According to Pew Internet, 72% of internet users say they looked online for health information within the past year. While this shows a positive trend in consumers taking an interest in their health, this percentage can also bring issues as those seeking information online begin to “self-diagnose” while viewing incorrect or fictitious medical advice. Social media gives physicians and practices the ability to provide relative, factual information to their patients and guide them to correct advice. By establishing a reputation for disseminating relevant educational information, patients will tend to refer to your advice before searching randomly for outside information
Often times, patients are looking to connect with others that may be experiencing similar circumstances. Numerous examples of patients undergoing treatment for serious diseases such as cancer have been referenced when it comes to emotional support garnered from social media. Allowing patients to discuss and confide with one another can bring additional inspiration and well-being to those in a difficult position.
Social media provides a space for practices and physicians to welcome new and current patients to the organization. Posting pictures of staff members and in office events let patients know those working in the office are much more than healthcare providers, but rather people just like them! Be sure to get your physicians involved and share information about what they like to do outside of the office and give patients the chance to see further into their provider’s personality.
Many organizations report much higher engagement in non-medical postings than information relating directly to healthcare. The more you create a brand personality, the more your patients will feel like they are a part of the group!
Those that have taken the time to like your page or follow you on Twitter rarely want to simply sit back and take in information; they want to get involved! Feature contests with fun giveaways, trivia, or ask questions about their opinions. Again, the more you involve and form relationships with those engaged in your social media presence the more they will feel included.
Social media is a great way to get the word out about accomplishments, awards or upcoming events. Use these outlets as a way to share information about your practice with customers. When you are promoting specials, contests or events, it would be impossible to pick up the phone and call all your patients to alert them; however, social media allows you to do just that… spread the word!
Be creative, post a picture or video to promote an event or interview a physician about a recent accomplishment. Use these platforms to promote your business by sharing what you do best and getting others involved in your practice!Social media offers many valuable attributes.
As more patients continue to include themselves in the conversation and enter the social media space, be sure your practice is available to them. Go it alone, or invest in some assistance; either way, now is the time to get involved!
(social media in medicine / shutterstock)