THE OUTLOOK FOR HEALTH CARE IN 2023:

What you need to know about the forces reshaping our industry.

X

Cheat Sheet

Online Clinician Communities Cheat Sheet

Key Takeaways
  • Online clinician communities allow health care professionals to network with each other, digest and debate the latest clinical evidence, and stay up-to-date on the evolving clinical landscape.
  • Online clinician communities directly influence how clinicians make decisions, treat individual cases, and learn about new advances in medicine.
  • They are also changing how medical evidence is disseminated and circulated amongst clinicians, and allow a broader set of individuals to have “influence” in medicine (beyond traditional academic thought leaders.)
  • All parts of the health care industry can use online clinician communities to improve care delivery and patient outcomes, but there are unique opportunities for each sector.
 

What are they?

Online clinician communities are online networks that allow health care professionals to connect with each other, digest and debate the latest clinical evidence, and stay up-to-date on the evolving clinical landscape. There are two categories of online clinician communities:

  • Open communities: Do not require physicians to verify their credentials prior to engaging in medical discussions; accessible to the general public. Examples include: Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, Clubhouse.
  • Closed communities: Exclusive groups that require physicians to verify their credentials prior to engaging in medical discussions. Examples include: Doximity, Sermo, Figure 1, Medscape Consult, C-SATS.

Many online clinician communities have extensive user bases that span physician types, specialties, geographies, and tenure. For example, over 800,000 verified doctors across 150+ countries are members of Sermo. Nearly all types of health care professionals (HCPs) - including physicians, specialists, surgeons, primary care physicians, medical students, nurse practitioners, pharmacists, and more, are members of Doximity.

Image Want to learn about the 15 closed online clinician communities worth watching?
Image Check out Advisory Board’s Online Clinician Community Watchlist for an in-depth analysis.
 

Why do they matter?

There are three main reasons why online clinician communities matter for the entire health care ecosystem:

  1. Conversations on online clinician communities directly influence clinical decision-making. Online clinician communities allow clinicians to access crowd-sourced solutions to individual cases, learn about new advances in medicine, gain insight to support treatment decision-making, and access real-world evidence to better understand and predict patient outcomes. For example, data from Figure 1 found that 40% of clinicians who are unable to resolve a patient case on their own find a resolution through peer-to-peer collaboration on Figure 1.
  2. They’re changing how medical evidence is disseminated and generated. Online clinician communities allow HCPs to discuss and debate clinical evidence from multiple sources in real-time – complementing (and replacing) the activities typically done at conferences or in journals. Those conversations provide clinical insight not captured in existing research, supplementing the existing evidence base and creating a constant circulation of evidence at scale. They can also help health care stakeholders glean information about unmet medical needs, physician’s clinical decision-making processes, and gaps in research. For example, conversations on online clinician communities provide insight into physician’s perceptions of standards of care and treatment options, how clinicians decide what medical products to use, and how the current evidence base (or lack thereof) informs treatment decisions.
  3. Individuals who have influence in online clinician communities differ from those in traditional power structures. In online clinician communities, a large and diverse range of voices – rather than a small group of traditional academic thought leaders and key opinion leaders who are published in prestigious journals or speak at conferences– have established credibility and influence. Notably, the most influential clinicians online are those who frequently engage with their peers, who invest time in teaching and disseminating knowledge, and who can share knowledge from their “lived experiences” (e.g. serve unique/diverse patient populations, have experience treating a specific condition, have historically marginalized identities).
Image Interested in how online clinician communities will impact the entire health care ecosystem?
Image Check out our article, “Online clinical communities: why the health care ecosystem needs to pay attention,” to get the latest insights.
 

How do they work?

Every online clinician community is different, and every clinician uses online clinician communities in a variety of ways. However, there are seven use cases that are consistent across all top online clinician communities.

Online clinician communities allow clinicians to:

  1. Network with peers through online discussion forums, messaging, telehealth services, and newsfeeds
  2. Stay current on emerging treatments by sharing the latest clinical literature, discussing practice-changing updates with peers, and viewing news updates
  3. Crowdsource answers to individual clinical cases through exclusive (and HIPAA-compliant) case-sharing forums
  4. Get personalized feedback on skills (e.g. surgical techniques)
  5. Access clinical decision support tools such as drug interaction checkers, clinical guidelines and pathways, and dosing calculators
  6. Earn continuing medical education (CME) credit
  7. Connect with featured key opinion leaders (KOLs) and other experts who treat patients with specific conditions or serve unique patient populations
Image Want to learn more about the top 15 online communities for clinicians?
Image Check out Advisory Board’s Online Clinician Community Watchlist for an in-depth analysis covering the users, user types, primary use cases, speed and scope of growth, and sector relevancy of 15 online clinician communities. The watchlist also provides additional commentary on what stands out about each online clinician community covered, including (but not limited to) the community’s value relative to others, popular and emerging use cases, and current and future growth potential.
 

Conversations you should be having

 

Sector Conversations
Provider organizations
  • Encourage clinicians to use online communities to stay current on the latest clinical evidence, grow their network, and connect with peers
  • Use online clinician communities to improve clinical practice and upskill staff
  • Leverage networks to expand your presence, influence, and national or local reputation
Individual clinicians
  • Use platforms like Doximity and Sermo to stay up-to-date on the latest clinical evidence, connect with clinicians and build your network
  • Consider using platforms like Medscape Consult or Figure 1 to crowdsource answers to difficult cases
  • Evaluate when it is appropriate to share insight in open channels (e.g. Twitter) versus closed, secure platforms
Payers
  • Understand how your medical and pharmacy staff can leverage these resources to inform formulary and utilization decisions
  • Use online clinician communities to understand how providers want data or information presented to them, what information they feel like they’re missing, and how practical/logistical hurdles impede approaches to care
Life sciences organizations
  • Identify opportunities to partner with online clinician communities for insight and evidence generation
  • Engage your customers in discussions about when and how they use online clinician communities
  • Use conversations on online clinician communities understand customer perceptions of your products and company
Technology vendors
  • Consider how to leverage different online clinician communities and digital platforms for RWE generation
  • Assess opportunities to integrate online clinician communities into your existing offerings (e.g. HTAs, clinical decision-support tools, EHRs)
Patient advocacy organizations
  • Encourage clinicians to use online communities to advocate for treatments and better care

Have a Question?

x

Ask our experts a question on any topic in health care by visiting our member portal, AskAdvisory.