The value of social media engagement for physicians

The trend of peer-to-peer digital engagement started in 2005 with the launch of Sermo, the first social network exclusively for doctors, and has expanded with other physician-focused platforms and even physicians engaging over consumer social networks. It is no surprise that the importance of these social networks has increased exponentially over the last year due to the changes in the healthcare landscape. 

In April 2020—one month after the US went into lockdown—a physician survey found that the top trusted health sources included peer-reviewed journals, medical association and general health websites, and professional networking sites. The latter has played an even bigger role with canceled in-person medical congresses and a decline in face-to-face meetings with industry representatives. In fact, a Sermo survey of physicians conducted in late March 2020 found 69% of US physicians seeing a decline in sales meetings—a number that surely remained low over the past year.

In the absence of in-person meetings, professional networking sites provide numerous advantages for physicians, including access to:

  • Peers outside their normal professional circle, including in different geographic areas and different specialties—the Sermo platform has more than 1.3 million HCPs from 150 countries and averages 613 daily comments
  • New research beyond what is available in peer-reviewed publications or presented during virtual medical conferences
  • Insights into treatment options for a variety of health conditions based on professional experience—Sermo has more than 1 million drug ratings available for physician reference
  • Support for difficult patient cases—an average of 29 patient cases are posted on Sermo daily

While the increasing availability of COVID vaccines will hopefully return life to some semblance of normalcy, digital engagement likely will continue as a valuable resource for physicians to engage with and learn from their peers.