In China, healthcare professionals (HCPs) are active on platforms that are popular locally such as Weibo as well as global platforms like Twitter, even though Twitter is still banned in China. Using a sample dataset of 8,000 professionals, we have studied the behaviours of online HCPs in China. Analysing and understanding these behaviours opens up opportunities to engage HCPs.
While HCPs are online in rural provinces, the majority of HCPs are located in the east, clustering around the major cities such as Beijing or Guangdong. HCPs in China joined Weibo from its inception in 2009 which differs to Twitter, where it took a few years before it gained popularity among healthcare professionals. The biggest uptake occurred in 2011, with 21% of HCPs from our dataset joining Weibo. Monthly active users have continued to grow and in December 2018 Weibo had 462 million users compared to Twitter’s 321 million.
With this sharp uptake of Weibo amongst the HCPs, how active are they? Looking at the volume of posts that have been composed, known as weibos, more than 44% of HCPs have posted over 2,000 times each. Around one in four HCPs have more than 10,000 followers with nine exceeding 300,000, some of which have accrued huge following networks into the millions.
Physicians, including surgeons, are the most active HCP role on Weibo when compared with nurses, pharmacists and allied health professionals.
As well as Weibo, HCPs in China are active on 991kang, a blog site, where they write articles for peers and patients for medical education. There are thousands of HCPs writing articles on this site and many have Weibo profiles. Having accounts on both platforms increases their digital footprint to allow their knowledge and experience to be seen by a wider community.
HCPs in China also use other sites such as Haodf and Zhihu where they are able to share their knowledge and experience with patients and peers. Haodf is a health care community platform that directs patients to medical sites, hospitals and information to help find a doctor. Some of the authors of this information are doctors. Zhihu is a question-and-answer website that can be compared to Quora which is blocked in mainland China. There is the option to follow other users on Zhihu and the visual below shows that HCPs on Zhihu are well connected with each other. Click the image below to download a the full-sized network map.
With the large and growing dataset available by tracking the conversations of Chinese HCPs online, this is the moment to start learning from the information they are sharing, the events they are discussing and their opinions and concerns. As CREATION tracks the healthcare professional conversation, we will keep providing you with insight into what HCPs in China are thinking.
To discover what you could learn, get in touch and tell us what you would like to know or check out our whitepapers and webinars.