Why Physicians and Nurse Practitioners Should Consider Quora

What assets do physicians nurse practitioners have which they can share online? It’s knowledge.

With today’s technologies, medicine and nursing care online are obviously limited – perhaps in the future we’ll have technologies which more robustly extend traditional care.

When patients seek information online, they’re usually looking for answers to questions. Now they may be seeking answers from different sources, but if they could find a spot on the web  that dynamically houses the expertise they’re seeking, that’s where providers aught to consider having a pressence.

Yes, providers can blog and tweet and update Facebook. But some don’t have much time for that. And none of those services – as of now – has any way to organize questions and answers in a meaningful way.


Enter: Quora.

This post won’t go into the details of how to use Quora. Before you just pick up a tool, it’s often wise to know why to use it – to have a framework and orientation. If you want a good general read on why Quora may be bigger than its current hype, check out Mark Suster’s post.

The mechanics and tips are things you can learn later if you haven’t already. I’ll write more here.

This purpose of this post is to call attention to something the Web has promised for a long time but hasn’t quite delivered: a place where information and people intersect.

Physicians are already using Quora to ask and answer questions. Here’s a list. Nurse practitioners are few and far between but nurses are slowly getting there too.

So what’s so unique about the idea of another Q&A site?

  • Quora organizes questions better than any other service thus far
  • Quora has a more focused purpose than Twitter or Facebook – Asking and answering questions
  • Quora exploits the key features of today’s social media – real-time, follow relationships, voting
  • Quora has human moderation and a built-in interest in combatting unprofessionalism
  • Quora gives users choices in what to follow: people or questions or topics (or all three)
  • Quora’s questions pour through today’s Web ecosystem via Twitter and Facebook
  • Quora’s questions have “memory” – it aims to avoid duplication and fosters findability
  • Quora’s SEO is remarkable – a big plus for higher quality healthcare content in Google

No other Web site houses all of these feature – and more – under one roof. Quora has raised the bar – and now competing services have something to match. But Quora’s already got the brand and the momentum.

Is Quora a place to provide care? No. But…


So why would a physician or nurse practitioner or other non-physician provider use Quora?

  • Quora gives Healthcare professionals a place to help create higher quality content online
  • Quora is a great place to easily find and network with others in an important way – not through traditional “people searches”, but simply by asking and answering questions related to their interests
  • Quora provides an opportunity to see what patients are asking and what they’re saying about diseases and treatments – and may offer better insight than traditional research
  • Quora enables the public to see the thinking of providers on difficult issues – here’s an example
  • Quora, if it scales and continues to rank high in Google, can provide a visibility to the right prospects
  • Quora may not be huge like Facebook – but it may not need to be, especially if it meets the needs of providers and ranks in social and traditional search

It’s this last part – the ability to “show your stuff” – which can be very attractive to practices.

Now – Quora is not the place to pimp your wares. You can get kicked off the service pretty quickly for that behavior.

But, posing elegant questions and answering them eloquently can help physicians and nurse practitioners develop a Web presence that more readily displays what they know – and how helpful they are to others.

In other words: Quora allows you to show both your professionalism and likability.

Everyday, more and more people expect their care providers to be online – prospects need to know who is helpful and useful.


Your Quora Answers, over time, become a new kind of landing page for you or your business. You may have blog, you may be on Facebook, you may tweet. But the more questions you ask and the more you answer, you’re building a view of yourself which is harder to glean from other media. Your answers become a new kind of “About Me” or CV – one that’s dynamic, interactive and real-time.

Of course, all providers must be mindful of HIPAA, patient dignity, boundaries and litigation – providers should consider a boiler plate disclaimer written by a lawyer. Here’s a pertinent Question on the matter.

Quora definitely is in the early stage of Gartner’s Hype Cycle – the hype is outrageous.

Having said that, though, my intuition for technology isn’t all bad. And my intuition says that Quora is on to something that shouldn’t be ignored.

But don’t take my word for it.

Think about the premise of this new kind of service. Might such a premise be useful to you in your practice?

