The Connected Physician

There is so much going on in the world of physician communication via digital, mobile, social. It is amazing how much some doctors are sharing online. When I first started out in the healthcare biz, physicians would never open up like this. I have observed this trend on blogs and Twitter. So I was not surprised to learn from a recent Manhattan Research study that physicians are (finally) more apt to connect with patients online. According to their Physicians in 2012: The Outlook on Health Information Technology study, 39% of physicians currently email, secure message, or instant message their patients, which represents a 14% increase since 2006. Within that group, dermatologists, medical oncologists, neurologists, endocrinologists, and infectious disease specialists are the most active. The top activities include:

  • Answering clinical questions
  • Discussing symptoms and/or treatment options
  • Determining whether an office visit is necessary

Physician acceptance is a big part of moving physician-patient online communication forward. The statistic above means that over 60% of physicians are not partaking of the Internet to talk to patients. Liability issues, privacy and doubts about benefits to practice efficiency are among the reasons cited.