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Social media is a great resource for healthcare professionals (HCPs) where they can share information, and like everyone else, keep up to date with current healthcare news. In the digital age, social media platforms and healthcare can be a powerful combination, with the voice of HCPs having the power to influence change.

The exponential rise of the medical influencer

COVID-19 presented a unique situation for healthcare and pharma, in that it was a new disease with very little clinical information known. HCPs were needing a platform to not only find, but share the latest clinical information with their peers and the public, quicker than the traditional use of publication in medical journals. Thus, through the darkness of the pandemic, everyone was paying more attention to the ‘medical influencer’ – HCPs who have built large online followings on social media platforms like Twitter, TikTok, Instagram, and YouTube. Importantly, their medical credentials give extra weight to their thoughts on important health issues in the media. HCPs turn to social media platforms to highlight to the world the many problems they may face in providing treatment to their patients (e.g. lack of appropriate PPE during COVID-19). They also use their influential voices to fight against the stream of misinformation being shared on social media for a variety of therapy areas.

One of the more popular social media platforms for HCPs is Twitter; an online community where they can share clinical information, find out the latest research, and can ask their peers questions and, nearly instantaneously, gain their insights. Furthermore, the use of a global hashtag (#medtwitter) can allow thousands of HCPs from around the world, including ‘influencers’ and Digital Opinion Leaders (DOL) to be a part of the conversation. Read more about the power of #medtwitter, bringing HCPs together, captured by CREATION.co.

The benefits of social media for doctors moves beyond the sharing of information and includes:

  • Building professional networks
  • Creating a catalogue of accessible knowledge
  • Campaigning for disease awareness
  • Voicing their needs to the greater community
  • Combating against medical misinformation and ‘fake news
  • Keeping up to date on research and development in their area of healthcare 

Learn how CREATION.co utilises HCPs on social media

By using our unique technology, CREATION Pinpoint®, a global database of more than 3 million human-verified HCP online profiles, you are able to track billions of HCP conversations worldwide in both public and private social media networks. By leveraging CREATION Pinpoint® we can identify your biggest online HCP influencers and track their digital interactions. Ultimately, CREATION.co can help you learn what your customers really think and turn the data into actionable insights. Learn more about using social media listening in your market research here.

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Know the risks of using social media

Along with the many benefits of social media for healthcare professionals, there will always be risks including the high rates of misinformation, difficulties in verifying the credibility of sources, and an overwhelmingly high volume of information for a user to sift through on a daily basis.

Specifically for HCPs, ethical guidelines published by various organisations, such as the British Medical Society (BMA) and American Medical Association (AMA) detail the responsibilities HCPs have to their patients when using social media. HCPs have the same legal and ethical obligations of patient confidentiality on social media as they would anywhere else. Therefore, when discussing individuals or specific patient cases, no matter the intended audience, patient consent and anonymity is a must. Furthermore, social media can easily blur the lines between the professional and the personal; with HCPs needing to maintain a clear boundary between them, their patients, and the general public.

Private social networking sites for HCPs

Alongside the popular social networking sites like Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter, there have been a number of social media platforms for healthcare specifically launched to help connect doctors, medical students, and HCPs. Generally, these online, ‘private’ communities provide a safe and secure place for HCPs to build their professional network, gather information, and connect with experts in their field.

One such platform is Sermo. In this exclusive virtual doctors’ lounge there are currently over 1 million HCPs from 150 countries, and it is continuing to grow. On Sermo, HCPs can share information and ask anonymous questions regarding patient cases. Notably, Sermo hosts the world’s only and largest database of drug reviews from doctors, with over 1 million ratings and counting.

Related FAQs

Using HCP social media insights healthcare companies can gain an in-depth understanding of their customers to answer key business questions and keep ahead of online trends to inform strategic activities across the year.  By realising your HCPs’ concerns you can provide solutions to their unmet needs. Tracking their digital engagement around events or campaigns allows for learning to support marketing planning and strategies for the future.

With the use of social media in healthcare comes a number of risks — the main limitation of health information found on social media being the lack of quality and reliability. Specifically, for HCPs, they have the same legal and ethical obligations to their patients on social media as they would anywhere else, including maintaining confidentiality and anonymity, no matter the intended audience. Furthermore, social media can blur the lines between personal and professional, and it is important for HCPs to maintain that professional boundary not only with their patients but the general public too.

In healthcare, social media platforms such as Twitter, Facebook, Sermo, and TikTok are valuable resources allowing doctors, students, and healthcare professionals (HCPs) to connect with both their peers and the general public on a global scale. More and more HCPs are using social media platforms to have open, honest discussions with their peers regarding their experiences with patient cases and various therapies, as well as to voice their needs and opinions.