Commentary

One in Four Docs Use Social Media Professionally Every Day

One quarter (24.1%) of doctors said they use social media in a professional capacity every day, including searching for medical information, according to a new survey of social media use by medical professionals funded by Pfizer and published last month in the Journal of Medical Internet Research.

The Pfizer survey of 485 docs, including 186 oncologists and 299 primary care physicians, also found that 14.2% of docs surveyed said they share medical information via social media on a daily basis. Meanwhile 61% of docs surveyed said they turn to social media to search for medical information at least once a week, and 46% share medical information via social media on a weekly basis.

Turning to their attitudes towards social media, 57.5% said social media is a good way to get current information, 57.9% stated that social media enabled them to care for patients more effectively, and 60% said it helped them deliver a higher quality of care to patients. In terms of which social sites are favored, just 6.8% said they currently use Twitter, compared to 52% for physician-specific communities like Sermo, Ozmosis, or medical society membership sites.

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Interestingly, the doctors surveyed were equally receptive to the idea of using social media for professional purposes, regardless of age, gender, specialty, or how busy they are.

Despite these positive findings, the study cautioned that there were significant subsets of physicians who remain skeptical about using social media for professional purposes or are dead-set against it. Thus, depending on the specific application in question, some 5%-33% said they “‘will never use’ the application for the exchange of information, advice, ideas, reports, and scientific discoveries with other physicians in the medical community.” Large proportions of docs surveyed were also skeptical or hesitant to use any social site that wasn’t an exclusive, doctors-only site.

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