Medicine is a communication-intensive practice. Or at least is should be. Medical staff including nurses, clinicians, specialists, and administrators should talk to one another often to ensure strong patient outcomes.
But sometimes communication between doctors and other essential medical staff gets fragmented. It becomes difficult for all clinical staff involved in a patient’s healthcare to get in touch with each other easily and securely.
Could social media possibly solve that issue? Let’s take a closer look.
In August 2011 QuantiaMD performed a study entitled “Doctors, Patients, and Social Media.” The goal of the study was to explore the relevance of social media in healthcare and particularly how clinicians use social media to improve the quality of healthcare.
4,033 clinicians were surveyed and some of their key responses noted as follows:
- Some 28% of physicians already use professional physician communities, with the highest enthusiasm around using them to learn from experts and peers.
- There is significant need for secure, convenient forms of electronic communication that clinicians can use to communicate with each other, and with patients.
- Over 20% of clinicians use 2 or more sites each for personal and professional use; these “Connected Clinicians” are the most eager to use social media to improve health care.
How connected clinicians reach out
Social media is a great place for medical professionals to reach out to peers with similar or different specialties. Matthew O’Donnell with healthcareers.com compiled a list of the top five sites for physicians to connect with one another:
This social media site offers video presentations (in Power Point format) created for doctors in educational institutions, private practices or community hospitals. The presentations cover a wide range of medical topics and include discussions, commentaries and real life cases.
Below each video is a forum for clinicians to ask and/or answer questions related to each presentation. QuantiaMD also offers a section entitled, “Cases and Challenges” that provides members an opportunity to test their medical knowledge and the chance to compete against other members within the network.
Described as a social network where “good doctors go to become great doctors” Ozmosis is unique in that it also verifies that each member is a licensed physician practicing in the United States.
Each member on the site is identified by their real name, credentials and their confirmed specialty area. The benefit of using Ozmosis is knowing that contributions and connections are created in a network of verified and trusted professionals.
This is probably the most recognizable social media site on this list. In contrast to some of the other websites that are featured, anyone from the public is able to join. However, thanks to the Google Circles feature a physician can separate contacts into personal and professional relationships.
Sermo claims to be the “largest online physician community in the US” with over 120,000 networking members covering 68 specialties. Much like Ozmosis, Sermo is another social networking site exclusively for MDs and DOs in the United States.
Due to the vast member base in the Sermo community and by using the feature called Curbsides, a user can find colleagues for advice on difficult patient cases or locating a discussion on specific medical topics.
This site is comprised of a professional networking community of student doctors, residents, interns and physicians from around the world. Doc2doc offers forums, discussions and blogs where doctors can meet with colleagues and discuss clinical and non-clinical interests.
What sets this social media website apart from the rest is that it encourages doctors to educate themselves about international medical practices by connecting them with physicians from different parts of the globe.
Social media can provide tremendous benefits for physicians looking to acquire knowledge from their peers. By sharing stories, ideas and even personal experiences doctors can improve communication with one another to create a smarter community of well connected doctors.
Over to you: Do you think that social media is an effective tool for doctors to communicate and learn from one another? Please share your thoughts in the comment box below.