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Doctors Aren’t Passively Resisting Social Media. Some Are Candidly Bitter About Something

By Stewart Gandolf, Chief Executive Officer
sermo poll

Poll: Do physicians see social networking in their future?

Do doctors see social media in their practice future? Have you (or patients) ever wondered why a particular doctor isn’t using social networks? Some doctor comments are harsh.

Of course many healthcare providers actively use social media routinely and effectively. Patients look online for health and healthcare info, and at least a few thoroughly professional voices are there to meet them…via Facebook, Twitter and similar platforms.

But while marketing professionals see the popularity of social media as a means to improve healthcare, the majority of physicians are still on the sidelines. Recently we posted an item titled Why Doctors Aren’t Buying into Social Media (Yet) and What Needs to Change. It turns out that at least a few providers aren’t just passively turning their backs on social media.

We found some candid, anonymous and genuinely angry comments from a few doctors who sound alarmingly bitter. There’s no way to tell if these comments are typical of a larger sentiment, but I’ll bet you’ve rarely heard a doctor say:

“Use [Facebook] for what? Telling [patients] they should take their meds and eat right...?

1) I am not their nanny.

2) I am already sick and tired of patients not taking responsibility.

3) [Patients] don’t care.”


These are among the comments by physicians that are reported in the thoughtful and insightful post by Ted Eytan, MD: Do doctors see social media in their practice future? My conversation with fellow physicians on Sermo.com. In this post he talks about his experience in facilitating a Sermo survey of physicians (evidently a bit of a tough assignment in itself), with observations about social media and professionals.

The poll (for physicians only), reports 210 responses to: “In the next five years, I see physicians using social networking tools as integral to their work supporting the health of patients in my practice and my community.”

In response, slightly less than half (49%) said “Maybe,” but more than a third (35%) said “Not at all.” Only three percent said “Certainly,” and 12 percent said “Definitely.”

And if there’s a tone of bitterness in the doctors' comments, it may be more about healthcare delivery system than about social media. As one doctor noted: “To ensure that patients and their families have an active role in their own health care--they need to make an appointment; and keep it!!”

And another… “Even if I would get paid for it, I would not do it.”

You’ll want to read Dr. Eytan’s entire post here, but he observes: “It took longer to understand these experiences because of the interstitial growling bordering on screaming. My other challenge is that I can’t discern if the commentary is representative of physicians at large or if it is maybe hyper-representative, due to its anonymous, uncensored nature.”

Dr. Eytan is a Washington, DC family physician with an interest in patient empowerment and patient-centered health information technology. He’s a physician who actively uses Twitter [@tedeytan] and blogs about social media and healthcare.

We'd like to hear what you think. Social media marketing isn’t for everyone, but if you’d like to talk with us about your situation or questions, reach out to us for a second opinion. We’re also on Facebook and @hcsuccess and @stewartgandolf.

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