If it is, consider Quora. Not so much because Quora is the “next biggest thing”. It probably won’t be. But because Quora represents where today’s media are headed.

You don’t have to be a neurosurgeon to figure out Quora…but speaking of which, check out Laszlo B. Tamas.

Just don’t jump into it. Go slow or you’ll trip. Trust me, Quora can be confusing at first. So is tying shoelaces.

Unlike Twitter and Facebook, Quora offers a more purposeful ambience – that’s important in a time when patients and providers both need better connection to quality content – and, ultimately, to each other.

@PhilBaumann –  @HealthIsSocial – Questions or Answers


Quora Concerning Cancer

I love finding and making connections where we make disconnections.

You love making them too.

It’s what science is about.

It’s what art is about.

It’s what love is about.

And thus it is that we must question concerning cancer.

For our knowledge of cancer – of how cells disconnect from their natural connection to mortality and transmogrify into immortality – is far from complete.

Perhaps it’s time we open up all those tiny assumptions and lemmas and questions about Cancering which traditional researchers have labored to tackle.

Perhaps we need the mathematician with no background in biology: to look at the problem of remmission.

Perhaps we need the musician who has no idea what “neoplasm” means: to ask the molecular geneticist for help in a composition, all the while asking questions about telomeres like a five-year old.

Perhaps we need the venture capitalist who never went to college: to cull her network of programmers and business analysts to lend forth their knowledge about where things fail.

Perhaps we need the parents who went through hell: to tell us how the Web could better connect, educate and support the newly diagnosed with all available resources.

Perhaps we need that kid who endured chemotherapy: to tell us what the doctors and nurses – her parents – missed in the course of her care.

The brightest discoveries aren’t always made where the light shines.

Martin Heidegger, in his essay The Question Concerning Technology, proclaimed: “Questioning is the piety of thought”.

I agree, and so I have usurped his “Question concerning…” theme and adapted it to Quora.

For regardless of where these crazy little toys from Silicone Valley go, we can Quora concerning cancer. Right now, this moment.

For once, we have a technology which lets us do just that with the potential for global reach.

The question mark is the only technology we have to save us from technology’s cancering.



Quora Concerning Suicide

“If I’m not happy with life, should I commit suicide?”

That simple question was raised on the question and answer service Quora.

I’ve been working on a post on this latest shiny new object, Quora – specifically how it might be a promising way to improve the quality of online healthcare content.

But when I saw this question pop into my Quora stream, I did a double-take.

Here’s a screenshot (click image to save your eyes):

(Note: Garry Stein isn’t asking the question – he’s answering it.)

I won’t comment too much because I want to explore Quora in more detail in another post.

Suffice to say: I think Quora may be more than just another shiny new object.

So here are a few thoughts about Quora’s potential in Healthcare:

Quora – or the premise of Quora –may just turn out to fill an important void: namely, the need for merging the streaming benefits of Twitteresque chatter with deeper vetted knowledge and organization – among many other things.

I don’t know how Quora does it, but the questions there often get ranked in Google insanely well (based on a small sample size). That could be a big deal for Healthcare.

Also: Quora could make it easier for physicians and nurses and other healthcare scientists to become content-producers.

Quora is easier than full-blown blogging – and it’s quite engaging. I’m seeing some doctors already asking and answering questions there (Laszlo Tamas, MD & Marc Pimentel, to name a couple).  For physicians and nurses who can’t squeeze much social media into their lives, Quora may be a worthy option.

Furthermore, I can see Quora’s potential for a kind of more lively networking which LinkedIn doesn’t provide. Facebook Answers may turn out to be the Q&A place in a few years, but who knows. (You can see Mark Zuckerberg’s questions here – they’re not dumb questions either given his business.)

Quora is definitely not Yahoo! Answers.

Anyhoo – I’ll ship a post on Quora soon. (Click the Rengade’s Club link below and I’ll dart it over to you.)

Meanwhile, I encourage you to click over to the question and read through the answers, even if you have no interest in Quora.

My Quora is over here. Leave yours in the comments.

How would you answer that quora concerning suicide?

@PhilBaumann@HealthIsSoccialThe Renegade’s Club