As the digital age has transformed the way people and organizations communicate, bringing together like-minded individuals from all over the world, healthcare professionals (HCPs) too have embraced new digital channels to support patients, develop professional networks and share knowledge.
The adoption of digital channels by HCPs has included three key milestones:
1. Doctors using websites to communicate with patients
Doctors first started to use websites to support patient communication in the late 1990’s. Specialist physicians published information about treatments on their websites to support patients, and some also used the channel to promote their expertise.
2. Closed doctors networks
Also first seen in the late 1990’s, closed doctors’ networks such as Sermo in the US and doctors.net.uk in the UK, have since been joined by dozens of other networks, mostly serving single national markets. These closed networks provide an environment for professional discussion among members.
3. Doctors in public social media
Over recent years, HCPs have been moving away from closed doctors’ networks to open, virtual communities. These open communities, usually created by HCPs and hosted in public social media channels such as Twitter and Google+, allow HCPs of all ranks and roles to collaborate internationally.
The early approach to HCP websites has also evolved to embrace social media, with tens of thousands of doctors operating blogs where they share views and encourage discussion among peers.
The openness of today’s digital HCP conversations provides a wealth or opportunity for learning – by HCP peers, patients, and healthcare companies.
To hear more about HCPs in public social media, watch Daniel Ghinn’s talk, Social Media; Changing the Lives of Doctors Worldwide, at #opnhealth hosts TEDxNijmegen