Healthcare providers are increasingly using social networks to find research and treatment information, career tips, and the chance to collaborate and communicate securely with colleagues. Research shows that physicians are often too busy to keep up-to-date with medical journals and attend conferences, and are more likely to adopt new procedures and treatments if information is shared with them through social networks.
A recent nine-month study examined how physicians at Northwestern Memorial Hospital were influenced to adopt innovative diagnostic practices. Out of 36 doctors, 20 began using a novel serum assay test when it was promoted by a few influential providers on social networks. The assay’s effectiveness treating bacterial infections and sepsis had previously been communicated in medical journals, but had not been adopted by the hospital. The study concluded that recommendations from colleagues via social networks speeds adoption and improves quality of care.
Sermo and Doximity are just a few of the popular medical social networks available for providers. Sermo, a network with almost 400,000 participants around the world, advertises itself as “the place to talk about real world medicine” and “a virtual doctors’ lounge.” It is a space where doctors can talk openly with other healthcare providers about topics that are important to them – anything from the clinical aspect of practicing medicine to the business side of things.
Doximity is the largest community of physicians in the US, hosting more than 50 percent of American physicians. The company is committed to “a future where medical communication is effortless — fast, simple, seamless and secure.” These social networks and others are making physicians more receptive and adaptive to information, connecting the medical community and catalyzing critical changes in healthcare.