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Social Media And Lazy Doctors

When it comes to the social media landscape, doctors are scarce. Few on Twitter and fewer with blogs. Maybe we’re socially lazy. Or maybe we’re just taking it all in.

Mitch Joel of Six Pixels of Separation caught my eye last week with his article ”In Praise of Lazy” and reminded me that despite the how we may want to see things, most of us aren’t interested in creating content. In fact, he describes a 1 percent rule — only 1 percent of the audience will take time to actually create content.

I suspect that if we were to take the time and do the survey properly, we would find that physicians too are largely new media consumers — or spectators, joiners or collectors in the Forrester sense of the word. Physicians, in fact, might adhere to something of a 0.1 percent rule. Like Peter Sellers as “Chance the Gardner” in the 1979 classic, Being There, we “like to watch.”

I did an experiment recently. I emailed a half dozen of my colleagues and asked them to peek at a recent controversial 33 Charts post and then offer their comments below the post. Not one did. However, four emailed their thoughts — passionate, insightful stuff. When I asked why they wouldn’t formally comment, they demurred. They expressed a mishmash of concerns over their privacy and “being seen.”

Doctors have a real problem with this kind of transparent exposure. They’re willing to listen, it seems. But dialogue’s another issue. So maybe it isn’t Sermo’s design after all, but rather the social constitution of the MD.

This is really unfortunate. Collectively, physicians have a voice that could be leveraged for real change on a variety of levels. I have several docs in my referral area in Houston who would thrive on the process of putting their life experience and passion into print, sound, or video.

While I don’t think we should expect to ever see large numbers of physicians creating content, will this change? Probably:

Education. The role of social in public health and education needs to be part of primary medical school training. Medical students should be actively involved in the creation of media and the dialog it creates.

Exposure. Those of us involved in this medium need to share it with our colleagues. It will take somewhere somehow.

Evolution. Patience is also a strategy. Physicians are late adopters. Look for this pattern of watching over creating to change over the coming decade.

Your thoughts?  Especially if you’re a physician and you’re willing to talk (email not accepted).

*This blog post was originally published at 33 Charts*


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One Response to “Social Media And Lazy Doctors”

  1. I’m a physician blogger. I practice dermatology full time and blog as part of a very small ecommerce site that I created.

    My evolution as a blogger has been interesting for me to observe in retrospect. I’ve had to move past the writing style required by my medical education and accepted by our physician culture. My training to present information accompanied by detailed support, historical context, findings and a discussion is simply more than blog readers want. They’re looking for interesting or educational, quick reads.

    My first posts were long, complete overviews of a topic. Now, my content for one post is what I would have covered in just one of the many paragraphs of my original posting content. I think this short, one point blog style is what readers want in a blog post. It’s also more fun for me and much easier for me to keep up with as a blogger.

    The value I provide as a physician blogger is physician quality information based on my clinical observations and practice experiences. My posts also provide reiteration for my patients and I often refer them to my blog for information between office visits.

    Blogging has become a creative outlet for me. I typically choose seasonal topics that patients bring into my office practice. I try to keep it fun and within my IT comfort level. I love a new challenge and social media changes so quickly that there’s always something interesting and new for me to work on.

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