It’s no secret that practicing physicians – at least those who are active online – are no fans of the Dr. Oz show. For several years, he’s been a lightning rod of controversy based on his hyperbolic promotion of health treatments that are – let’s say “questionable” – in terms of their proven effectiveness. But when Dr. Oz took to twitter this week to solicit questions for his show, he learned something very important. As twitter user Freddie Fit said, “Dear Dr. Oz, at what point today did you realize that the Twitter demographic is different from your show’s regular audience? #OzsInbox.”
Over the course of the next 2 days, the twitterverse apparently unleashed a lot of pent-up emotion on Dr. Oz … at this writing, there have been 16 blog mentions, 40 news stories and nearly 8,500 tweets using the hashtag #OzsInbox.
I myself read about the kerfuffle early this morning from this Vox piece (Here’s what happened when Dr. Oz asked Twitter for health questions) by Julia Belluz. Naturally, I was really curious about whether any doctors had weighed in on the subject. I was expecting to see 10 or 15 docs posting on the hashtag, so I was really surprised to note that, by 8:30 this morning, we were tracking almost 500 tweets from 102 doctors (including 22 from outside the US – as far away as India and Thailand!). After a relatively thorough scan, I have concluded that roughly 0% of the physicians’ tweets were positive towards the nation’s most famous “celbri-doc.” This post from personal favorite Zubin Damania, MD (aka @ZDoggMD) was fairly representative: “#OzsInbox When you’re doing an internal mammary artery bypass graft, does…crap, I forgot, you’re not a real doctor anymore, never mind!“
There’s a good lesson in this for those who want to engage their audience online, which is to actually know who your audience is online. Twitter is NOT the Oprah Channel. Here are some of the top tweets generated by doctors over the course of the last couple of days. This first one was actually generated by Toronto pediatrician Daniel Flanders, MD – but really took off when Canadian family doctor Sunny Chan, MD retweeted it with the #OzsInbox hashtag.
Ob/Gyn Jennifer Gunter, MD got into the act as well – she posted 66 times using the hashtag, including the gem below. And the king of them was Houston doctor Sunil Sahai, MD, whose post has over 250 retweets as this is published.
Dr. Sahai also contributed my personal favorite tweet, in terms of pure cleverness and humor:
In terms of the statistics, for those who are interested, the family doctors, pediatricians and internal medicine docs led the charge:
To date, we haven’t seen any public response from Dr. Oz, but we’ll keep watching as this unfolds …