Social media is an undeniable force, an integral and constantly evolving part of our lives. Most companies recognize that social media is essential to marketing, but as a regulated industry, many healthcare organizations and providers still avoid its integration, although these regulations become increasingly less of an issue as healthcare organizations develop HIPAA-compliant guidelines to protect patient privacy.1

Social media marketing holds unprecedented opportunities to serve the public meaningfully while increasing awareness and outreach and building credibility as a physician, practice, or organization. Let’s take a look at a few meaningful statistics to illustrate the impact social media has on healthcare:

Between 70 and 75% of consumers in the US look to the internet for healthcare advice, of which 40% say that information found solely on social media affects the way they deal with their health.2

If you’re a healthcare provider, you’ve surely wondered at least once why patients come to you with so many of their own ill-informed ideas on how to treat their illness. Inaccurate medical information floods so much of the internet that patients aren’t sure where to turn or who to trust outside their own social circle of influence. The opinions and viewpoints of people in our social circles online impact our decision-making. You can use social media to become a part of patients’ opinion-forming process when it comes to healthcare.

When you diagnose a patient with an illness, they’re sure to use the internet to research it. If you write blog or forum posts about the causes, symptoms, and treatment options available for that illness, you squelch medically inaccurate information and simultaneously create an opportunity for your patients to trust you and consider you an authority. At this point, healthcare professionals have an obligation to create educational content that will triumph over misleading and potentially harmful information.

41% of consumers say social media affects their choice of a specific doctor, hospital, or medical facility.3

Social media is a crucial channel for healthcare professionals to attract and retain patients. It extends the doctor-patient relationship. Through interactions on social media, you can reach patients and impact the daily healthcare choices they make, as well as offer new patients an impression of you before they even make an initial appointment.

In a survey of 485 doctors, 60% believe social media improves the quality of care they provide.4

In fact, some doctors believe they can actually improve patient outcomes with social media. Studies5 show that when patients are involved in their own healthcare, outcomes improve. Through social media, physicians can increase awareness of new treatment options or ways to manage an illness, which may not be right for every patient, but may foster new conversations with their physicians, as well as increase their awareness of available treatments. Doctors also build their own arsenal of treatment options by connecting and collaborating with other doctors from around the world.

Social media allows healthcare professionals to develop credibility as thought leaders and innovators, build doctor-patient relationships, educate patients, collaborate with colleagues, and further improve the quality of care they provide. If you’re unsure how to get started, contact us to learn more about how we can help you integrate a social media program for your organization.


Sources:

1 Strategies for Remaining HIPAA Compliant While Using Social Media

2 IMS Institute for Healthcare Informatics Social Media in Healthcare Report, 2014

3 PwC HIRI Social Media Consumer Survey, 2012

4 Allied Health World: A Tweet A Day Keeps The Doctor Away

5 Patient Engagement