The most recent hat tip for alerting me that one of my articles was published goes to @redheadedpharm, who also has one of the most thoughtful pharmacist authored blogs out there IMHO.  I should note that by drawing my attention to the article, TRP does not endorse the contents nor see eye-to-eye with me regarding pharmacists, pharmacy, or social media.  And that’s ok. I have to think no rational person just wants an echo chamber.  In fact, I may revisit the whole ‘landscape of pharmacist blogs’ in a future post if I can figure out a way to do so that doesn’t involve generating the hate e-mail and widespread snark that the AJHP article did.* 

In any event, I did want to share that the article I assisted Drs. Alkhateeb and Latif with is titled Pharmacist use of social media and was published in the International Journal of Pharmacy Practice.  As you can see to the left, this is a Short Communication and essentially provides a snapshot of social media use by pharmacists in West Virginia.  The most frequently used applications in this group of surveyed pharmacists included: YouTube (74%), Wikipedia (72%), Facebook (50%), and blogs (26%). Twitter (12%) and LinkedIn (12%) were also used by the respondents.  In a sense, it was a confirmatory study in that it verified some things we thought we knew about pharmacists and social media.  Some of the findings (e.g., 50% use of Facebook) were a little surprising.  Use of Facebook, in particular was examined a little more in-depth; only 15.8% indicated they used it for any professional purpose.  Usage patterns largely reflected those of non-healthcare professionals…these pharmacists used Facebook to keep in touch with colleagues, chat, upload pictures, etc. 


*It’s interesting how ‘hate e-mail’ can be a touchstone for publication topics.  The pharmacists blog study generated a dubious top 5 level volume of hate e-mail.  It was among the best written hate e-mail (which was oddly encouraging), but didn’t come close to the level produced after our Wikipedia paper came out.  To be fair, the sheer number of Wikipedia users and the widespread coverage** it received probably contributed to its you-are-as-bad-as-the-scientists-doing-research-on-puppies outrage. 

**Curious fact, of all the interviews I’ve done about our research over the years (e.g., New York Times, Wall Street Journal, CNN, BBC, NPR, New Scientist, etc.) the most hardcore fact-checkers were from Good Housekeeping and Fitness Magazine. Seriously.


  1. Clearly the internet, and specifically social media, does play a role in the profession of pharmacy. The extent of that role and whether or not it’s influence on the profession is positive or negative may be debatable but social media does provide a rare opportunity for pharmacists from all practice settings and locations to come together in ways that would not be possible or practical by any other means. I think that social media provides a unique opportunity for pharmacists to collaberate and discuss issues and problems related to pharmacy practice. The internet is a powerful tool and social media is just one of many ways we can use that tool to advance our profession.

    1. Thanks for the comment. I agree in that social media is like any tool (i.e. not inherently good or bad)…it’s all about how it is used. My experience has also been that social media facilitates communication and provides opportunities for collaboration that would otherwise have been unavailable. I think we, as pharmacists, are starting to capitalize on it for the purpose of networking as well as for information filtering/dissemination. The rest of the uses of social media, and specifically its role in engaging with patients, is still up in the air.


  2. What a fantastic discussion. There are definitely more pharmacists on Twitter and other social media avenues. With limited health literacy, Pharmacists have play a huge role in educating patients, healthcare extenders and caregivers on matters influencing health care via social media. Billions of people are heading the web for self care and according to 2011 Pew Report, high % of internet users are seeking medication info. Social media offer several unique features and might advance role of pharmacy in health care initiatives. The ability to disseminate information rapidly through social media make it ideal for pharmacists who to provide innovative health care on both an individual, healthcare providers and public level. Pharmacists also needs to be aware of the patient safety issues.
    Join our Twitter chat (hashtag #Carerx) as pharmacists continue to address this issue, and others topics on healthcare innovation, caregiving issues and pharmacist use of social media


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