Over on KevinMD.com, Dr. Eytan put together a quick survey of doctors on Sermo about HCP attitudes about social media. It would seem that HCPs are not interested in establishing an online presence in the social media world. In fact, as we have seen in other reported instances where HCPs attempt to stymie patients from even mentioning them on social networks, it would seem that there might be a real wall between HCPs and social media.
The first question is: are these cases outliers or are they indicative of a broader distaste for social and the web? I have no real numbers at my disposal (if you have them, share please!), but I can make some inferences. Since Dr. Eytan’s survey isn’t of HCPs overall, but of HCPs in Sermo, we can see that these people who don’t care for social media are fairly savvy internet users overall in that they are on Sermo and participating. That puts them one step ahead of most (though recent hissy fits about “sudden realizations” that Sermo was collecting data for marketing purposes may indicate that Sermo users aren’t completely internet savvy, I will assume for the sake of argument that if you are online and participating in an online community, you’re in the top quarntile of HCPs).
If these HCPs, ones who know more about social media than most have such a poor attitude towards social media, we can assume that those with even less exposure have even lower attitudes towards social media.
Any disagreements with my logic thus far? Okay.
Add the fact that HCP’s Facebook pages are better ranked than their professional pages on their practice websites and you’ve got an interesting shift building: HCPs who embrace social media will have a huge advantage against those who shun social media. Not only will Social-Savvy HCPs have better ranked pages online, when people try to make a decision about what doctor to choose, they are going to be more likely to pick the one they are the most familiar with, which would be the one that shows pics of the HCP fishing or hanging out with their dog or whatnot. Patients are going to pick Social-Savvy HCPs because they will presume that there will be a better connection with them and the HCP, if for no other reason that they can see who the HCP is and maybe (maybe!) even connect to them directly on social media sites (Can’t you see an HCP’s wall being full of posts from people who say things like “Thanks, Dr. XYZ! You made me feel so much better and that prescription really alleviated my issues! You’re the best!”? Who isn’t going to choose that HCP ten times out of ten versus the one with the single “professional in a lab coat with a stethoscope in an office” pic and a paragraph about what schools they went to?).
So let’s call this an opportunity for revolution. The Social-Savvy HCP can step in and take a lot of business from those (and they seem to be legion) who would avoid connecting to social media in any way. This is going to be the new “way things are” very soon. Non-social-savvy HCPs should stop pretending it isn’t about to happen and join the rest of teh world online.