A Pocket Guide to Social Media for Physicians, Nurses and Other Smart Heroes

This is the super condensed Pocket Guide to Social Media for Physicians, Nurses and Other Smart Heroes.

  1. Figure out how social media platforms and tools work – you can do this on your own. To get started, Google keywords, like “social media”, “Twitter”, “Facebook”, “Blogging”, “Youtube”, “API”, “Hashtags”, “Google Places”.
  2. Use your imagination to figure out how these media can be re-purposed in Healthcare, networking, professional development or anything else that interests you.
  3. Reflect on topics such as: Ethics, bedside manner, HIPAA, patient dignity, professional development, peer networking, collaboration.
  4. Become a better professional: call a patient or colleague whom you haven’t seen in a while and ask “How are you?”

There it is: your Pocket Guide to Social Media for Physicians, Nurses and Other Smart Heroes.

Now this isn’t intended to be a sarcastic post: these tips are simply about the rudimentary elements of being literate in the 21st Century.

The truly difficult parts of doing social media in the long-term while achieving success – well that’s something that comes from experience, determination and surrounding yourself with other smart heros.

The guide is available for download here and here.


Caring Is King: Doctors, Nurses and Social Media

Imagine if every step in the care that you provided your patients were tweets or blog posts or anything else you post online. Would your care be retweeted, re-blogged, Liked?

If you run a practice and are seeking the Web to market your service, you may have heard the tired (and tiring) adage that Content Is King. It’s just a cliche. Is it true? Sort of, but it’s incomplete. A more complete understanding of media production would be:

Content is King. Context is Kingdom. Process is Power.

That’s certainly a rule you should remember when it comes to general online marketing (whether it’s for promoting your business or networking or just having your voice recognized).

But for physicians, nurses and other individual healthcare providers – including Healthcare and Life Sciences enterprises – Caring trumps Content.

In fact: Caring is the content.

The caring is the message.

Care is the medium which propagates the profession.

More and more doctors and nurses are using social media. This is a welcome evolution: we need their voices.

It’s in their interest – and ours – to be sufficiently media-savvy.

Using the tools aren’t hard. It’s the discipline, diligence and integrity to produce quality content, appropriately market their messages, interact with their core audience and to help extend the art and science of caring from the bedside to the byte.

If you don’t care for others, they won’t care for you.

That’s as true for healthcare as it is for blogging.

Caring is King.

Caring is Kingdom.

Caring is Power.


(Apologies for the paternal-dominated language – I had to work with a paternal-dominated cliche.) 🙂

Number of Doctors and Nurses on Twitter

How many doctors and nurses are on Twitter? That was a question which Howard Luks (@hjluks) asked me today. I replied that it’s a hard number to arrive at, but I went ahead an crunched up some numbers using one of the applications build on top of Twitter’s API.

Here are the rounded numbers that I calculated as of August 18, 2010:

  • Nurses – 19,100
  • Doctors – 9.600

Now these are very rough numbers, using a pretty crude method. I used TweepSearch which is a Twitter profile search tool. I simply searched for certain keywords like ‘doctor’, ‘physician’, ‘nurse’, ‘RN’, ‘LPN’, etc. I couldn’t use ‘MD’ or ‘DO’ – results for the abbreviation for Maryland showed up too frequently, while ‘DO’ is just an all-too-common occurrence in words. Also, ‘nursing’ appeared to return a lot of the same results as ‘nurse’, so I excluded that term for conservatism. [Update: Just to emphasize – this is a crude approach, and the results may include other kinds of doctors that are not medical at all (doctorates of Philosophy etc.).]

I’m sure there are other methods and other tools build on the API, but it’s a stab. These numbers don’t include data about how active these accounts are (and I’m sure there are profiles that use the words doctor or nurse in totally goofy ways).

It’s interesting that there are twice as many nurses than doctors on Twitter according to these calculations.

It still seems like a very small number to me  – at least for 2010.

I can tell you, though, that back in 2007-2008, my best guess then was that probably only a few hundred doctors and nurses were on Twitter (and that was very liberal guess based on the searches using Track and Yahoo Pipes I built). So that the numbers are now in the 5 digits tells me that we’re definitely seeing an uptick in adoption.

There is a service called Twitter Doctors which states that it is a directory of the most influential doctors on Twitter. As of today, there were almost 1,290 doctors listed (86 pages x 15 results per page). If you’re a doctor and want to be listed, follow @Dawson. .

Given that Twitter is much simpler than Facebook, I wonder what trend we’ll see in terms of use by healthcare professionals. Mark Ryan (@RichmondDoc) raises some good questions about Twitter versus Facebook which you can read here.

I’ll continue to track. If you know of better methods and resources, let me know in the comments. You can follow our list of tweeting doctors and nurses.

So what’s your guess as to the number of doctors, nurses and other healthcare professionals on Twitter?


Recent post – The Patient Audience

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