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Social Media Fever Slow to Spread Among Doctors

Physicians who use social most likely to access LinkedIn, physician communities

Don’t expect the doctor to diagnose you via social media anytime soon. A June 2014 study by MedData Group found that 44% of US physicians still weren’t using social media sites for professional purposes.

Among doctors who were social networking as part of their job, profession-related sites were the platforms of choice. Around one-third of respondents used LinkedIn, and 29% were active on online physician communities, compared with just 3% who used online patient portals. Social sites that tend to be popular among the general public also saw low usage.

Avoiding social media wasn’t due to a lack of knowledge, with less than one-quarter of doctors saying they didn’t use such platforms because they weren’t familiar with them. Instead, patient privacy and a lack of time were the leading reasons US physicians said they stayed away from using social networks for professional purposes.

Q1 2014 polling by Digital Insights Group found that the general consensus among physicians was that social just wasn’t an important resource when it came to doing their jobs. Just 14% of US primary care physicians said that social networks were a somewhat or very important clinical resource, compared with 30% who said they weren’t important at all.

When doctors do turn to digital resources to make decisions, they’re most likely using search engines, according to April 2014 research also conducted by MedData Group. Among US physicians surveyed, a whopping 78% said search engines were the online resource they used in the medical decision-making process. Meanwhile, just 5% cited social media.

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