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4 Reasons Why Doctors Don’t Use LinkedIn

ImagesWhere are the doctors on LinkedIn? If you spend any time there, you’ll find that we are few and far between. Sure, there are the entrepreneurs, the physician executives, and the social wonks, but not many practicing physicians. Why not?  

1. Physicians are hyperlocal. Most MDs live and work in relatively small, geographically defined locations. Their success is sustained through word of mouth and the cultivation of a limited number of personal relationships. The average practicing physician has no need to sell himself beyond his local market. The depth of their bio is irrelevant to their local success.

2. Physicians are static. Once established, physicians aren’t likely to pick up and move as other professionals might need to do. Many physicians spend their careers in a couple of locations. Hustling for the next level isn’t how doctors think.

3. Physicians are relatively similar in their skill sets (but not in their skill). For the most part, what a pediatrician does in The Woodlands, Texas, is pretty close to what a pediatrician does in Seattle. Sure some do circumcisions, some don’t. A little extra training in this or that perhaps. But by and large, the job and its training is predictable. Seeing that a physician has 4 years of medical school and 3 years of residency under his or her belt isn’t likely to change anything. And for the average hospital or practice hiring, being Harvard-trained doesn’t necessarily confer an advantage.

4. Patients don’t care. I’ve yet to treat a child who’s parent made a decision to visit me based on the merits of my CV. Patient decisions regarding providers are driven by word of mouth/Web and individual references, not the appearance of a resume or the fluency of a bio. I can hear the echos of the e-patients now suggesting that knowledge is power. Sure, and having a consistent record of a physicians training and background might have some value. But all this information was widely available well before LinkedIn was ever popularized.

While LinkedIn is effective at helping you define and position yourself in a noisy world, the average physician in middle America doesn’t need the definition that LinkedIn provides. What do you think?

*This blog post was originally published at 33 Charts*

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11 Responses to “4 Reasons Why Doctors Don’t Use LinkedIn”

  1. These explanations make sense if the only reasons to use LinkedIn are to: promote your services; land a job; relocate; or impress potential patients with your bio. This feeds right in to the stereotypical view of “networking” — that is, shaking hands with strangers at cheesy social events, passing out business cards indiscriminately and asking people for favors — an activity that many health care professionals find distasteful. Networking is really about connecting with people who share common interests and developing mutually beneficial relationships. To this end, LinkedIn can serve a valuable function in helping you connect with other professionals and share your expertise with the public beyond what you can do from within the walls of your office. Like other social media platforms, LinkedIn is just a tool. Whether or not it’s beneficial depends on how you use it.

  2. Rebecca says:

    I think you make a good point about doctors not using Linked In and basically it is related to demographics and comfortability. However, it may become more meaningful to use social media such as Linked In, Twitter, Facebook, etc in the future to promote their services and stand apart from the many doctors who will be providing the same services in the same area to the same demographic.
    Good article! Something to ponder.

    Rebecca Morehead

  3. Andrea S. says:

    Great post, I thoroughly enjoyed it! Definitely explains why we don’t see more doctors on LinkedIn. I also want to add that I am connected with quite a few physicians on LinkedIn, while not a huge percentage of my connections. In my opinion, doctors are increasingly using LinkedIn, but the increase has been very gradual. As you mention, physicians often take a while to adopt new technology/trends, especially trends that don’t seem to have an immediate or urgent impact. Most of the physicians who use LinkedIn, I’ve found, are those who are newer/younger/coming out of training, or those who are actively seeking new opportunities, or doctors who have other non-clinical interests/professions such as executive/industry jobs or blogging/writing etc.

  4. Laura says:

    While I can understand why these factors have caused doctors to view LinkedIn as relatively unnecessary, I wonder how this might change in the near future. With healthcare reform underway, will word of mouth be enough to retain/attract patients? And all the research I’ve done says were becoming an increasingly mobile society, unlikely to place real deep roots too many places…I imagine that this will eventually affect doctors and their families or partners with their own careers. I think social media and LinkedIn may become more key to physicians in the future.

