[Guest Post from Rob Silas, Group Director, Analytics at WCG]

As physicians increase their use of social media, they use it in ways that benefit their patients as well as their practices. Physicians are recognizing the opportunities they have to engage with a variety of audiences: patients, prospective patients, other doctors, health care thought leaders, etc. A June 2014 study done by MedData Group shows that 54% of physicians use social media for work purposes, and they are using it in the following ways:

SilasBlogGraph

Source: MedData Group, June 2014

It’s interesting to note that over 50% of the physicians using social for work purposes are actively participating by engaging with peers, marketing the practice, or providing thought leadership for patients.

And by looking at demographic trends within the physician community, it appears that the trend of more doctor participation in social will continue. According to a 2013 survey by ZocDoc, 87% of doctors aged 26-55 currently use social media. So with more doctors than ever in social media, participation rates higher than average, and favorable demographics for these trends to continue, what can we expect next from physicians in their social media usage? There are two current trends that will continue to accelerate:

  1. There is much being said and written about the impact of social media on the patient-doctor relationship, and how social can be a catalyst to dynamically change the patient care model. While the opportunities are significant, there is much to be determined in how to best leverage them. Some great content is being published by physicians on these topics, and Dr. Jay Parkinson is one of the leaders in re-defining the model using social media. Check him out at blog.jayparkinsonmd.com.
  2. At the same time, there are great discussions taking place among physicians on issues of patient care, and how to use social media and mobile technology to continue innovating in the delivery of better and more effective care. Check out Dr. Bob Wachter on his Wachter’s World blog or Dr. Kevin Pho on his website: www.kevinmd.com to see conversations among physicians on what they are doing today to improve the patient experience.

One of the great benefits of social media is its ability to act as an “equalizer” across different audiences, taking down silos and encouraging collaboration. This is critically important in health care, as physicians, patients, and society at-large all need to be collaborating in order for meaningful change to take place. We know that patients are in social media, and now doctors are using social to take leadership roles in having the important conversations and taking actions to continue transforming the delivery of patient care.

My colleague, Greg Matthews, recently released a report called “Missing the Forest for the Trees” which dives deeper into the changing physician roles in social media. Matthews is the founder and director of MDigitalLife, a database that has indexed the digital footprint of nearly half a million physicians around the world in order to reveal how physicians are using digital and social media to improve the health of their patients, the success of their practice, and to regain their voice as a critical player in the health system.

To learn more about the physician’s role in social media, fill out the form below and download the FREE report!