How Can Physicians Use Social Media Sites to Engage Patients?
Using social media is a great way for healthcare professionals to gain exposure online and to attract new patients. It can also be effective for getting existing patients more involved in matters of their own health. Just like with patient portals, which can integrate with software such as urgent care EMR, social networking sites provide patients with a direct line of communication to their doctors. This means that health and well-being becomes something that patients can think about daily rather than once a year at their annual checkup.
Why use social media? More and more patients are using social media networks to find health information and to connect with patients with similar medical conditions. In fact, according to a survey by the PwC Health Research Institute, one-third of surveyed adults use social media sites as a place for discussions about healthcare. With patients looking for health information online, who better to provide it to them than their own doctor?
By using social media sites such as Facebook, Twitter and Google+, physicians are able to keep in touch with the majority of their patients and to provide them with accurate medical resources that they might not be able to find elsewhere online.
How will my patients find me online? Joining a social media network is easy, which means physicians don’t have a good excuse not to. Once you set your accounts up on one or more sites, you can start spreading the word to patients. One easy way to do so is by handing out cards to patients who come in to your office with the details to each of your accounts. You can also create links to your social media accounts on your website’s homepage. All a patient has to do to receive updates from you is “like” your Facebook page, “follow” your account on Twitter, or add you to their circles on Google+. If that sounds confusing, don’t worry. Your patients will know what to do.
What kinds of posts should I make?
- Updates about your practice (i.e. announcing extended summer hours or a new service).
- Links to interesting medical articles, studies or news.
- Information about educational materials for patients.
- Questions or comments that engage patients. For example, “We’re participating in a walk-a-thon this weekend. What are you doing to stay healthy?”