- Global Pharma News & Resources

Healthcare professionals express doubt over shift from X (Twitter) to Threads, research suggests

Healthcare professionals express doubt over shift from X (Twitter) to Threads, research suggests

26 July 2023

Early analysis suggests that a greater proportion of healthcare professionals (HCPs) online have expressed negative sentiment toward the new Meta Threads platform compared to those who are positive. 

The findings, produced by digital insights consultancy, Creation Healthcare, undermine speculation surrounding Threads’ capacity to usurp its more established rival, X (Twitter) and indicate that the transfer of HCP networks from Twitter to Threads may be limited. 

In total, 7,997 Xs (Tweets) were posted on X by HCPs discussing Meta’s Threads. Of these, an analysis of the 100 most shared posts by HCPs has revealed that 37 were negative compared to only 27 that were positive. 35 were neutral. 

Of those that were sceptical of the new platform, a significant factor surrounded the prospect of having to rebuild established X follower networks and the time and effort that this would require. These concerns have been amplified by the absence of hashtags and an unpersonalised algorithm on Threads, which some argue make the task of building a community even harder. Liz O’Riordan, a breast cancer surgeon, flagged this up and told her followers, ‘life is too short to cultivate and nurture a community on another platform.’ 

Some HCPs commented that Threads is ‘more insta and smiley-happy’ than Twitter, while others were frustrated that their feeds on Threads are filled with ‘inspirational quotes and unnaturally positive celebrities’. 

A further 76 HCPs expressed concern on X about Meta’s censorship of free speech, alongside concerns about Threads being a ‘privacy nightmare’, with one doctor expressing his frustration that Meta ‘bans’ him anytime he says the word ‘cannabis’.


The fact that a Threads account must be linked to an Instagram account was also cited by some as a deterrent for HCPs because they want to keep their personal and professional lives separate. This has left some questioning whether it is a suitable home for medical and scientific conversations. 


But… Threads has been turning some heads


Despite this, some HCPs have been positive about the new platform. Between 05 July and 18 July, 309 HCPs told their followers on Twitter that they would be trying Threads and some even shared links to their new Threads profile. Stephanie Graff, who Creation Healthcare identified as a Digital Opinion Leader (DOL) in oncology, has shared original content on Threads, adopting a more positive outlook on the new platform’s potential. Eric Topol, another leading voice in the online HCP conversation, has been sharing some of the same scientific content on both Threads and Twitter, and his posts are receiving similarly high levels of engagement. 


HCPs are hopeful that with the changes that developers are promising, Threads could become a good alternative to Twitter, as there is the potential for Threads to become more patient focused than Twitter. 


One oncologist said he would like to see more ‘engaging w[ith] patient advocates and the cancer survivor community’ on Threads, to which Eleonora Teplinsky replied, ‘I think Threads is going to be perfect for that.’ Jen Gunter also posted a Thread saying ‘I’ve got 10 minutes. Ask me anything!’; 30 members of the public replied to her. 


Notably, without the political legacy of Twitter, some HCPs see Threads as a safer place to address misinformation. 


Hina Talib (@teenhealthdoc) commented that Threads might weave together cross-platform communities, ‘especially to combat misinfo without the vile in DMs and other places.’ Emily Landon (@emilymichelel) said: ‘I can say “mask” and not get called horrific names and be threatened.’  It ‘seems like this maybe the #GoodPlace,’ Shikha Jain replied. 


Overall, Creation Healthcare found that, while there is some positive engagement with Threads among HCPs, they are currently still more hesitant about transferring over their networks to Threads, but many are sitting on the fence to see how it all plays out


Commenting on the findings, Creation Healthcare’s Data Analyst, Emily Fletcher-Louis, said:


“Our analysis suggests that the larger share of healthcare professionals on X are more negative than they are positive toward Meta’s new Threads platform. However, it’s not a uniform picture. There are significant numbers of healthcare professionals who are neutral and appear to be reserving judgement. 


“Nevertheless, it’s clear that there are some doubts about the new platform. The biggest issue is the inability to transfer over long-cultivated followings and audiences from Twitter. This is amplified by the lack of hashtags and the unpersonalised algorithm. 


“But, it’s far too early to write Threads off. Some healthcare professionals have seen some pretty impressive engagement already. Also, the platform holds promise as a more effective way for healthcare professionals to engage directly with patients. It’s clear that there’s more to play out between Threads and its more established rival, X.”

Editor Details

Last Updated: 26-Jul-2023