I suspect that in the next couple of years we’ll see the emergence of a viable social network for physicians. It hasn’t happened yet but I suspect that we’re getting close. Physicians are increasingly dabbling in mainstream social sites.
But maybe that’s a problem. After all, a doctor can only hang in so many places. If you have “The Facebook for Doctors” do you expect us to spend our time there instead of on Facebook itself? Maybe we will, and maybe we won’t.
Beyond the obvious requirement of a network to deliver value, I think the rate-limiting factor is old-fashioned bandwidth. You can only be one place at a time. If I spend my days on Twitter I’m not likely to spend my days on said doctor’s network.
I will go there for particular things and to talk to certain people about specific issues. But like most doctors I’m not sure I can tell you exactly what I want. I’ll know it when I see it. (Actually I do, but I’m keeping it tip-top secret)
When I speak to doctors about social media I discuss the importance of choosing properties. Where are you going to live or where are you going to have that dialog between your practice and your patients or you and your colleagues. I spend most of my time here on this blog as well as on Twitter. I just don’t have the time for video, podcasting or even a big presence on Facebook. I do what my budget allows.
And if you think with your new network you’re going to convert high profile docs like Kevin Pho, Wes Fisher, Rob Lamberts, Berci or Wendy Swanson off of Twitter onto “The Facebook for Doctors,” think again. This is where these guys live in the very limited amount of non-clinical time that they have. These public networks are critical pipelines for their readers. These early adopters are likely to see LinkedIn as their home profile rather than whatever the next network creates.
Of course the motivation of the social physician intelligentsia is quite different from the demographic that network builders seek. The money’s with that curious but socially naive internist in Grand Rapids who hasn’t put down roots. This is Joe MD. And he’s got friends.
Ultimately I think all of this social expansion will amount to something of a land grab for physician attention. While there will be competition from the public applications, there’s incredible opportunity for whoever builds the thing compelling enough to bring us over.
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