It’s a social world out there. With nearly 2 billion social media users worldwide, the push for healthcare to continue moving into this space has never been greater.
As the healthcare industry continues the move to interoperability, social media becomes a more powerful tool for physicians to interact with patients.
The role of social media in the future of healthcare is going to continue to become more important as practices move to achieve interoperability. Social media allows physicians the tools they need to find and engage with their patients on important health information, which will only become more useful as the number of social media users is expected to grow to nearly 2.5 billion by 2018 according to Statista. And, when considering the millennial generation, the propensity to search for medical information online is nearly 2 times that of their elder generations. The generation that grew up on social media isn’t going to turn it’s back on it any time soon.
The scope of social media is a huge benefit for healthcare providers that are looking to the future. Tools like Twitter, LinkedIn, and Facebook will allow providers to share health information with their patients, while encouraging them to reach out and ask questions. The potential of social media as a huge medical forum has never been greater.
Does your practice have a sound social media strategy in place? Are both your staff and your physicians actively engaging with patients? If you answered no, it’s time to rethink your position.
Here are a few ways to get started using social media in your medical practice.
1. Create professional accounts
Only use professional accounts that are connected to your practice or organization. Do not use your own personal accounts. In some cases, office staff will create separate accounts that they can use for professional use—such as posting healthcare-related articles or guides on nutrition. You want your patients to engage with you, and you want to keep that engagement professional.
2. Demonstrate consistency of messaging
While each social media platform is different and you will post differently to each, remain consistent in your messaging. Your visions and missions of your practice should always guide the content you share. Your number one priority is to provide quality patient care, so demonstrate that your patients are invaluable to you through patient-centered messaging. Social media in your medical practice should be about patient education and engagement, not about selling services or products.
When in doubt, remember the 80/20 rule: only post 20% about yourself; 80% should be posts about other industry information.
3. Encourage patient engagement
Your goal on social media should be to engage patients with the information you share, whether they are new or existing patients. Post questions like, “What are your healthcare New Year’s resolutions?” and “How do you find time to unwind after work?” These types of discussion starters promote interaction between practice staff and their patients and encourage a patient-centered healthcare system.
At the end of the day, your practice is moving towards interoperability and trying to figure out what that is going to mean for your staff and your patients. Social media is an excellent way to start seeing the benefits of the new value-based, patient-centered healthcare system that our nation is headed towards.