We use social media to interact with people, gather information, keep up with the news, and entertain ourselves.
Many people also use it to learn about their health. So, if we have a medical practice, we might want to meet these people in areas that already interest them.
Social media could help us build our medical practices because it lets us do so much.
Connecting medical professionals and patients
The word social in social media indicates just what kind of media it is.
Since they’re social, platforms such as blogs, Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, TikTok, YouTube, and LinkedIn connect people.
Connections come in all forms. Your medical practice could post general information about your office on Facebook. You might also write blog posts or make videos that talk about specific conditions or topics.
Of course, users need to be sensitive about sharing information and should follow HIPAA guidelines and other requirements. But if your medical practices handle health-related information lawfully and sensitively, you could really reach your patients.
Social media postings and other connections could come with options that allow people to comment on content, ask questions, or interact with your medical practice in other ways. This interaction could create and sustain connections between your medical practice and the patients you serve.
Uniting fellow medical professionals
Patients and professionals aren’t the only entities sharing current information with each other on social media.
Many know Twitter as a place politicians and celebrities go to express their views and promote their projects. It’s also a forum for medical information.
Some professionals use the forum at medical conferences to post comments about the presenters’ topics.
Exchanging such information in real-time could help speakers consider how the audiences are interacting with their findings. The exchanges could also help listeners understand the material better, and later, they could apply this thorough understanding to their work with patients and others.
Twitter also offers videos related to conferences that are targeted directly to healthcare marketers. The Twitter services include insights before the conferences occur, updates during and after the events, and content related to what occurred there. It’s another way to use social media to connect and inform.
Since social media connects healthcare providers and patients as well as medical professionals and other professionals, it isn’t surprising that it also links patients with each other.
While medical professionals provide expert assistance, unless they’ve had certain conditions themselves, they don’t fully know what it’s like to live with them.
Other patients do, though. By joining and participating in patient-driven social media platforms such as PatientsLikeMe (PLM), patients could learn about their conditions.
More importantly, they could share personal, firsthand health information that might include
Symptoms of their conditions
How their conditions make them feel physically and mentally
What kinds of treatments they’re exploring
The effectiveness and costs of their treatments
This information is useful on a factual basis. It’s also psychologically important because it reassures people that they’re not alone and that assistance is available.
When medical practitioners use social media platforms, they’re exchanging information. They’re also doing so much more.
Used correctly, factual information could offer assistance that’s less immediately obvious but still important. Information could build trust.
Sharing correct and useful facts could build trust, gain followers, and attract patients. Practices could consider sharing public health updates from government health agencies, linking to pages about disease and conditions from respected universities, and creating brief posts about health commemorations, such as National Recovery Month in September.
By doing so, they’ll be reporting facts about actual occurrences, not rumors and hearsay. They’ll be leveraging respected institutions to help them gain trust as well.
Dispelling fears and misconceptions
Discussing reputable information also provides other benefits.
Creating and sharing correct, trustworthy content is especially important to counter the large amount of content on social media and the internet that’s incorrect and even dangerous.
The COVID-19 pandemic has demonstrated that many people are willing to offer their opinions about health-related matters, and many are willing to listen. But opinions are just that, opinions.
Offering facts from trusted sources is a better way to position a medical office as a trusted health source. This trustworthiness could calm people’s fears and soothe their worries.
To take things a step further, your medical office could create blog posts or other social media messaging that lists health-related misconceptions and explains why each is wrong (using links to updated fact-based sources, of course).
Providing timely feedback
Information should be factual and trustworthy. It should also be timely.
Correcting inaccuracies should occur as soon as possible. If they linger and spread, people might keep quoting these mistakes. Their prevalence could lead people to believe that they’re actual established knowledge, not the myths that they really are.
Quick corrections help ensure that mistaken beliefs don’t take hold and spread. They also help reassure people who are currently worried that bad things (or even the worst) could happen to them or their loved ones.
Such corrections could be as simple as creating a short Facebook post or a brief TikTok or YouTube video. The message could say something like, “I understand that people have said certain things, but here’s what’s really happening…”
Timely, accurate information positions your medical office as a trusted voice. Using social media to deliver your messages also illustrates that it’s a relevant one.
By adapting to the latest technology, your practice isn’t trying to look cool. Instead, you’re using the latest tools to help your patients.
When you offer a quick video explaining a topic in the news, you’re showing patients that they understand their concerns and are working to alleviate them.
Developing and sharing specialized messages
Do you practice a medical specialty?
Specialties are able to provide customized care. But because your area of work is so specific, patients might not know what your office addresses.
Posts and videos on the internet and social media could help you explain the conditions you treat and how you treat them. They could humanize medicine and your practice, demonstrating that you’re available to help.