***UPDATE: This post has been updated to include a graphic showing the top 10 journalists followed by US doctors; it’s below.***
Last Friday I introduced the updated version of our “Who Doctors Actually Follow” series by noting the 5 media outlets that US doctors follow most (see the end of this post for detailed methodology notes). Check that post out here: Who doctors ACTUALLY follow – February 2016
When comparing this year’s list to the original from 2014, It was interesting to see that while @NYTHealth, @NPRHealth and @NYTimes retained their positions in the top 5, @WSJ and @CNNBrk were bumped out by @NEJM and @HarvardHealth. Well done!
Perhaps even more interesting than the outlets that doctors follow, though, are the individual reporters that have the broadest reach among the online physicians in our custom panel. Over the last several years, we’ve seen some important trends emerging relative to physicians’ use of public social media channels. Among them are that doctors, because they’re trusted by patients more than any other source of online information about health, have developed significant audiences on their own. The other, though, is that the journalists who cover healthcare ALSO are extremely interested in these online physicians and are increasingly using them as sources and/or validators of important stories about health. [NOTE: These phenomena have been documented at length in the MDigitalLife report Missing the Forest for the Trees: The change in physician roles that the healthcare industry missed, as well as in multiple posts on this blog]
What that means is that online doctors have achieved an inordinately high level of influence in online conversations about health. Furthermore, it means that the sources of information they rely on can be very, very interesting to the companies who want to understand how to reach those very physicians. As reported in last week’s post, 86 of the twitter accounts most-followed by our panel of doctors (see below for methodology details) belong to reporters (or, to be more precise, individuals who are most closely identified with the media; Michael Pollan and Arianna Huffington aren’t exactly journalists, but they’re closer to that label than any other as it pertains to this conversation).
In our original 2014 series, the most-followed reporters were @AndersonCooper, @LizSzabo, @RachelMaddow, @EzraKlein and @NickKristof. This year, once again, the top 3 retained their positions, but this year data guru Nate Silver and publishing powerhouse Arianna Huffington elbowed their way into the top 5. Check them – and the rest of the top 10 – out below:
A SPECIAL LIMITED-TIME TREAT for PEOPLE IN THE HEALTH ECOSYSTEM (Doctors, patients, reporters, caregivers, people who work for hospitals or healthcare companies, etc.):
Our team will be launching a new demo at this year’s South by Southwest Interactive conference. If you’d like a sneak preview that shows you how YOUR twitter handle compares to your peers in the health ecosystem, just share a little information about yourself (http://j.mp/EcoJoin1) so that we can create a (completely confidential) mapping for you.
Follow Greg Matthews on Twitter @chimoose
More detailed methodology notes:
Using the proprietary MDigitalLife Health Ecosystem Database, we created a special panel of 20,000 twitter accounts operated by US Physicians matched to an NPI number. We then aggregated every account followed by the doctors in that panel (~5,000,000 twitter accounts), and created a list of the 1,000 twitter accounts with the most US physician followers. Of the thousand, 211 belonged to accounts that are not a part of the health ecosystem (almost all of them entertainers like @JimmyFallon or athletes like @KingJames. The remaining 789 all fell comfortably into one of our health ecosystem categories. These posts are based on insights derived from that list.