  5. Dr. Vartabedian – I disagree with the part on “Patients Don’t Care.” Where did you get this info from other than your own personal experience? A survey of some sort? If so, what was the date? I feel strongly that this section needs to be revisited based on patient healthcare wants, needs, and technology and communication tools that are available in today’s day and age.

    I am both a patient and a professional healthcare PR/social media communicator. And LinkedIn is an extremely powerful tool with dozens of uses for anyone who chooses to use it to its fullest power, regardless of the industry he/she is in. [The people who don’t understand this yet really need to pull their heads out from under the rocks and get with the times or get with a communications or marketing professional to show all the wonderful benefits and potential outcomes it can result in.]

    Having worked in the space that I do, having done patient and physician education communications for several years, and as a patient myself, I assure you that many people would love to see a physician’s full background, experience, achievements (put into laymen’s language) in a LinkedIn profile. It’s often really hard when searching for a new physician to find non-academic or non-clinical information about the physician on the web. Thus, decisions in selecting physicians can be hard to make. Further, it’s often difficult to find even an ounce of helpful information on the web about some physicians other than a directory/address listing for the practice.

    You say yourself that a patient’s decision to locate a provider is driven in part by the Web in some cases. And you are right! By having a robust LinkedIn profile (again in laymen’s terms please) the search engines will often push the profile to the top of a search (or close to the top). Thus, patients would see the profile when looking for a physician by name, or by a description.

    I agree that laypeople searching for a physician have 0 interest in seeing the physician’s individual resume/CV. Most would not be able to interpret a clinical resume/CV anyway. However seeing the physicians experience, achievements, last time she or he was board certified and what that means, along with areas of specialty, education received, job background, organizations he/she belongs to, awards/honors they received, and recommendations (by patients, staff or academic professors) would be extremely HELPFUL and POWERFUL on LinkedIn! Such information would also be especially helpful to the 90 million health illiterate patients we have in our country who have a hard time understanding and selecting the best healthcare provider for them.

    Remember, technology has changed so fast and continues to. Communications has changed so fast and continues to. We live in a very different communications environment than we did just 3 years ago. We are living in what is referred to as a “Communication Revolution.” The technology, web searching, social media communication channels, and general communications tools that are available to people today need to be considered, well understood and embraced fully for communication and education purposes (which often result in helping people make decisions). If one does not know how to properly use them, I suggest they locate an expert or a professional who can teach it.

    So with that, I think LinkedIn profiles for physicians are a
    no-brainer. And physicians who are no on LinkedIn can only benefit from being there. [You can think of LinkedIn as a free way to market ones self or practice if you really want to. And who wouldn’t want a fabulous free marketing and communications tool that has a lot of power?]

    Thx for letting me contribute!

  6. You are correct …

    … and I would also argue that your presence on LinkedIn is not just to woo prospective patients or referrers who might search LinkedIn for your services.

    Instead, the greatest value of a LinkedIn profile (or Facebook Page for that matter) might be to woo the search engines instead. With careful use of your hyperlocal geography (e.g. Santa Monica pediatrician, Kirkland neurologist etc.) as a part of your keyword phrasing, you are more likely to show up on page 1 of Google for that frantic prospective patient searching the Web in your neighborhood at 2 AM.

    Both LinkedIn and Facebook are so hugely popular and trafficked that the search engines place greater weight on their results than your own website. In turn, your LinkedIn profile or Facebook Page (NOT your Facebook Profile, by the way) can direct the searcher to your own website.

    For the small amount of effort it takes to create a readable, interesting online presence with high-traffic sites, in which you provide more detail about your current practice and its location, than your past jobs (along with your practice philosophy), these basically free marketing tools may yield some surprising results.

  7. DrV says:

    Philippa – Your point about search engines and their importance in the hyperlocal markets is perhaps the best point made yet. In fact, on my subsequent post on why doctors should use LinkedIn I might supplement the post with your point. And yes, the effort is small for a potentially large yield on many levels.

  8. Hans Unique Hoodia says:

    Words of mouth…can’t parent do their research? From cars to health insurance, people follow the mass way too much.

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