Two studies conducted by QuantiaMD and Core Continuum Alliance in September 2011 involving 4033 physicians showed that 65% of them are using at least one social media site in their private practice (Merrill, 2011). The first study done by a panel discussion at Stanford Summit and Medicine 2.0 Congress polled 186 US oncologists and 299 US primary care physicians. The second study was done by Brian McGowan, senior director, oncology, Medical Education Group, Pfizer Inc. and it revealed how doctors used IT to share information with colleagues and patients. The study showed that one third of physicians has not used LinkedIn, which is used more to build resumes than in confidential doctor-patient communication. Physicians are unfamiliar with digital media. Also, the larger a practice is, the more likely information is shared digitally, but it is not known why. Specialty use of social media varies as oncologists are more skeptical of using social media. However, social media use was not proven to depend on age. 40% of resident physicians share information by text messaging, especially among their colleagues. Also, studies revealed that Facebook and Twitter were used less often than email (Merrill, 2011).
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The economic impact of physicians using social media to communicate with patients has a positive effect on patients, and ensures a greater job satisfaction by physicians. Patients and physicians have more interest in supporting each other in treating chronic disease. The use of social media is helpful in remote rural areas where it could take hours for a physician to consult with another physician in another city using the usual communication methods. If patients can obtain healthcare more quickly through online social media, they can be restored to health faster and have a more productive work life with higher incomes.