Physicians and other health professionals have nevertheless been slow to adopt social media in their professional lives, in a health industry where insurance reform and electronic records tend to dominate debate over the future of the practice. But, as Stoakes argues, the result has been that there's a lot of terrible medical advice online, a problem that can be tied directly to the rise of "content farms" on the Web--which mean that in a search query for a medical issue, online stalwart WebMD (which has its fair share of critics) may be supplemented with some seriously dubious advice. "We call it the online health gap, that scary place between when the consumer searches and when they actually get to the doctor," Stoakes explained. "There's a massive amount of clutter and misinformation that's growing every day as a result of content farms and these sites that are putting out unverified information. Some of it can be quite dangerous."
But the medical profession's emergence into the social media world is progressing, however slowly. Some doctors provide medical advice anonymously, like the urgent care physician who goes by the pseudonym "Dr. Cranquis" (rhymes with "cranky") and answers all variety of basic medical questions and occasionally provides medical war stories. A sample: "My P.A. saw a toddler with a dental abscess today. Yep, you guessed it: the kid was drinking Coca-Cola out of his sippy-cup."