6 Reasons Why Your Medical Practice Needs A Social Media Strategy

6 Reasons Why Your Medical Practice Needs A Social Media Strategy

Jason Berek-Lewis outlines 6 reasons why your medical practice needs a social media strategy, everything from a large metropolitan hospital to a 1 doctor clinic in a rural town. 

1. Doctors are real people too

The patient/ doctor relationship is the nexus of Western healthcare systems. Doctors’ education and training has become more focused on patients as people, but patients need to see their doctors are ‘real’ too… For too long patients have felt unable to query their doctor’s advice, to ask for a simpler explanation of their health condition and treatment, to make their own views on their health care known.

We live in an era of patient empowerment, but this shouldn’t mean disempowering doctors – by using social media, by being active on a medical practice’s Facebook page or Twitter account, doctors can share their medical knowledge, but also some of their personality too… YouTube is a great way to do this: have every doctor in your practice record a 1 – 2 minute ‘welcome’ message for your practice’s website and post these videos to YouTube too. For example, doctors can use YouTube to talk about the areas of health that interest them the most. By broadcasting a more rounded view of who doctors are – as practitioners and real people – you can help patients to expand the trust they place in members of your team.

2. Discover your colleagues

Clinicians can use social media sites such as Doximity or LinkedIn to learn more about colleagues, to share knowledge or to find practitioners that share interests in specific types of medicine. Social media is a powerful tool for knowledge sharing – with no physical barriers, medical staff in your practice can seek opinions, advice and support from other medical professionals across the globe.

3. Discover your patients

Who are your practice’s patients? Do you know what motivates them to be healthy/ causes them to be unhealthy. Having a Facebook page for your practice can be a great way to spark discussions among your patient community and to learn what matters to them. What you discover could lead to the practice offering classes or creating patient support groups, or even becoming more involved in the local community…

4. Inspire your patients

Why not use Pinterest (http://healthystartups.com/founders-blog/2012/1/24/could-pinterest-be-the-healthiest-social-network.html) to create boards where you can post healthy recipes, exercise tips or motivational quotes? How about using the practice’s Facebook page to organise a community health challenge like a mini marathon or diet goal? You can then use Facebook or YouTube to boast about the challenge’s success…

5. Empower your patients

Provide a space like a blog, Facebook page, YouTube page or forum for patients to share their stories – particularly their health ‘success stories’. Post, or encourage patients to post, some great examples of people losing weight, getting control of their cholesterol levels, keeping track of their INR results, managing the pain of their musculoskeletal condition, becoming better managers of their medications…

Create spaces for people to talk to each other: spark discussions on the health topic of the week on your practice blog (always sharing or crowdsourcing tips to overcome that week’s challenge) or use your social media channels to organise online/offline patient support groups or to share information on new treatments/ therapies.

By creating opportunities to share knowledge and experiences, you will bring your patients closer together and potentially create a supportive community, of which your medical practice and medical staff are the hub.

6. Build healthy communities

While we live in a hyper connected world, we also live in a hyper local one and medical practices are often an important part of a community’s fabric. By focusing on sharing locally relevant health information, promoting local health activities and empowering doctors and patients to share their (health) stories, you can use ‘cyberspace’ to build closer connections and better health outcomes in the real world…

Some tips for building your practice’s social media strategy

  • set clear objectives around how and why your will use social media and what you want to achieve.
  • find out which social media sites are relevant to your patient community and ‘go where the eyeballs are’.
  • make someone in the practice responsible for social media.
  • decide what types of information you want to share.
  • use the offline world to reach out to patients and encourage them to participate on your practice’s social media sites.

Social media is about sharing

Does your medical practice have a social media strategy? Are you a doctor/ who is  working to a social media strategy? Are you a patient who is using a social media tool to engage with your doctor?

Jason Berek-Lewis blogs regularly on his site, Healthy Startups, that chronicles the the disruption of healthcare through new technologies and social media where this article first appeared.  Jason can be found on Twitter at @HealthyStartups

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