UPDATE: Post 2 in this series is also up: Who doctors ACTUALLY follow – Reporters Edition

Lists have ruled the internet for years – there’s no secret about that. In fact, one of the most popular sites on the web (Buzzfeed – who can resist headlines like The 29 Most Important Twerking Moments of 2013?) has been so successful publishing lists that it’s now a victim of a satire site operated by The Onion!

In general, I don’t have any problem with lists – they can be a really useful way to spot trends and to find valuable information. However, they can also be completely worthless linkbait. I recently saw a list that was intended to be a “top twitter handles to follow” that got me thinking … because it made no mention of the criteria that went into establishing the list. Personally, I much prefer to take a little bit more scientific approach to my listmaking – so I decided that it was time for me to make some lists of my own. Instead of guessing what accounts healthcare professionals might like to follow, why not report on exactly who they DO follow?

The MDigitalLife database is the first and only database in the world to link physicians’ “digital footprints” to their national physician registry, and as of today has mapped the digital footprints for over 220,000 US physicians (and is preparing to launch in Europe). Using that database, I’ll  be sharing 5 lists over the next 5 days – all based on who those real doctors ACTUALLY FOLLOW on twitter. No editorializing, no guesswork. So without further ado, let me introduce you to the Top 5  Media Outlets followed by US physicians:


  1. The New York Times Health News – @NYTimesHealth (Also the #1 most followed handle in any category)
  2. NPR Health – @NPRHealth (The #4 most followed overall)
  3. The New York Times – @NYTimes (The #9 most followed overall)
  4. The Wall Street Journal Health News – @WSJHealth (The #10 most followed overall)
  5. CNN Breaking News – @CNNBrk (The #14 most followed overall)

Are these top 5 terribly surprising? Perhaps not. But it IS pretty interesting that The Onion has more physician followers than CNNThe Journal of the American Medical Association or Health Affairs Magazine! If you’re interested in digging deeper into the list of who doctors follow (or finding out whether YOU are on it!), just tweet a link to this post and/or send a DM to @chimoose or @MDigitalLife and let me know what you’re looking for.

Make sure to read the other posts in this series:

Methodology Notes:

  • “Media outlets” for the purpose of this analysis includes all handles belonging to organizations whose primary function is to report the news. It includes newspapers, magazines, blogs (except those published by physicians), TV networks/stations/shows and Radio stations. It does NOT contain the journals of medical societies (if it did, @NEJM would have been number 5).
  • Follower lists were generated on January 13, 2014