Over the last few years, there have been several important trends emerging relative to physicians’ use of social media. One of the trends is that doctors who have cultivated their presence have developed significant audiences on social media platforms, likely because they are trusted more than other sources of online information, and another is that online physicians tended to be very tightly linked in a network - i.e., when a doctor reports or creates something that is newsworthy, it is likely to not only be seen by other doctors, but questioned, debated and re-shared by them several times over.

Here are 5 influential doctors who have extended their passion for healthcare to social media.

1. Dr. Zubin Damania

With an established fanbase 450,000 strong (affectionately named Z Pac), this Las Vegas-based internist and hospitalist goes by the pseudonym ZDoggMD.

Zubin Damania aims to promote Health 3.0, which transcends and includes Health 1.0 and 2.0. He believes that healthcare should adopt the deep human relationship aspect from Health 1.0 as well as the technological aspect of Health 2.0., and ensuring that the strong emphasis should be on the relationship.

As a wannabe rapper, his witty tagline Slightly Funnier Than Placebo is a perfect description of the content he shares. Once he dons his usual (or unusual) combination of scrubs, stethoscopes and sunglasses, Dr. Zubin Damania transforms into a talented performer, producing satirical medical comedy videos to bring up issues on medical culture and the burnout that healthcare providers face in healthcare.

Although ZDoggMD is best known for music video parodies like promoting early stroke recognition through The Weeknd’s popular hit Can’t Feel My Face, he also engages in other methods to spread his message. To rant about current healthcare issues, there is his go-to character Doc Vader, or for a more serious approach, he uploads Vlogs to generate active discussions among healthcare professionals.

To find out how healthcare can be discussed with a refreshing twist, check ZDoggMD out at http://zdoggmd.com/. 

2. Dr. Kevin Pho

If you are an avid Twitter user, you probably have already heard of @KevinMD. Residing just north of Boston, Dr. Kevin Pho is a practising internal medicine physician, keynote speaker and national media commentator. His Twitter account, @KevinMD, has 149,000 followers and has been recommended by CNN as one of the five Twitter feeds to follow.

Dr. Pho is responsible for the reputable medical website, KevinMD.com. With over 2000 contributing authors including front-line primary care doctors, specialist physicians, surgeons, nurses, medical students, policy experts, and even patients, this website is regularly cited by many major media.

It is of no surprise that Dr. Pho is termed as a social media physician speaker. Social media is the new wave of future in medicine, and his co-authored book “Establishing, Managing, and Protecting Your Online Reputation: A Social Media Guide for Physicians and Medical Practices” explains how it can be achieved.

3. Dr. Wendy Sue Swanson

Best known as SeattleMamaDoc, Dr. Wendy Sue Swanson is a mother, practising pediatrician, Executive Director of Digital Health (Seattle Children’s Hospital) and news reporter. Like many fellow physicians, Dr. Swanson is also active on Twitter as @SeattleMamaDoc. Hers was named as one of the 140 TIME Magazine’s Best Twitter Feeds of 2013.

With a goal to improve the way media discusses paediatric health news, Dr. Swanson’s eloquent medical writing style allows her to step into the social scene. She sits on the Board of Advisors for Parents Magazine and on the board for the Mayo Clinic Center for Social Media.

Dr. Swanson is renowned for her blog (http://seattlemamadoc.seattlechildrens.org/) that aims to provide accurate information for children’s health, thus guiding parenting techniques. As an advocate on the topic of vaccines, she discusses important and sometimes controversial issues on her blog, and was named a CDC Childhood Immunization Champion in 2012. Her writing skills were so well received that she has even published a book, Mama Doc Medicine.

4. Dr. Atul Gawande

Based in Boston, Dr. Atul Gawande is a general and endocrine surgeon by day and a public health journalist by night. With four New York Times best-selling books: Complications, Better, The Checklist Manifesto, and most recently, Being Mortal: Medicine and What Matters in the End, he is a shining example of how medicine and communication should be combined.

As a staff writer for The New York Times since 1998, this surgeon-writer-researcher individual has a well-established presence in the media. 187,000 people, including fellow physicians, currently follow his Twitter account, @Atul_Gawande.

Dr. Atul Gawande once used Twitter to question the morality and role of doctors in interrogation techniques. His 12-tweet series stimulated discussion and was even brought up in the news. As evidenced, his tweets will definitely keep you engaged with recent news and improvement in healthcare. He also has a website at http://atulgawande.com/.

5. Dr. Mike Sevilla

Hailed as a pioneer of social media physicians, he once went by Dr. Anonymous and is now transparently known by his real name, Dr. Mike Sevilla. He is a combination of a family physician and social media enthusiast, and is based in Salem, Ohio.

10 years ago, Dr. Sevilla discussed patient care anonymously through his blog and podcast. His revamped website http://drmikesevilla.com is now a potential place for Family Medicine and Primary Care physicians to share a dialogue. In 2011, Dr. Sevilla was declared as the King of Family Medicine Social Media by the then president of AAFP (American Academy of Family Physicians), Dr. Glen Stream.

To this date, Dr. Sevilla can be found on every form of social media: blog, podcasts, YouTube, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, etc. With 25 000 Twitter followers, he has the ability to reach out to a considerably large audience. MIMS

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