Can We Believe the ZocDoc 2013 Digital Doctor Survey?

October 12, 2013

This week ZocDoc released results of a new survey of online physician activity.

It seems that among medical practices

  • One in every 3 have a Google+ account.
  • Half have a Facebook presence.
  • Nearly a quarter have a twitter presence.

A couple of thoughts:

Application to earthling physicians.  While there’s no information regarding the particular planet on which this survey was conducted, here on earth 1 in 3 physician practices are not present on Google+.

The chasm between ‘presence’ and meaningful engagement is huge.  Surveys such as this fail to address the vast range of platform use among physicians and practices.  Presence may mean nothing more than a practice has registered its name.  Alternatively, it could represent significant presence with audience, authority and meaningful engagement that changes minds and shapes behaviors.  With surveys such as these, the devil’s in the details when it comes to ‘social media use.’

We must not conflate physicians with physician practices.  They’re different creatures.

Opportunity lost.  ZocDoc is an amazing product with the resources and physician numbers to definitively characterize the habits and behaviors of doctors in the social wild.  They missed the opportunity to create a defining study consistent with their brand and potential.  Perhaps in 2014.

Irrespective of what any of this means, expect to see this infographic blindly plastered on every Power Point presentation delivered on physicians and public presence.



@briansmcgowan October 12, 2013 at 3:02 pm

Well said!

Robert S. Miller, MD October 12, 2013 at 3:29 pm

Color me skeptical. Would be nice the see the actual survey instrument and more information about demographics.

Alice Robertson October 13, 2013 at 12:21 pm

Skepticism in a doctor? Thank God!:) It’s what patients need…desperately…in the office, about your colleagues, clinical trials…because you always had it about your patients!:) The nature of beast is expanding and it’s a very good sign. Good on you!:)

Bryan Vartabedian October 14, 2013 at 8:23 am

I think it would be helpful to have the methods released. It might be interesting to see how the Google+ question was phrased/positioned. I strongly suspect that few of the subjects knew what Google+ is but confused it in some way with ‘being on Google’.

Greg Matthews October 13, 2013 at 8:47 am

I, for one, will not be using this slide in any upcoming presentations. I have better data. ;-) #MDigitalLife

Bryan Vartabedian October 14, 2013 at 8:24 am

ZocDoc needs to look you up, Greg….

Ed Bennett October 13, 2013 at 11:00 am

I share your skepticism about the Zocdoc data, and want to point out a big problem with Google+

Google is auto-generating G+ accounts from public lists and sources like HealthGrades. Almost every Doctor and every Physician Practice in the U.S. have a Google+ page, but most Docs don’t know it exists.

It’s a mess, and confusing for both patients and healthcare professionals.

Alice Robertson October 14, 2013 at 10:53 pm

Did you see that in anticipation of Google+ sharing our faces in ads people are changing their avatar picture to the CEO of Google’s picture? Amusing and witty!

Steve Levine October 13, 2013 at 11:31 am

Seems every year we get one of these well-publicized reports showing unimaginable physician usage of social media platforms. In 2012, the fanciful results of the “research” from QuantiaMD were reported throughout the echo chamber. Even the AMA’s American Medical News (whose reporters definitely should have known better) wrote a story quoting the Quantia data as accurate.

So … give ‘em hell.

Natasha Burgert, MD October 13, 2013 at 12:25 pm

I agree with your skepticism, Dr V. Although this data may be true for the very small number of physicians surveyed, as I would wager these are these docs are part of the ZocDoc network. Clearly this is an impressive group, but not representative of where we stand as a whole.

I worry when inflated statistics like these get shared. When that slide pops up in someone’s slide deck, it could discourage the doc-listener from starting to share in these important places — “Everyone else is doing it already, so I don’t need to.”

Alice Ackerman, MD October 13, 2013 at 6:52 pm

I wonder how many people will bother to look at the upper right hand corner of the infographic. It says “360 physicians responded.” I do not see how even the least sophisticated reader could possibly interpret this as representative of physicians as a whole. Well, I guess there are always some….

Reed Smith October 14, 2013 at 8:15 am

I think saying that 85% monitor online reviews is crazy… so 85% of 360 all of which are active in ZocDoc? I am sure that is true but makes the stat very skewed.

That is like asking how many people who own a boat like fishing. Then saying 85% of all american like fishing.

Bryan Vartabedian October 14, 2013 at 8:36 am

And in this parallel universe over half of physicians feel online reviews are fair.

And, uh, what have you got against fishing?

Jay October 14, 2013 at 8:47 am

Well said Reed. most of ZocDoc’s surverys are self serving, and always skewed based on the docs who already are using them. Complete BS!

Patricia October 15, 2013 at 11:38 pm

Wow I cannot believe they would publish this, maybe this is for their investors. I know my doctor would crack up at this.

John McCumber October 16, 2013 at 9:56 am

I consult with doctors and practices all day long about their online reputation and even though my experience is anecdotal at best I would have to say that Zoc Doc is smokin’ rope if they think that study in ballpark of accurate. Maybe one in 50 practitioners even realize they have a Google + page let alone the opportunity to create and combine it with a Google Business page. Maybe one in 1000 practitioners ask patients to submit reviews on their Google + and even then only a fraction of patients know how to do it. Oh well, helps me keep my job and business is good. :)

Christine Mitchell October 21, 2013 at 10:38 am

Can you tell me how many physicians were surveyed for the above results?

John McCumber October 24, 2013 at 3:21 pm

The infographic states 360 docs which if accurately matched back to % by speciality and demographics could be statistically significant but I presume they are asking only ZocDoc power users as their sample which skews things considerably.

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