09.03.2018 | Insight

American healthcare professionals lead the world on social media

By Jamie Doggett

American healthcare professionals lead the world on social media

Newer – faster – better! US business culture’s obsession with innovation has set America’s tech companies firmly in the driving seat of the information revolution. But as the healthcare industry gets up to speed with new tech and big data, are US doctors driving the online global healthcare conversation? A recent CREATION study reveals seven ways that US HCPs are social media world-leaders.


#1 US HCPs are the early adopters of social media

Our data shows that US HCPs pioneered social media ahead of their global peers. As far back as 2007, we observed HCPs joining Twitter. In 2009 US HCPs were joing at a tremendous rate; between February 25th and May 7th, more than 100 new HCP accounts were created per day; the biggest single day was April 17th when 296 American HCPs joined Twitter.

In other countries with many HCPs on this platform the key times of growth occurred later. For example, the UK, which also had a time of growth in early 2009, had some of its largest increases in HCP users in more recent years (2015-2017). More than one in three HCPs on Twitter in Spain joined in 2011, much later than their US colleagues.


#2 the US has the most HCPs online, and they post the most content

Comprising of more than one in three  authors on social media, healthcare professionals in the US certainly appear the most active online, but are they the most engaged? Looking at HCPs in top 15 countries posting on social media by volume of content, the US actually has almost half of the share of voice, nearly matching the next 14 most active countries combined.


#3 the US has the greatest HCP digital opinion leaders

Using various metrics to measure the top digital opinion leaders globally, the three doctors who come to the top of that list are all from the US. Family physician Mike Sevilla uses various platforms to post his original content, but primarily uses Twitter. Bryan Vartabedian, gastroenterologist, has also developed a following on Google+ and Facebook where he posts some of his content. Kevin Pho, accurately self-titled ‘Social media’s leading physician voice’, demonstrates how a multi-channel presence can be built effectively as he commands huge Twitter, Google+ and Facebook followings as well as 130k subscribers to his blog.


#4 US HCPs are the most connected

Looking at the following networks of the above authors we see the locations of their HCP followers, totalling more than 25,000 HCP connections globally. Besides extensive networks within the US itself, there are many HCPs right across the globe following just these three doctors on social media.


#5 US HCPs rate drugs online

Physicians in the US are leading the way in reviewing and rating products online. By mapping HCP posts about named drugs in their public and private social media comments alongside their SERMO Drug Ratings, we see that the number of Drug Ratings on SERMO far outweighs the number of drug mentions in HCPs’ online conversations.


#6 US HCPs use all kinds of platforms

It can be valuable to analyze the way HCPs use social media. In this particular dataset, more than four times as many HCPs were using iPhones compared to Android, one in four were posting live from computers rather than mobile devices, while other HCPs were lining up their posts using social management tools such as Hootsuite.


#7 US HCPs engage pharma the most

Increasingly HCPs are becoming bold on public social media; they discuss real world issues relating to patient cases, products and pharmaceutical companies. The US has led the way in this with its candid conversations, commentary on pharma activities and engagement with pharmaceutical companies on social media.


With US HCPs leading the way on social media there is no better time to understand and appropriate what they are saying. If you are involved in US healthcare, can you afford not to listen to the 127K HCPs who are talking about your products and influencing the world through their follower networks?

To learn how to strategically apply insights from US HCP conversations, register for our free webinar and sign up to receive CREATION Knowledge, a monthly eJournal straight to your inbox.

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Meet the Author

Jamie Doggett

As Associate Director of Insight, Jamie leads the Analytics and Insights Team overseeing the development of insights. He works with teams to ensure the highest standards of research outputs, client delivery, and technology development.

Jamie is a country boy at heart having grown up on the sunny Isle of Wight and enjoys adventures which is reflected in a love for travel and travel literature.

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