Google Circles may be why physicians will embrace Google+

Google Circles may be why physicians will embrace Google+After playing around with Google+ today, I’ve come away on a more positive note than my speculative post on Google’s social network recently.

Before experiencing Google+, I asked whether doctors can separate their personal and professional relationships, and how the Google Circles feature would help.

Well, if Google+ ever takes off for physicians, it will be because of Circles.

Tech blogs, however, are skeptical that most users would want to categorize their friends.

TechCrunch’s MG Siegler, for instance, writes,

Google has smartly made it so that you have to add people to Circles in order to “follow” them. This is a slight barrier to entry in terms of digging in and using the service, but it does bolster the Circle idea. But instead of creating a bunch of Circles, I foresee people simply shoving everyone into the default “Friends” or “Following” Circles and going about their business.

And consider PC Magazine’s take on the concept:

While I agree that most people separate their contacts into various groups in real life, doing so in a social network is a chore. It’s one of the reasons we have different social networks (LinkedIn for work, Facebook for friends, etc.). Asking people to do this kind of organizing proactively, on a single network, vastly overestimates the patience of Web users. Sure, some people are very organized and left-brained (like the engineers who created Google+), with spotless inboxes and well-maintained lists of contacts, but my feeling is that the vast majority aren’t.

While placing friends in different Circles may be an extra, unnecessary step for most, it’s essential for doctors who participate in public social networks.  Google+ forces you to classify contacts immediately, which makes it easy to have, say, a personal “Friends” Circle, and a more professional “Colleagues” Circle.  Better yet, these Circles can have different news streams, which makes it easy to separate personal and professional content.  It’s pretty slick.

Facebook has a similar feature, called Groups, but it’s cumbersome to use, and comes late in the game when users have already amassed hundreds of unsorted friends.

If Google+ ever reaches a critical mass, it has potential to be the social network of choice for physicians.  And Google Circles will be the main reason why.

Kevin Pho is an internal medicine physician and on the Board of Contributors at USA Today.  He is founder and editor of, also on FacebookTwitter, and LinkedIn.

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  • Robert

    My problem is actually that I have made too many circles. I think they need to allow circles of circles. That way I could put all my medical posting in one circle, but if I had allergy specific that would be a sub-circle, general would be another sub-circle, etc.

  • lukethelibrarian

    Robert, that’s smart. I don’t know if you already did, but I’m going to submit your suggestion as Feedback on Google+ to give it my +1, if you will.

    I commented on Kevin’s article and pointed out another potential advantage of Circles for doctors (and others in healthcare) at

  • Aldon Hynes

    Robert – I currently have a couple dozen circles. I’m not sure there is a big problem of having lots of circles. That said, the idea of circles within circles is one that a lot of people have been talking about and submitting feedback on. I’ve also been suggesting that we need boolean logic on circles, and perhaps even rules processing.

    It is still a limited field trial, and I expect that we’ll see a lot of these ideas coming. As an aside, I’ve created a #hcsm circle. If you’re on Google+ and talk about #hcsm, let me know, and I’ll add you to my circle.

    For more thoughts, see my blog post,
    Additional Random Thoughts on Google+

  • Robert

    So in some sense circles of circles do exist, just not elegantly. I have found it useful to make broad circles based on what my post will be about and not necessarily who is in the circle. For example “family” is not my family members, but people who will care about an update involving my kids. Similar circles for “personal” “city” “medicine”. Then I have smaller circles that are more descriptive of who is in them. “College friends” “allergy colleagues” etc.

    It works, because picking a whole bunch of circles every time you make a post is a big pain. On the other hand, it’s awkward to keep track of who is in what circle, and being able to drag entire circles into another circle and then drag it out later if needed would be a much easier way to organize.

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