Physicians are highly engaged with social media for both personal and professional use, Business Wire reported regarding a 4,033-clinician study authored and conducted by QuantiaMD, the largest mobile and online physician community, and Care Continuum Alliance, an international association for wellness, prevention and care management.
Nearly 90 percent of physicians use at least one social media site for personal use, while over 65 percent have used at least one to support their professional practice. A burgeoning group of “Connected Clinicians” are using multiple sites for both personal and professional purposes. Physicians see promise in online physician and patient communities for improving patient care, but are struggling with the associated challenges. You can view a report outlining the study at http://www.quantiamd.com/q-qcp/DoctorsPatientSocialMedia.pdf.
Various physician communities, along with consumer sites such as Facebook and LinkedIn, are the online networks most used for professional purposes, and top uses for sites such as these are for education and communicating with colleagues. Over 20 percent of respondents are “Connected Clinicians” who use two or more social media sites for both personal and professional use. This new breed of “Connected Clinicians” is the most enthusiastic about the broadest range of professional applications of social media. They tend to use electronic communications with colleagues and patients more frequently and are more aware of online patient communities.
Only 11 percent of study participants were familiar with online patient communities, but of those with a familiarity, an impressive two-thirds believe these communities have a positive effect on patients. Almost 40 percent of these physicians say they already recommend these communities to their patients and another 40 percent would consider recommending them, suggesting a growing acceptance by the medical community.
Nearly 30 percent of clinicians access online physician communities. A notable 92 percent of physicians are interested in interacting with colleagues in online professional networks to learn from experts and peers, discuss clinical issues and share practice management challenges. However, more than 70 percent of physicians say patient privacy issues would hold them back from using these networks, and two-thirds are worried about liability issues. Lack of time and issues with compensation are also areas of concern.
“We were pleased to see such a high rate of physicians’ professional use of social media, and, though we suspected there would be low clinician awareness for patient communities, we didn’t realize just how low this awareness would be,” says Mary Modahl, Chief Communications Officer, QuantiaMD. “However, we were encouraged by the favorable views of those clinicians who knew about patient communities, as well as by their high rate of recommendation to patients. Our study suggests that patient communities that generate greater awareness among treating physicians could gain significantly from doctors recommending patients to their sites. This in turn would help patient communities fulfill their promise of improving healthcare.”
Over half of the respondents believe there is potential for a wide range of physician-patient online interactions. Chief among these are sharing educational materials and monitoring patients’ health, behavior and drug adherence. Top challenges holding clinicians back from interacting with patients online include concerns about liability (73 percent), privacy (71 percent) and lack of compensation (41 percent). Only 20 percent of physicians see online communication with patients as inappropriate, underlining the potential of this medium if the challenges can be overcome.