With a unique voice, good content, patience and consistency, your practice’s social media accounts can become valuable assets.
Understandably, some physicians are resistant to the idea of professionally embracing social media. I truly believe that everyone, can find a way to make these digital platforms work for them. With a unique voice, good content, patience and consistency, your practice’s social media accounts can become valuable assets. Here are a few ways it can pay off:
Interacting with patients to the degree we’d like and fostering great doctor-patient relationships that build loyalty simply isn’t possible all the time. A 2016 study that looked at doctors across 26 specialties found that patients spent an average of 13 to 16 minutes with their doctor, per visit. This is not a lot of time to address a patient’s immediate concerns, much less build a relationship. This is where social media comes in.
Creating a comfortable, safe and educational atmosphere online that showcases your clinical expertise and creates conversations that are relevant to your patients is something that can deliver more face time with the people you serve. Welcoming feedback and supporting peer engagement is a differentiator for your practice and will help you become more relatable. It allows patients to see another side of you.
The more interesting questions your practice posts, and the more interactive the content it shares, the more likely your social pages will build a following. An active forum with patients who relate to one another (and you) will draw attention to your practice and can boost word-of-mouth referrals.
Social media gives providers a platform to post important clinical information, breaking research and inspiring stories to a larger audience. Using social media to share pertinent or helpful information can improve patient education, enhance symptom management and get patients actively involved in their health.
Giving patients more information and visuals empowers them by decreasing the fear of the unknown. The more knowledge your patients have, the better patients they will be.
Social media is a two-way communication model. As a physician, it gives you and your team the opportunity to communicate with your patients, receive valuable feedback and better understand who they are. Patients will be uninhibited when sharing what they like and dislike, because it’s an online forum. Use this to better understand your patients.
If you use this information to understand the patients you treat, you can build a practice that better meets their needs. This works both ways. Physicians can also use social media to attract the types of patients with certain interests and goals that they are most interested in treating. In this sense, by better understanding an ideal patient group and building a direct channel to reach them, a physician can tailor his or her practice to better reflect his or her own personality, business goals and to meet the market’s needs.
In contemporary healthcare, your practice’s success is dependent on both your skills as a physician and the patient’s perception of your skills. Social media is a tool that can help bridge the gap.
Nima Mehran, MD, is an orthopedic surgeon in Los Angeles. How do you use social media in your practice? Tell us at firstname.lastname@example.org.