Although the medical field consistently embraces technology, many healthcare leaders and physicians are either hesitant or refuse to use social media. Some are not savvy with online communication, and others are reluctant because they don’t see any benefit in the time invested. However, these platforms can generate a significant return on investment for healthcare professionals who establish a strategic online presence. Read on to discover how developing a high social media IQ can humanize healthcare and positively impact your hospital or health system.
Help patients who don’t even step foot in your office
Since patients are becoming empowered to conduct online research about their health, healthcare leaders should have a voice in the narrative. Most online information is neither controlled nor accurate, so it’s important that medical professionals are aware of the dialogue and contribute content that is both informative and readily available. The American Osteopathic Association’s online survey found that nearly one-third (32 percent) of sampled Americans have taken action related to their health—such as changing diet, exercise, or medication—as a result of information they read on social media. This statistic is very powerful for two different reasons. First, people could be trusting inaccurate sources and making detrimental decisions based on those findings. Second, this shows that medical professionals have an easily accessible tool to impact patients’ lives without even meeting them positively. All you must do is produce meaningful, engaging content to establish yourself as a thought leader in the social stratosphere.
Write your review
What would a quick Google search say about a physician at your facility? More than 40 percent of people look online for information about physicians; one-third of patients will click on the first result in a search, and fewer than 10 percent of people will read the second page of results. It’s prudent for medical professionals to be aware of their online presence so that they can balance out negative comments if necessary. Prospective patients often search for reviews on public sites, like Facebook and Yelp. Sometimes, patients leave positive reviews, which can encourage someone to see a provider and positively benefit your organization. However, sometimes their experience wasn’t favorable.
So, how can physicians improve their online presence? By sharing informative articles, publishing studies, and posting relevant anecdotes, providers can essentially create their own reviews. Their positive content becomes available to people who are seeking information and enhances the physician or healthcare organization’s credibility. Since patients are actively searching for pertinent information, medical professionals should try to produce content that will help patients see their positive contributions, and that will illustrate their character. That way, one negative review probably won’t have as large an impact as all the valuable pieces of information the physician has posted.
Run damage control
Monitoring social media also can provide an opportunity to control negative situations or fix a less-than-desirable opinion. Raymond Hino, the administrator of a California-based surgery center (and former president and CEO of a West Coast medical center), writes a FierceHealthcare web post encouraging hospital and healthcare leaders to develop a high social media IQ.
Hino shares an anecdote about his perusal of Facebook as an administrator. He received a notification about a post from a patient regarding his facility that made him uneasy. He then consulted the patient’s physician and read him the post. During the next appointment, the physician didn’t tell the patient that he was aware of the post, but because he already knew some of the patient’s feelings, he could check in to ensure there were no unaddressed concerns. After the appointment, the patient included a positive review of the physician and the facility on Facebook. By taking a few extra minutes to monitor the surgery center’s social presence, the facility was able to create a positive patient experience and receive a recommendation simultaneously. Even though the communication required some attention, it was well worth the effort.
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