Influencers and Dr. Google: A conversation about media usage in healthcare
By Emily Faubert

InCrowd surveyed attending physicians, nurses, medical residents and fellows in March 2022 on their media usage.

In a matter of seconds we can all follow an influencer or consult with “Dr. Google”. With so much information to overload us, we wanted to know what InCrowd members thought about media usage in the healthcare industry by both their peers and patients. 

When asked what their opinions were of healthcare professionals who have large followings and a widely known presence online and on television, responders reported to be mostly neutral. Overall, all groups surveyed overwhelmingly felt neutral about healthcare professionals with known presence online and on television with an average of 55%. Even with the majority reporting neutral feelings, more than a quarter felt more strongly towards this group of HCP “influencers” with  27% indicating they felt negatively and 14% felt positively. 

As a follow up we asked the responders about their opinions of their colleagues who use social media to dispense information to patients. The graph below as well as the following quote displays how respondents feel on the topic.  “If the healthcare professional influencer keeps the information they present factual, non-partisan, and respectful it can help combat misinformation. Social media does allow physicians to talk to one another/consult one another, which is very helpful to those who are more isolated in their practice setting…”

Finally, we inquired about the perception of patients using the internet to educate themselves or research into their acute or chronic illnesses? Overall 60% on average think it is a good idea, with Medical Residents and Fellows answering the highest in agreement that it is a good idea. The other 40% responded that they think it is a bad idea with the disagreement being even across all responding groups. See below for some further thoughts from respondents:

“It can really go either way. Internet research tends to deal with worst case scenario, so it unnecessarily frightens the patient. Doctor Google is really not your friend.”

“There is a lot of misinformation on the Internet that cause unnecessary anxiety to patient”

“I think it’s both good and bad. I always encourage patients to research further on their conditions; however, I urge them to utilize reputable resources and discuss their findings with their provider.”

The insights gained from this survey show that while there are varying opinions on influencers and Dr.Google, one key takeaway is how patients can decipher what is accurate and what is not. It is important to be able to combat misinformation and educate patients on reputable sites.

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