Despite social media being around for roughly 15 years, healthcare providers seem to be the last individuals to catch on to its advantages. We get asked questions all the time about social media’s validity in the health care world such as, “should I use social media?” or “will I see any return from its use?”.

The answer is a resounding “YES”, if you know where to focus your time, and what purpose social media is meant to serve in the first place.

Here are some statistics in regards to social media and the healthcare industry:

1. 41% of people said social media would affect their choice of a specific doctor, hospital, or medical facility. (source: Demi and Cooper Advertising and DC Interactive Group.)
2. When searching for health information, 77% of online users say they began at a search engine. (source: Pew Research Center)

We’ll pick apart why these stats are so important down below, in the mean time, here are a few simple reasons social media is beneficial for healthcare providers:

1) Reputation Management

Reputation management is a big one in the healthcare world. Actually, it’s huge in multiple industries. Consider a scenario where your practice has come under fire for unfounded claims, or an agitated patient decides to spam review sites with your name.

Social media not only allows you to address claims about your practice, but it also clogs search results with content that you put out when a prospective patient is looking you up. This allows you more ‘real-estate’ on search engines like google, leaving those harmful links to be pushed down, or disassociated with you all together.

2) Break Down The Wall

This is one of my favorite aspects of social media for healthcare providers. Never in our history has the veil been so pulled away between doctors and prospective patients. Posting pictures/videos/information of your practice, staff, and services, allows followers to get a feel for you before even coming in.

This can create a more familiar and welcoming feel for you and your brand. Remember that statistic that “41% of people said social media would affect their choice of a specific doctor”? This plays directly into that. Create a safe and welcoming image on social media and the patients will follow.

The Mayo Clinic has done a wonderful job of this on their youtube page. Here you can find explanation of treatments, physician introductions, and ongoing research videos.

As a side note: This ‘direct access’ to the masses also has more practical uses besides brand identity. Doing construction on your office and need to close a few days? Closed for a snow day? Running a special? Social media will allow you instant access to get your message across.

3) Help Patients Find you

Social media isn’t just helpful for looking good. It can also be extremely helpful for ranking on search engines.

This is where our second stat, “When searching for health information, 77% of online users say they began at a search engine.”, comes into play. If you have a library of social media posts in regards to your services, the areas (towns, cities, etc.) you treat, the more likely you are to pop up when someone searches that particular keyword.

4) Keep Up With Healthcare News

This is less of a marketing reason, and more of an educational reason. Healthcare providers are constantly busy, and continuing education can be difficult. A simple way to keep up with health news is to follow all the research centers and leading experts in your field.

This creates an educational aggregate at your finger tips that you can quickly reference in your spare time.

A Few Things To Consider:

Standard medical ethics do not dissipate online, in fact – they heighten! Here’s a few guidelines to keep you out of hot water:

  • Do not blur the line between a personal social media account and a professional one.
  • Do not discuss a patient online, or reveal identity – unless the patient has given written permission to do so.
  • Do not provide specific medical advice over the internet/social media.
  • Do not post anything inappropriate.

If you would like to read more on guidelines and behavior, check out the American College of Physicians and the Federation of State Medical Boards policy statement.

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