical Blog
- Best New Medical Blog
- best Literary Medical Blog
- Best Clinical Sciences Blog
- Best Patient Blog
- Best Technologies/Informatics Blog