Thursday, May 24, 2012
Bucking the Social Network Trend
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Two of us here at Manhattan Research have been at odds over how physician adoption of social networks will evolve. The other analyst believed strongly that growth in physician-only social networks was inevitable because, among many reasons, using social networking platforms is becoming a core part of millions of people’s civilian and professional lives. Facebook’s user base is at 900 million, climbing rapidly, and LinkedIn reported theirs at 161 million in March 2012. Indeed, adoption of physician-only social networks grew 50% from 2010 to 2011, reaching about one-quarter of U.S. practicing physicians.
The results of our annual physician study settled this part of our dispute: According to our new Taking the Pulse® U.S. 2012 study, adoption of physician-online networks is flat. This year we probed more deeply into this topic so have a clearer understanding why. In addition to saying they don’t have time to using these services (read: no value to changing my workflow), physicians told us they prefer to get information elsewhere online and communicate with peers by one-to-one not one-to-many media. We also discovered that when it comes to discussing clinical matters, physicians still hold the relationships they established in medical school or during training in high regard, significantly more so than those that they formed online.
The other analyst did have greater vision when it came to physician adoption of LinkedIn. I expected very slow growth for physicians, not clearly seeing the utility for physicians of this platform. In fact, adoption of LinkedIn for professional reasons grew 64% between 2011 and 2012, reaching about one quarter of physicians. We thankfully agreed on professional use of Facebook – that declined significantly to 11%, and we continue to agree that this will crash to single digits in 2013.
In this year’s study, we also carried out extensive research on how physicians communicate with one another, which kinds of relationships they leverage for clinical matters, in addition to many other topics. We’d love to hear your reaction to these new findings - please email email@example.com with your thoughts.