Why Physicians Are Afraid of Social Media and Why They Shouldn’t Be

January 28, 2015
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Although more than 35 percent of American consumers research health conditions online before calling their doctor, many physicians are reluctant to market their services online. The reasons they give are as numerous as physicians themselves.

Although more than 35 percent of American consumers research health conditions online before calling their doctor, many physicians are reluctant to market their services online. The reasons they give are as numerous as physicians themselves. However, we’ll debunk a few of the more common ones.Healthcare Marketing

Reasons physicians give for not using social media:

1. They feel they should concentrate on healing. Some physicians feel that their primary focus should be on medicine rather than marketing. There’s no denying that healing is the reason you earned your medical license. However, you’ll be able to do the most good the more patients you are able to attract. Use Social Media channels like Facebook and Twitter to help educate your local community on seasonal health topics (like flu season). By sharing your wealth of knowledge, you are more likely to impact more people than by keeping that information within your practice walls. 

2. They don’t have the expertise. Many physicians feel that they don’t have the marketing knowledge necessary to launch an effective and professional online marketing campaign. It doesn’t take a lot of specialized knowledge to be effective at social media marketing. However, there are a number of agencies that specialize in creating and maintaining an online presence for your practice. It’s just a matter of finding a partner that understands your hopes and goals for your business. Outsourcing the responsibility may make sense in your case, but I would use a local agency if applicable. 

3. They don’t have the time. This one I can understand because social media does involve a time commitment. If possible, delegate social media responsibilities to a member of your front desk staff (or even a team). Chances are there are a few staff members who are active on social media channels and can provide guidance to you (or the team) or take ownership of the responsiblity. Social Media marketing is best done in-house because you want to be able to react/post on local current events to get the most exposure within the community. The more physicians learn about Social Media, the easier it becomes to integrate within your everyday routine, lessening the time commitment. 

4. They’re afraid of attracting the “wrong” patients. According to a recent study by Kareo, only about one-third of American physicians use social media sites to market their practices. One reason that was frequently cited in the study for avoiding social media was that such marketing might attract uninsured, expensive-to-treat patients who would end up costing the practice money. However, a thriving, dynamic practice is in a good position to put in practice policies to guard against such an event, such as cash-only, concierge services and/or a no-medicare policy.

5. They are afraid/uncomfortable with computers. To practice effective medicine today, a physician needs to be able to use a computer proficiently. Storing patient records online is a much more efficient and secure way to handle sensitive patient information. This knowledge can translate easily into working with social media and marketing your practice via the Internet.

6. They receive a lot of refferals from other physicians. That’s great! But what happens when some of those physicians move their practice or retire? Best business practices would be to expand your referral generation channels and not put “all your eggs in one basket”. Digital channels (including Social Media) are an efficient and effective means of generating new patient appointments. The dollar investment is usually lower than most traditional marketing channels (Print, TV and Radio), but will involve some time invested in launching programs. 

Marketing your practice online doesn’t have to be scary or time-consuming. Taking the time to embrace online marketing and/or finding a marketing partner who shares your vision can yield surprising results, both in number of people you can help and to your practice’s bottom line.