Personally, I feel to ignore the intersection between health care and social media is to potentially ignore our own relevance as a health care practitioner during the next decade ~ Howard Luks, MD orthopedic surgeon and digital media and medicine specialist.
Beyond The Buzz
Healthcare social media is more than just a marketing buzzword; as the Internet increasingly becomes the medium of choice for researching health information, social media has become an important channel for connecting with patients and disseminating and expanding the reach of healthcare information. Social media encompasses social networking sites (such as Facebook, Twitter and Google+), blogs, online communities, and user-generated content sites (such as YouTube and SlideShare). It is a radical shift in the way we communicate; the healthcare conversation is no longer a one-way narrative but is evolving into a global, participatory discussion facilitated by social media.
Educating Your Patients Through Social Media
Social media allows doctors to engage current patients and attract new patients by providing relevant, timely and educational information. It allows you to build credibility and trust, particularly for a younger audience. A study compiled by Demi & Cooper Advertising and DC Interactive Group shows that more than 90% of people ages 18-24 said they would trust health information they found on social media channels. Additionally, 60% of social media users say that they trust social media posts and activity by doctors over any other group.
Building Your Online Reputation
Perhaps you still remain unconvinced about whether it is really necessary or appropriate for healthcare to engage with social media? Consider this. One third of health consumers use social media sites to research health information, track and share symptoms and vocalize how they feel about their doctors, drugs, treatment plans, insurance and medical devices. Many say their choice of a specific doctor, hospital or medical treatment is influenced by social media. And with the advent of patient review sites, and online discussion forums, you risk leaving your brand reputation in the hands of others.
Physicians have two choices, really. They can participate in the discussion that is happening online and frame the story, or they can let someone else frame the story for them ~ Bryan Vartabedian, M.D.
Don’t think because you don’t appear online doesn’t mean you aren’t being talked about. The fact is that patients are talking about you online whether you are there or not!
Erik Qualman, an international keynote speaker on digital media and future trends, says, “We do not have a choice on whether we DO social media, the question is – HOW WELL WE DO IT.”
The Internet has become the medium of choice for researching health information and social media is an important part of how your medical practice can get found online. According to a Think With Google study, 84 percent of patients use both online and offline sources for hospital research. Likewise, search engines drive nearly three times as many visitors to hospital sites compared with nonsearch visitors, and 44 percent of patients who research hospitals on a mobile device schedule an appointment. Healthcare professionals who are not using social media as part of their marketing strategy are missing out.
Social media is the future of marketing. And the future is now. If you don’t already have a social media presence, now is the time to start building one. Talk to us about how we can help you grow your online presence today.