Survey finds heavy use of online physician-only communities

Published on December 10, 2012 at 1:52 AM · No Comments

A new survey shows that about one in four physicians uses social media daily or multiple times a day to scan or explore medical information, and 14 percent use social media each day to contribute new information, according to an oncologist at the Johns Hopkins Kimmel Cancer Center.

The survey of 485 oncologists and primary care physicians, also found that on a weekly basis or more, 61 percent of physicians scan for information and 46 percent contribute new information. More than half said they use online physician-only communities but only 7 percent said they use Twitter. The work was published recently in the Journal of Medical Internet Research.

Oncologists are more likely to use social media to keep up with innovation, while primary care physicians are more likely to use social media to get in touch with peers and learn from them, the survey found.

Since the survey was conducted a year and a half ago, it's likely that more physicians are using social media now, says Robert S. Miller, M.D., an assistant professor of oncology and oncology medical information officer at the Johns Hopkins Kimmel Cancer Center. The amount of information required for medical practice is growing exponentially, he says, and social media provides "a very valid construct for physicians to keep current."

"What did surprise us was the heavy use of online physician-only communities," Miller says. "It's possible that many physicians feel more comfortable with that type of social media instead of a more public space like Twitter or Facebook."

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