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Healthcare Social Media is a Waste of Time for Most Doctors


healthcare social media waste of time for doctors 150x150Healthcare Social Media is a Waste of Time (or worse) for Most Physicians

Healthcare Social Media is all the rage these days. You can’t visit even one physician-oriented website without someone breathlessly advising you to be on Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, YouTube … and now Pinterest. Yet the only reason these talking heads can give you is, “because they are really popular and everyone is doing it.”

Healthcare Social Media Consulting is a bubble economy at the moment. I suspect there are far more healthcare social media consultants in the marketplace than doctors who can point to ANY Healthcare Social Media activity that has shown a measurable positive effect on
- their Bottom Line
- Or their Enjoyment of Medicine.

Don’t listen to the healthcare social media flavor of the month … because here are …

3 Reasons Healthcare Social Media is a Bad Idea for the Average Practicing Doctor

1) There is NO Return On Investment (ROI)

If you are a clinician who is paid by your patient’s insurance company for the services you provide … I challenge any healthcare social media consultant to show you how a Facebook post or Twitter Tweet produces any additional income for you.

Remember, no one pays you to login and post on Facebook. You would have to be posting something that actually causes more patients to come into the office where you can see them and charge for your services.

Here is a link to a healthcare social media article on where a doctor is singing the praises of his online presence with no clue whether he is making a single additional dollar from all the blogging, tweeting and updating.

Here are some important questions:
How much do you bill in an average hour? If you spend two hours a week on your healthcare social media maintenance (a minimal amount) you have cost your practice as much as several thousand dollars in gross billings. Did your tweets drive that much business through the door?

Before you do anything on Healthcare Social Media … I encourage you to understand exactly how you generate a return on that investment of time and energy. If no one can show you an ROI … don’t do it because …

2) Healthcare Social Media is DANGEROUS IF …  it’s just one more “SHOULD” to Burn You Out

With studies consistently showing 1 in 3 doctors burned out on any given office day, adding the learning curve of just one of these healthcare social media sites could be the last straw in your workload. And the social media consultants never recommend you do just one … nope. They always recommend a “strategy” and list the sites in groups of three and four as I have above. These are all the places you “SHOULD” have in your healthcare social media strategy.

I can tell you from direct experience that each site has its own learning curve, technology and culture. It is a piece of cake to waste dozens of hours just getting up to speed on just one site.

Facebook is VERY different from Twitter or Pinterest … and any one of them can be overwhelming to an already busy physician.

If you are bordering on overworked … like most docs I know … and you get a spare hour in your schedule … my suggestion is you go have a nice lunch with your significant other (or your kids) and leave Twitter to Ashton Kutcher.

3) Healthcare Social Media is a Fad, it’s a Bubble … it’s not worth it … Unless one of these apply

a) One situation where Healthcare Social Media outreach might be worthwhile is if your practice (or a significant portion of it) consists of products or services the client pays cash for.

In this instance, your Facebook post of a special offer might just drive more clients and dollars in the door. This is exactly how a restaurant uses Twitter and why social media makes a LOT more sense for a restaurateur than an MD.

The more entrepreneurial and cash-based your practice is … the more likely you can come up with a healthcare social media tactic or two that makes business sense. AND watch the time you or your staff spend on the computer hoping to “Go Viral”. Do your very best to measure the ROI of any investment in Healthcare Social Media.

b) Another situation where Healthcare Social Media can be OK is if you have a lot of spare time and don’t care about money. In other words, it is a Hobby. If you are using your social media avatar (who you pretend to be online) for kicks in your spare time … go for it.


If you are the typical doctor in the typical medical practice … there is no business case for Healthcare Social Media, there is no ROI … and the additional workload and expectations could worsen the amount of stress you are under.

That’s three strikes by my reckoning.

So the next time a “guru” of Healthcare Social Media tells you the five sites you should be on (and there will be two more in the next 18 months … I guarantee it) … you can say, “Thanks, but no thanks” and get back to taking good care of your patients and spending time with your family instead.

PLEASE LEAVE A COMMENT BELOW on your experience with Healthcare Social Media.
I would especially love to hear if you have made measurable cash off healthcare social media and your practice is 100% insurance based.


