Our Take

Online clinician communities

    Online clinician communities for medical information sharing – both open social media channels (e.g. Twitter, LinkedIn) and physician-only digital platforms (e.g. Doximity, Sermo, epocrates, Figure 1) – have evolved to become top destinations for clinicians to discuss clinical evidence, network with their peers, and extend their own “influence” within the health care community.

    However, the growth in these communities represents more than just rising interest in “Facebook for doctors.” It is contributing to fundamental shifts in how clinicians practice medicine, who they trust, and how they engage with the rest of the health care ecosystem.

    There are four things that the health care ecosystem needs to know about online clinician communities:

    1. Online clinician communities have evolved from an emerging tool to a trusted source of insight hardwired into clinicians’ day-to-day routine, and many existing forces in the health care landscape will accelerate their growth in the future.
    2. Online clinician communities allow clinicians to contribute to and benefit from emerging medical consensus and deliver more tailored care, creating a tension with broader industry pushes towards care standardization.
    3. As a result of online clinician communities, more (and different-in-kind) clinicians can have “influence” in medicine. This challenges institutional stakeholders, decentralizes traditional power structures, and makes it harder for anyone to control a more dispersed network of voices in medicine and the messages those voices are carrying.
    4. The wealth of data from online clinician communities can provide new types of market and product insight. However, stakeholders have yet to determine how, when, and why to use this data.

    Read on to learn more.

    • Takeaways

      Online clinician communities have evolved from an emerging tool to a trusted source of insight hardwired into clinicians’ day-to-day routine, and many existing forces in the health care landscape will accelerate their growth in the future.

      Read More Collapse
    • Takeaways

      Online clinician communities allow clinicians to contribute to and benefit from emerging medical consensus and deliver more tailored care, creating a tension with broader industry pushes towards care standardization.

      Read More Collapse
    • Takeaways

      As a result of online clinician communities, more (and different-in-kind) clinicians can have “influence” in medicine. This challenges institutional stakeholders, decentralizes traditional power structures, and makes it harder for anyone to control a more dispersed network of voices in medicine.

      Read More Collapse
    • Takeaways

      The wealth of data from online clinician communities can provide new types of market and product insight. However, stakeholders have yet to determine how, when, and why to use this data.

      Read More Collapse

    What this means for each industry sector

    There are countless opportunities for all parts of the health care industry to use online clinician communities to improve care delivery and patient outcomes, but there are unique opportunities and open questions for each sector.

    How health care industry sectors can leverage online clinician communities, and open questions to consider.

    Sector Current opportunities Open questions
    Provider organizations
    • Encourage clinicians to use online communities to stay current on the latest clinical evidence, grow their network, and connect with peers
    • Use online clinician communities to improve clinical practice and upskill staff
    • Leverage networks to expand your presence, influence, and national or local reputation
    • Do we need to standardize platform use to improve our organization’s culture and connectivity?
    • To what extent will the reliability of platforms change and evolve over time, and how will we monitor changes?
    • How can we leverage platforms to assess care variation and treatment patterns at the organization level?
    Individual clinicians
    • Use platforms like Doximity and Sermo to stay up-to-date on the latest clinical evidence, connect with clinicians and build your network
    • Consider using platforms like Medscape Consult or Figure 1 to crowdsource answers to difficult cases
    • Evaluate when it is appropriate to share insight in open channels (e.g. Twitter) versus closed, secure platforms
    • Which online clinician communities are best suited to meet my specific clinical needs?
    • How can and should these communities fit into daily workflow and clinical decision-making?
    Payers
    • Understand how your medical and pharmacy staff can leverage these resources to inform formulary and utilization decisions
    • Use online clinician communities to understand how providers want data or information presented to them, what information they feel like they’re missing, and how practical/logistical hurdles impede approaches to care
    • How might clinicians use these platforms to collectively advocate for formulary inclusion/coverage changes?
    Life sciences organizations
    • Identify opportunities to partner with online clinician communities for insight and evidence generation
    • Engage your customers in discussions about when and how they use online clinician communities
    • Use conversations on online clinician communities understand customer perceptions of your products and company
    • What legal and compliance regulations regarding unsolicited HCP communications and outreach may prevent us from acting on customer data?
    • How should we approach data mining and social listening? What are our goals?
    Technology vendors
    • Consider how to leverage different online clinician communities and digital platforms for RWE generation
    • Assess opportunities to integrate online clinician communities into your existing offerings (e.g. HTAs, clinical decision-support tools, EHRs)
    • What data mining and AI capabilities will we need to maximize the validity of insight generated from these channels?
    Patient advocacy organizations
    • Encourage clinicians to use online communities to advocate for treatments and better care
    • How can we work with industry stakeholders to make our voice heard in these communities?

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