Medics garner millions of social media followers

Cai Wenjun
Local medical institutions and experts are actively promoting health and have emerged as key social media influencers.
Cai Wenjun

Local medical institutions and professionals are actively involved in health promotion and have emerged as significant social media influencers. Fifteen local doctors have over one million followers on a single media platform, and 42 others have over 500,000 followers.

Dr Zhang Wenhong, an infectious disease expert from Huashan Hospital who rose to prominence during the pandemic, has over 4.1 million followers on Weibo, outnumbering all other doctors in the city, according to the Shanghai Health Commission, which released a ranking list on the influence of local medical facilities and staff on Tuesday.

A health promotion effort involved 173 medical facilities, 248 neighborhood health centers, and 472 doctors.

New media is a key platform that facilities and professionals use to promote health care and disease prevention and control. Last year, 115,903 pieces of health-related material were posted on new media platforms, a 46 percent increase from 2021.

"We are pleased to see that, in addition to city and district hospitals, neighborhood health centers are actively promoting health education," said Wang Tong, director of the Shanghai Health Commission's health promotion section. "Because grassroots facilities and medical staff have stronger relationships with residents, education can be more effective and targeted."

Mutual communication between doctors and the general public on new media platforms increased dramatically last year, indicating that online health promotion is not only a one-way knowledge import but also a mutual conduit for doctors and the general public, officials said.

Local doctors' social media pages received approximately 8 million comments last year, up 31 percent from 2021.

Dr Zou Shien of Fudan University's Obstetrics and Gynecology Hospital, who has 3.4 million followers on Douyin, the Chinese version of TikTok, and 8 million followers across various new media platforms, said that health education involves more than just medical lectures.

"We should talk about what the public cares about and discover new problems during clinical practice to collect new and interesting materials to make the promotion innovative and interesting," he said. "Health promotion is the responsibility of each medical professional, whose job is not only seeing patients and conducting surgery."

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