Social Media Use on the Rise among US Doctors

2013-01-02 by EPR Staff

laptopSocial media is used by many types of industries for various purposes. A survey published in the Journal of Medical Internet Research shows that US doctors use social media on a daily basis. Approximately one in four doctors do that to find out what’s new in the medical field. 500 oncologists and primary-care doctors were queried for this study, and the researchers at the Johns Hopkins Kimmel Cancer Center in Baltimore found out that, apart from scanning medical information, 14% of doctors also offer new information via social media daily.

In what frequency of usage is concerned, 61% of the respondents said they use social media at least once a week or more to look for information, while 46% contribute information once a week or more. Over 50% of the doctors queried said they use physician-only communities exclusively and only 7% said they use the micro-blogging network Twitter.

The survey also revealed that oncologists use social media mainly to keep up with what’s new, while primary-care doctors are more likely to use it to get in touch with and learn from peers. Moreover, 60% of the doctors see social media as beneficial, helping them to provide better care.

“What did surprise us was the heavy use of online physician-only communities,” study author Dr. Robert Miller, an assistant professor of oncology and oncology medical information stated in a Johns Hopkins Medicine news release. “It’s possible that many physicians feel more comfortable with that type of social media instead of a more public space like Twitter or Facebook.”

However, the surveys were conducted a year and a half ago, therefore it is very likely that the numbers have changed in the meantime. These findings are useful though, as they show doctors are using social media in ways that are beneficial to them and their patients – they stay current on high-quality information, helping doctors improve the quality of care they provide.