I think Dr. Drummond's argument is logical and well-stated. For the established physician, with a busy clinical practice, there is no need for additional unpaid engagement through social media.  
With the amount of public information about each physician continually increasing on the internet, a social media presence can establish a positive projection to refute negative comments. 
It may simply be ego at the end of the day, but there are good reasons that many physicians will not be liked by a few of there patients, and it is possible, potentially even likely, that negative information regarding each physician will amass online. With a planned, online social media presence, the physician can balance the negative PR.  
As a young physician, I can say, I don't watch TV, I don't watch the news on TV. Twitter, youtube are my sources of news information.
Posted @ Wednesday, September 25, 2013 12:10 PM by Doctor Goodman
With all due respect Dr. Drummond, as a patient who has had to visit many Dr's in my lifetime, I have to disagree with just about everything! 
The thought that medical social media being a passing fad is misguided at best. This is the wave of the not-so-distant future and practitioners not willing or able to adapt, are in for a bumpy ride.  
Now, I'm not saying every Dr needs to be on Facebook, counseling pt's in between posts to their friends & family about holiday plans. However, being more accessible via medical platforms (such as start will become the expected norm.  
Once patients get a whiff of things like that, how they can connect/collaborate with all their Dr's at once, with such ease...the days of tolerating waiting days for a resp
Posted @ Monday, November 25, 2013 2:13 PM by Cindy
Hey Cindy ... thanks for the comment.  
Doctors cannot counsel patients on social media. It would be a punishable HIPAA Violation. To do that they would need what is called a secure patient portal ... which is NOT social media.  
And sooner or later you have to let your doctor NOT be a doctor. If they are choosing to tweet instead of spend time with their children and spouse ... everyone loses. Doctors are human too. Too many of them are overloaded already with work responsibilities and have no time or energy for social media. That was the message of my post.  
This is not about patient convenience it is about preservation of your doctor's sanity and humanity.  
Make sense? 
~ Dike
Posted @ Monday, November 25, 2013 2:22 PM by Dike Drummond MD
Dr. Drummond, 
Yes, I understand the whole FB and twitter thing. 
I do believe, however, that the more Dr's are accessible and collaborate with not only the patient, but their various specialists, the better off for ALL...patient AND provider.  
Again, I do not expect my Dr to be liking my numerous cat photos on my FB wall, not what I am saying at all. 
However, being accessible via an online, medical platform designed to promote this type of collaboration, is not only desirable to us patients, but as I believe, will be expected. Times, they are a-changing.  
Instead of endless hours playing phone tag with patients or even other Dr's, everything is right there in a secure platform. Talking about ROI? Without the office phone ringing off the hook starting at 8:01, continuing non-stop until the weary receptionist hits "after hours"...perhaps you don't need 2-3 people manning the phone?  
Again, as a patient who has had more than my share of various Dr. visits, I can tell you the greatest annoyance for patients is quite simply...not being able to get in touch with the Dr's office. If I'm going to flame a Dr online, unfortunately for them, it's probably going to be because of their office staff. Some of which is not their fault, but some is. As I've said all along, Dr's take on wayyyy too many patients for their staff to handle. They can't handle the call volumes, calls get lost in the shuffle completely, or the response time harkens back to the days of the pony express.  
If I'm struggling with a 3-4 days raging migraine attack, run out of the only medication that gives me even a bit of relief. I call my Dr office, get the answering machine.  
The office person listens to the message, hears only the teacher's voice from the "Peanuts" cartoon until they hear their buzz words "wah, wah, wah, wah....I need an RX refill. wah, wah wah, wah of medication." What they missed? Please help me! I've had a raging migraine for 4 days and have run out of my medication. Can you PLEASE get a refill called into the pharmacy ASAP!". 
They finally get around to it the end of the next business day (if I'm lucky) and I'm saying "thanks for nothing" as I'm laying in an E.R. bed, hooked up to the I.V. 
Streamlining the whole process through an interactive, online medical platform can only serve to help us all, no?
Posted @ Monday, November 25, 2013 3:04 PM by Cindy
I totally get it Cindy and I have the same frustrations when seeing my doctor. And what you are talking about has nothing at all to do with Social Media. 
You are describing a secure patient portal. This technology exists and has NOTHING AT ALL to do with any thing remotely like Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn or Pinterest. 
In this article I am talking about apples and you are posting comments about oranges. 
You want your doc/provider to have a secure patient portal. Ask them for that the next time you visit their office and see what they say.  
~ Dike
Posted @ Monday, November 25, 2013 5:26 PM by Dike Drummond MD
Healthcare providers can increase quality patient care;increase patient education; increase patient education; 
increase patient loyalty; increase word-of-mouth advertising;and get paid more money if they use social media effectively. 
Media Effectively. Also, a busy physician should never do their own social media, nor should a busy physician set up his/her own examining rooms.
Posted @ Saturday, February 08, 2014 9:50 PM by Dr. Gary Lawson
Thanks for the comment Gary ... now prove it.  
If you read the article then you know where I am coming from here. If there is no direct ROI to the average doctor ... one who sees patients in the office and takes insurance payments for their visits ... they should NOT participate in Social Media ... especially if they are teetering on burnout (as one in three are on any given day) in the first place. 
Your assertions mean nothing unless you can back them up with real case studies of real ROI. I have asked for this proof to hundreds of people for 2.5 years now. Have not seen a case study yet that proves your assertions.  
And it is cool if we disagree too. No hard feelings 
~ Dike
Posted @ Sunday, February 09, 2014 9:00 PM by Dike Drummond MD
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