It's a mistake if you're not on social media

January 27, 2018

As a healthcare provider, if you're not on social media by now, you should seriously consider it.

Editor's Note: Welcome to Medical Economics' blog section which features contributions from members of the medical community. These blogs are an opportunity for bloggers to engage with readers about a topic that is top of mind, whether it is practice management, experiences with patients, the industry, medicine in general, or healthcare reform. The series continues with this blog by Jonathan Kaplan, MD, MPH, a board-certified plasic surgeon based in San Francisco, California. The views expressed in these blogs are those of their respective contributors and do not represent the views of Medical Economics or UBM Medica.

 

As a healthcare provider, if you’re not on social media by now, you should seriously consider it. More patients are going from social media to surgery than ever before. As the story below will show, this is actually a reasonable way to find your doctor.

First step: Lead generation

Recently, a patient asked me a question on Instagram regarding the price of a procedure. She’s not alone. Whenever we post a photo or video of our services on Snapchat or Instagram, one of the first questions is, “how much does it cost?” And this doesn’t just apply to cosmetic services.

Whether it’s a cosmetic procedure or a medically necessary procedure paid out of pocket before a deductible is met, everyone wants to know his or her out-of-pocket costs before committing to a non-emergent procedure. It’s no different than wanting to know the cost of a car before going to the dealership or the cost of a house before going to the showing.

But back to my patient, and for that matter, all social media followers asking about cost. What if we simply replied to the patient’s question on social media and told them the price? We would have no way of following up with them. Sure we’d know their social media handle but following up with a patient on their social media page is a bit stalker-ish.

 

RELATED: The definitive guide to sustained patient engagement

 

In other words, a social media follower is comfortable with you answering their question on your page. They’re not OK with you as the provider following up with them on their page a week later to see if they have any additional questions. It’s an unwritten rule of social media.

That’s why we redirect social media followers asking about price to the BuildMyBod Price Estimator on our site to check pricing. To check the price on a procedure-of-interest, they must first provide their contact info and opt in to our follow-up protocol. That protocol includes an instant, automated email with their estimate (shown below) as well as a phone call from my office to see if they have any questions. Because they’ve given us their contact info along with permission to contact them, we can. No such permission is given when simply answering their question on social media.

The reason this works so well and generates so many leads for follow up is because there’s no better “hook” than pricing. Everyone wants to know how much this is gonna cost them!     
    

Next: Moral of the story

 

How social media can be a responsible form of self-education for a patient

After we’ve established contact, we can start the education process. That includes answering questions via email or by phone. They can even watch surgery on our Snapchat and Instagram stories.

By redirecting them to our price estimator and capturing contact info, we get them into our sales funnel early. Now we can provide them with limitless education in regards to how we do things. This level of education is unprecedented.

 

MORE FROM DR. KAPLAN: How to use price transparency to attract patients

 

In the past, the typical patient came in for a 30-45 minute consultation, not knowing much about the doctor or the procedure. Compare that to the new type of patient watching doctors that are active on social media. Prior to their consultation, the patient has followed their future doctor in their “natural habitat” for weeks to months on Snapchat or Instagram stories. The knowledge base between these two patient types is incomparable.

Video: Finally, surgery day arrives!

Video: https://youtu.be/BkocBo8QhL0

As shown in the video above, the patient that started out as a social media follower, makes her way to the operating room. This was very fulfilling and exciting to see this anonymous patient pass from engagement to education, and finally to surgery. 

The moral of the story: Provide pricing on your terms (with a price estimator), and get something in return (a lead)!

 

 

Dr. Jonathan Kaplan is a board-certified plastic surgeon based in San Francisco, Calif. and founder/CEO of BuildMyBod Health, an online marketplace for healthcare services that allows consumers to determine cost on out-of-pocket procedures, purchase non-surgical services, and in exchange, the healthcare providers receive consumer contact info - a lead, for follow up.

x