In our technology-driven society, many patients make their health choices based upon the direction they receive from peers, colleagues and role models via social media. As a result, social media has altered the way in which patients approach their health and their expectations in clinical care. Many physicians are fearful of the unknown and choose to remain silent across social media due to liability and privacy concerns. But, I am here to tell you that it is possible to have a good balance of transparent communication, while conforming to the necessary limitations of the industry. With a good strategy in place, physicians have the most to gain by properly using social media to market their practice, share their years of experience and chime in on discussions with colleagues in the industry. With such a variety of social media channels, it’s also important for physicians to learn how to use each one to their advantage. If you have no social media and are looking to start, I would begin with Instagram, youtube and facebook. All three of these social channels have millions of active users, all looking for ways to engage with people from every aspect of their life and beyond. That being said, here are some ways that physicians can benefit from engaging with the social media world.
If you want yourself or your practice to stand out from the rest, the use of social media gives you a chance to tell your story and attract new patients. Social media acts like a megaphone, amplifying your message and potentially reaching people who may have no clue who you are yet. This is super effective when it comes to patient testimonials and connecting with other referring doctors online. It’s a powerful and cost-efficient branding tool, enhancing the reach of your reputation. Also, most social media channels have back-end analytical tracking, so you can accurately see the effects your posts are making and who they are reaching. Because some physicians sit on the sidelines of the social media game, others have an opportunity to take a leadership role and put themselves ahead of the competition. Social media is an extremely powerful platform that allows physicians to position themselves as an expert in their specialty.
If you let your patients know that they can follow you on social media to get tips and information on their health, they are more likely to feel a closeness to you and your practice. The physician-patient relationship is two sided and social media provides a way for both to speak, listen, understand and learn from one another. While other industries care about the number of likes and followers they obtain on social media, physicians should focus on the impact created. Simply, it’s all about building the ultimate trust factor.
“After 9 years of being a Physician Assistant in the Emergency Department, I finally put myself on social media. I begin to tell my patients to follow me after discharging them to another department or sending them home. My following grew quickly, and I was able to share recovery tips and my exciting, unpredictable journey as an Emergency PA. I now have patients letting me know that I have changed their lives and inspired them to become a doctor, and patients that have taken my health advice to heart and feel better than they have in years. Also, I myself have been inspired by other physicians via social media, which has helped me grow exponentially as a person and professional.” – Cassandra Karn, PA | California
Let’s face it, social media has become a necessity for many industries. By leveraging social media strategically, physicians can reach target audiences, boost patient engagement, and improve health outcomes. Social media will continue to change as it matures, and no doubt new platforms will spring up and gain popularity. But it’s important that physicians remain vigilant about the evolving world of social media so that they can utilize it as well as possible.
If you are a physician and have always looked at social media as a daunting task, remember it’s all about perspective. Try and have fun with it and remain positive! Your popularity won’t happen overnight, but once you see the impact you will make on your patients, it all worthwhile.
If you would like some complementary social media consulting, feel free to reach out to the Pacific Companies marketing department at 714-619-3087 or email firstname.lastname@example.org