Patient Outreach Key Benefit of Social Media for Health Care Providers
Social media benefits for health care providers are evident in the statistics that show how consumers get information and how they research and choose their health care professionals. Regardless of the size or type of a health care organization, social media provides a way for health care providers to promote their practices, services, and encourage patient engagement, all with the goal of building awareness and communicating health-related information.
Why should health care providers use social media?
Why should health care organizations devote time and expense to social media? Today’s patients are demanding a lot more advice than “take an aspirin and call me in the morning.” Today’s patients want information and knowledge, and they want it quickly. They expect to easily find answers to their health questions and concerns, and social media has the ability to provide that to them. A Pew Research study done in the first quarter of 2018 shows that 80 percent of social media users have looked for health information online. Among physician practices, 53 percent demonstrate an understanding of the need to communicate with their audiences via social media, and have a Facebook page, according to an article citing various sources on getreferralmd.com. The article also states there’s a high trust level among consumers regarding Facebook posts from physicians, with 60 percent saying they trust doctors’ posts. And, social media is an effective way to reach baby boomers. 43 percent of that demographic reportedly use social media for health care-related information.
What content are doctors posting on social media?
What types of information are doctors posting on social media? They are posting links to articles published on their blogs, medical studies, information about leading a healthy and active lifestyle, alerting consumers to health issues, and posting calls-to-action, such as reminding people to get a flu shot. All posts need to adhere to HIPAA by respecting the privacy of patients.
Social media channels used by health care professionals
Here’s a look at social media channels used by a variety of health care professionals and 6 examples for each one about the types of information they are posting.
YouTube Content posted by health care organizations
- Virtual tour of the organization’s facility
- Exercises to help back pain
- Tips to get a good night’s sleep
- The benefits of vitamin D
- Nurses speak about the benefits of working at their hospital
- Activities and outreach benefiting a community
Facebook content posted by hospitals
- Announcing awards they are presenting or receiving
- Seeking volunteers
- Posting job openings
- Details about community events they are hosting or participating in
- Patient success stories (These need to have the consent of the patient)
- Tips for healthy living such as healthy eating tips
Twitter posts by health care providers
- Links to blog posts on provider’s or colleague’s website
- Information and link to new health and medical studies
- Clinic hours and information
- Hosted Twitter chats on topics such as dementia, depression, hospice care, women’s health, and more. (These need to be identified by a hashtag, such as #drnancydementia).
- Job fair announcements
- Flu shot reminders
LinkedIn posts by health care practitioners
- Job announcements
- Recognition from the media or the community
- Short video from doctors explaining advances in specific treatments
- Information about conferences that providers are speaking at or participating in
- Information on new medical research and studies
- Employee recognition
Pinterest posts by physician practices
- Infographics with how-to information, such as steps women can take to prevent heart disease
- Link to health care advocacy groups
- Link to new research and medical studies
- Link to boards on Pinterest that others have created with healthy activities, healthy eating, and healthy recipes
- Information about symptoms of specific diseases
- Details about how to prepare for specific medical procedures.
How patients engage on social media
In addition to patients wanting good content, many also want to comment on posts and have other interactions. Without giving medical advice, health care professionals can engage with patients by providing information about services offered, details on new studies or research, and information explaining any health alerts. This can be done through Twitter chats, Facebook groups, YouTube, or Vimeo. With a large enough following, discussion and comment can ensue.
Paying for posts on social media
Posts by businesses on Facebook are now reaching fewer people, which is why it can pay to advertise on Facebook. When advertising, health care professionals can target their audiences by their demographics and geographic locations, making the post reach more people, and reaching those audiences that practitioners want to hear their message.
Pay attention to online reviews
Online reviews are now the new word of mouth for recommending health care providers. Consumers take notice of reviews and use them to make decisions when choosing a provider. According to reputation.com, 80 percent of those surveyed from throughout the U.S. said online ratings and reviews influenced their choice of a provider. Some of these are Yelp, HealthGrades, GoogleMy Business, Facebook, ZocDoc. Healthcare providers should claim their profiles on these sites to make sure it has accurate location and service information and monitor sites to be able to respond to reviews.
Social media is a way for health care organizations of all sizes to connect with patients, network with colleagues and showcase a practice and expertise. Contact us to talk about social media strategy and outreach for your health care organization. Having a mobile-friendly website makes it easy for people to quickly find information on their health care provider’s web site as well as be able to easily contact them. Read more about why it pays to have a mobile friendly website.