#AVA4H – Understanding physicians using social media

The Kaiser Permanente Center for Total Health (@kptotalhealth) hosted a wonderful conversation this week around a novel study of the use of social media to communicate health information, including an analysis of what physicians, media, and policy makers are talking about online.

Here are the fun shots from the event, which was broadcast live across the country, probably the most sophisticated setup I have seen yet in the facility (it only gets more exciting):

There’s a nice storify that covers the event, and the deck that Greg Matthews prepared is also available. I also like to see the data myself, so to that end, the data can be accessed as a summary, AND real time at MDigital Life:

MDigitalLife: Understanding Physicians Online from WCG

Here are some interesting things for me:

  • In the end, doctors are doctors – promoting health actions that are more likely to benefit our patients. Kind of what we would predict, and a relief.
  • The most common hashtag used by family medicine specialists (that’s us!) is #health.
  • I’m still ahead of my time – the only tweets in the database related to climate change, green health care, came from me. A few other docs posted about sustainability though. (Have I mentioned that Kaiser Permanente is now the first U.S. healthcare system to complete a fully verified GHG emissions inventory lately? Oops, I don’t think I have yet. Blog post coming up. Prevention is the new HIT).

And in general from the event itself, it is amazing to hear in 2013 that we’re talking about a non-trivial number of physicians learning about innovation in health care via Twitter. Think back to what you were doing with Twitter in 2006-7-8. I did, and I actually spoke about it with Regina Holliday (@ReginaHolliday) in our TEDx Talk together (see: “Embrace of Failure” – TEDx talk with Regina Holliday | Ted Eytan, MD). It was not done lightly. It was not done without a lot of trepidation. We were indirectly taught that what happens in health care stays in health care. For your boss to find out that you were on LinkedIn or tweeting about what you did to serve people was awkward at best. I actually started tweeting on a sabbatical if that says something (it doesn’t say that I was told not to, it says that the profession itself was not comfortable in this space). Now that’s more or less over, and doctors can be doctors who talk about their passion for health, prevention, diversity, equality, Washington, DC, and green health care. If I’m to use just one example :).

Thanks Greg Matthews (@chimoose) and the team at WCG, as well as my Kaiser Permanente colleagues for legitimizing and supporting the health professional voice online.


Ted Eytan, MD