Leave Gray’s Anatomy on the Bookshelf: How Modern Healthcare Professionals Engage with Social Media

April 28, 2014

72% of U.S. Internet users searched online for health information in the past year.1 Whether you are looking up health insurance options, trying to find the best hospital in your area, or researching side effects of medication, the internet can be a great place to start but can often lead to information overload.

Employees in the healthcare industry are in the same situation, inundated with a tremendous amount of information they need to consume to stay educated on evolving regulations, technologies, and treatments. Hardcopy journals or physician-focused websites used to be the go-to resource, but today more and more healthcare professionals are turning to social media sites like LinkedIn for collaborating with peers, ongoing education, coordinating conferences, and to hear from Healthcare Companies directly.

How can companies in the healthcare sector embrace this growing shift towards social media to engage this information-hungry audience? Our latest LinkedIn research provides deeper insights into who these healthcare professionals are and how to reach them.

HEALTHCARE PROFESSIONALS: ON LINKEDIN AND GROWING

Over the past several years, the number of healthcare professionals on LinkedIn and their use of the platform grew at an increasing rate. At the end of 2013, there were over 4.4 million healthcare practitioners, executives, channel followers, and opinion leaders on LinkedIn, a 30% increase in the last year alone.

Healthcare Blog - Growth - 03252014Healthcare practitioners (HCP) – physicians, medical techs, surgeons, nurses, etc. – make up over half this audience on LinkedIn.

In the US alone, LinkedIn reaches over 40%2 of Physicians and Surgeons with over 360,000 members who specialize in everything from Pediatrics and Cardiology to Radiology and Anesthesiology. Looking at the larger group of HCP:

Healthcare Blog - Use of LinkedIn - 03252014According to a recent survey by AMN Healthcare, usage of LinkedIn by HCP for networking / peer recommendations is also on the rise.5 As of 2013 over 1 in 4 HCP made use of LinkedIn, significantly increasing their usage compared to previous years.

This growing use of LinkedIn by healthcare practitioners may be driven by the need for a single location to coordinate networking and education activities that occur in a closed environment, such as LinkedIn private groups. Companies with highly specialized audiences (i.e. Healthcare IT companies, Pharmaceuticals, etc.) can use private groups to effectively communicate with these usually hard to reach professionals where attentive moderators conduct profile reviews of applicants prior to granting membership.

TIPS ON USING LINKEDIN TO ENGAGE HEALTHCARE PROFESSIONALS

Below are a few examples of how specific healthcare industries can use LinkedIn groups to interact with healthcare professionals in a credible place where they are seeking out information to increase their understanding of the medical field:

1. Healthcare IT companies can use groups to start conversations around pain points in the industry, such as Electronic Health Records and Management, and increase awareness around products and information that offer solutions.

2. Pharmaceutical companies have a similar opportunity within groups to engage with healthcare professionals around upcoming events and launches.

3. Authentically responding to discussions or starting conversations with group members about what a company is offering and the impact on patients can elevate your image with healthcare professionals more than direct marketing alone.

With over 50% of healthcare practitioners likely to join a Group created by a health-related brand, the opportunity is ripe for healthcare companies.

Learn more about what these professionals are doing on the LinkedIn platform and how you can engage with them in our full SlideShare presentation:

Looking ahead, the adoption and usage of social media and LinkedIn -- specifically by the next generation of connected doctors -- are expected to grow. This trend is not unique to healthcare professionals, but is felt by many people in highly specialized, time starved, information hungry industries. Understanding tactics to reach and interact with these individuals in authentic, meaningful ways will be vital to staying competitive and relevant to such rapidly evolving industries.

Sources:

  1. Source: Based on research conducted by the Pew Internet Project
  2. Source: Total Physicians/Surgeons on the platform, identified via occupational targeting http://www.nationalahec.org/pdfs/FSMBPhysicianCensus.pdf
  3. Source: LinkedIn Internal Data, March 2014
  4. Source: LinkedIn Member Survey Research, November 2013
  5. Source: AMN Healthcare “Use of Social Media and Mobile by Healthcare Professionals: 2013 Survey Results”

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