The Most Important Trend in Physician Communications

Posted by: in Communication, Communication Strategy, Digital Health, Global Healthcare, Healthcare Insights, Healthcare Technology, Marketing Insights, MDigitalLife, Social Media Insights & Trends on September 22, 2014

DownloadMTFFTTThis is the first in a series of posts announcing the latest MDigitalLife report: Missing the forest for the trees: The change in physician roles that the healthcare industry missed. You can download the full report here.

The evolving nature of the physician’s role has been well documented by leading thinkers such as Jordan Grumet, Eric Topol and Bryan Vartabedian. Some of the most obvious changes include:

Acute vs. chronic – Our healthcare and medical education systems were designed over 100 years ago to treat acute health issues, which today have been completely swamped by lifestyle-based chronic conditions.

Health insurance vs. health maintenance – Health insurance was originally created to be much more like life insurance; a protection from catastrophe. Yet in fits and starts over the last 50 years, we’ve increasingly insulated the patient from the cost of care.

Litigation free-for-all – In retrospect, an ironic choice of words – because it certainly isn’t “free” for the health system! Our increasingly litigious society has led to spiraling malpractice insurance costs for physicians which in turn causes a rise in rates AND an increase in the practice of defensive medicine. The lawyers are laughing all the way to the bank, aided by their brethren in national and state government.

Data proliferation – We have more individual health data than we’ve ever had – but nobody’s figured out how to help the doctor use it properly.

But another trend has arisen quietly over the last 10 years, coming into fruition under the noses of the healthcare industry.

Doctors are doin’ it for themselves: Physicians use of social media has exploded over the last 5 years in particular for all kinds of reasons. The result is that the most trusted people in the healthcare system are now communicating broadly and openly with each other and with patients. Reporters spotted the trend early-on and started actively following the blogs and twitter accounts of online physicians, frequently sourcing stories from them and in some cases, actually inviting those docs to start communicating in more mainstream channels (witness Wendy Sue Swanson of Seattle KING5 TV and Claire McCarthy of and the Huffington Post).

But as far as healthcare companies are concerned, doctors are still those folks who prescribe and recommend their products, conduct their clinical trials and lead their medical education efforts. It’s time for all of us to wake up and smell the coffee – and recognize that we need to think about doctors in a whole new way.

Stay tuned for more – and be sure to download the report!


By: Greg Matthews

Greg Matthews is the the creator and Managing Director of the W2O Group's MDigitalLife - Understanding, Engaging and Activating Physicians in the Digital Age

Find me on: Twitter
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