Healthcare and Social Media: Are They The Right Fit?
Social media was largely considered a novelty until recently but has now become an important workplace tool in many industries. The number of people posting to websites like Facebook and Twitter is growing on a daily basis. In June 2015, Facebook reported 968 million daily users and 844 daily users on mobile devices. Twitter reported 316 million active monthly users.
Many Americans are using social media for health-related information. Social media allows patients with the same health condition to interact, share experiences as well as to learn from each other. They can also recommend doctors and treatments that they have found helpful. Social media can be an extremely useful tool for promoting your practice, but only if it is used wisely.
How Patients Are Affected by Healthcare Information Shared on Social Media
Doctors face the same privacy concerns that all social media users face. They also have a unique set of pitfalls to which they are vulnerable. For example, they have to be mindful of patient confidentiality. Patients have an expectation and right to be treated with dignity and respect. Patient privacy is a big part of that dignity and respect. The Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) is what defines patient privacy. Doctors are required to refrain from posting identifiable patient information on social media and should use privacy settings to protect personal information to the fullest extent possible. They should ensure that any online interaction with patients remains within the appropriate boundaries of the doctor-patient relationship. To that end, doctors should strongly consider keeping their personal and private lives separate on social media websites.
Using Social Media to Promote Your Practice
Social media can allow you to connect with target patients and to influence how they perceive your practice. Physicians who understand entrepreneurship have taken advantage of social media's potential and used it to build successful practices. Mainly, it involves building a brand via social media marketing. Here are some of social media’s benefits that are especially important for physicians:
Improved Patient Experience
When you interact with patients on social media websites, you are telling the world about the service provided by your practice. These interactions are also useful tools for learning about your patients' mindset, which allows you to address issues that they may have encountered at your practice. How you respond to complaints can often be very beneficial for your brand.
The Opportunity to Spot New Trends
Healthcare is constantly evolving and what your patients want will change continually over time. You can start discussions on different platforms like Facebook, Twitter and Google+ to find out how your patients think. These discussions can help you to provide better services at your practice.
Healthcare Practices Can Use Social Media to Grow Patient Relationships
Many experts believe that social media is the most important tool for gaining brand exposure in the modern marketplace. According to a Pew research study from 2013, a third of American adults have used the Internet to help them figure out medical issues. Also, consider the fact that Mayo Clinic podcast listeners rose to 76,000 a month after they clinic began using social media. Responding to a survey from Demi & Cooper Advertising and DC Interactive Group, 41 percent of respondents said that social media affected their choice of healthcare provider.
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