Social media… Everyone seems to be doing it yet some industries seem more suited to the benefits of social media than others. Although at times we tend to think of the medical industry only when we need care, it is perfectly suited for social media, connecting health care professionals with their patients in a new way that is here to stay. And while social media helps health care professionals stay in contact with their current patients, the farther-reaching effects include new business, referrals and even increased traffic to websites like this one, where patients and consumers can find great information in a quickly changing world.
Let’s face it, there are A LOT of people sharing our piece of the planet. With such immense resources, it can sometimes feel daunting to seek out medical advice. However, growth in technology is bringing people together in some amazing ways. Today, nearly 78% of the US population has at least one social media account and that number grows to two billion people worldwide. Facebook alone has over one billion active monthly users! To put that in perspective, that means that around 80% of patients have a social media account. That is a large audience! Additionally, one-third of patients use these channels to seek out health-related advice. And while there is an overwhelming amount of information available right at our fingertips, the accuracy of that information is imperative. Just ask anyone who has ever felt the symptoms of the flu coming on and, after checking online, becomes convinced of the worst case scenario. That’s a pretty common occurrence and one that today’s health care professional would like to help people avoid. Not only are doctors and nurses more accessible to patients, but they can rest assured knowing that the information they are getting is from a trusted source, who has their best care in mind, rather than an anonymous website.
Why so many online searches for something as important as health care? For some, visiting the doctor can be a scary experience. Indeed, it is the rare person who actually enjoys a medical visit. Some experts believe that as much as 20% of the population of the US suffers from “white coat syndrome”, in which the patient’s blood pressure surges when measured in the doctor’s office. Some people may not even feel anxious or be aware that this is happening until they are in the chair. By connecting with patients online, health care professionals become much more accessible and “human”, not just who they see when they are feeling bad. A positive by-product of such a relationship is removing the fear factor from the doctor visit. Patients want to know that their health care provider is there to help and seeing others liking and following posts allows higher visibility among friends, family and community, extending awareness of your practice. Services like Twitter have the additional perk of allowing you to join conversations related to an area of expertise based on location searches. These conversations make it possible to develop relationships between doctor and patient, extending reach and accessibility to both parties.
The heart and soul of the medical practice lies in patient care. Attention-grabbing posts, health care tips and patient success stories all add up to increased awareness, and a closer relationship with the community. Effective use of social media can help you compare, identify and improve the quality of care provided as well. Patient reviews are wonderful tools and a great indicator of how you are doing. Of course, the positive reviews are the ones we like to see but negative reviews are not necessarily a bad thing. In addition to providing insight into concerns that a patient may not want to voice in person, they present the unique opportunity to respond to, and resolve, matters in a timely manner and a transparent way. Your social channels also give you a fast and easy way to share events and news about your practice, alert patients of upcoming changes and increase awareness for a wide variety of topics.
More and more hospitals and health care organizations are reaping the benefits of social media. With over 40% of patients turning to social sites specifically for health care information, the opportunities are endless. It is an exciting time to see connections grow and build positive relationships far outside your office.
For more information on what Dr Marc Ellis and his team at the Georgia Chiropractic Nuerology Center offers, please visit us at http://healthybrainnow.com.