It goes without saying; the healthcare industry is experiencing a technological boom. With the push for physicians to take their practice in a digital direction, doctors have been thrust into a new era of patient care. As if the burden to comply with government incentive regulations weren’t enough, physicians are now experiencing increased pressure from the social community to jump into the online world of healthcare.
Consider the weight of 140 characters. It can be quite heavy. With just one disapproving tweet or Facebook post, a physician’s online reputation can be instantly tarnished and left for thousands, or even millions, to see. Jumping in the ring and being an active participant in the online conversation surrounding the brand of your practice could be the saving grace. Physicians are catching on to the extreme benefits of being “social” and using their online presence to help grow their practices and engage their patients and colleagues.
A recent blog post by the Wisconsin Healthcare Public Relations & Marketing Society shows 67% of doctors use social media for professional use. Those doctors aren’t talking to themselves. WHPRMS also states that 60% of people who use social media trust posts by their doctors. With more patients choosing to get information about their healthcare from the World Wide Web, the industry has become consumerized and the collective voice of the patients reign supreme. Choosing to engage patients in general conversation concerning health can reap major benefits for the tech savvy doctor. For example, WHPRMS sites the Mayo Clinic’s podcast which dramatically increased its number of listeners to 76,000 after just one month of using social media.
Although the rules to healthcare are evolving to fit this new generation of patients, physicians must still be mindful to post with a plan. Take caution not to compromise patient confidentiality and remember, what you choose to post could have lasting consequences for your practice. Posting aimlessly and without a specific purpose can be a dangerous game for doctors to play. Social accounts such as Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and Google+ can be of great use to a private practice but before jumping into the “twittersphere,” consider these three questions: What will be the focus of my account? How often will I post? Who will be my target audience?
Taking the time to strategically lay out a foundation and plan of action for your social media accounts will ensure a solid online presence. Consider your social accounts a forum for you to engage your patients through general information that will enhance their knowledge of their healthcare. Seize the opportunity to evolve with the industry, 140 characters at a time!