Nov 2, 2019 · 4 min
The world is turning digital, and the healthcare industry is following suit. People no longer need to rely solely on face-to-face healthcare, not when social media has provided an online avenue for healthcare organizations to care for patients.
Social media has opened up a digital world for the healthcare industry to seamlessly share information, educate on topics, connect with others, and spread awareness of issues essential to public health. Social media is especially a key tool in sharing information because more people now receive their news from social media than printed news sources, making it an imperative learning and news source.
Beyond simply sharing information, there are a variety of ways in which the healthcare industry, and medical practices specifically, benefit from social media. Continue reading to learn some of the benefits:
Social media is a fantastic way for physicians to engage with their patients, have a lively online presence, and potentially enhance their reputation. Online reviews are an important tool in marketing a business, as about 72% of patients first consult online reviews when choosing a new doctor.* Online reviews are basically the first impression the patient has of the practice, and unfortunately, sometimes there are bad reviews. Although bad reviews can be harmful to a clinic, it also provides them an opportunity to engage with patients and rectify the complaint. Publicly replying to bad reviews is actually strategic for clinics, as about 70% of people feel that it’s important for providers to respond.*
Social media provides marketing and promotional opportunities for healthcare facilities at a lesser cost compared to other marketing platforms. Not only can healthcare facilities easily promote themselves in a cost-effective way, they can also affordably share health information, campaign for causes, and publicize office information like new hires, office achievements, company events, renovations to a facility, and new services.
Social media is an effective tool that physicians can utilize to expand their practice and reach out to other healthcare facilities. This can be especially important if a doctor in a rural area requires assistance from a specialist, because this doctor can use their online medical network to reach out to others beyond geographical borders and expand their knowledge. Similarly, doctors can post updates on their research to collaborate and connect with others to share findings and experiences, all for the sake of continued learning and bettering patient care.
Connecting with others on social media is not only educationally beneficial, but it’s also promotionally beneficial. Posting on social media increases search engine optimization (SEO) content, which helps to increase traffic to the clinic’s social media and website, potentially brings in new patients, and can augment revenue.
Engaging the Population
Some health topics can be hard to talk about, especially for teens and young adults. Prejudices about certain issues like STIs and mental illnesses have created stigmas that make some people hesitant to ask for support or get the help they need. Social media provides healthcare organizations an opportunity to post about these topics, which helps to end the stigmas, raise awareness, and encourage people to seek help.
Social Support and Connections
Social media’s ability to connect people around the world is especially beneficial for people who feel isolated due to their health challenges. If someone has a health issue with which their peers can’t relate, then they can use social media to connect with others who share similar health challenges. Having a community of people with whom one can relate provides comfort, emotional support, and greater understanding of the condition.
Social media also provides a worldwide support network for donations, fundraising, and sharing inspirational stories. Online campaigns and trending hashtags can be huge successes in spreading awareness and raising money for certain health topics, such as a national cause like Breast Cancer Awareness Month or personal causes like needed organ donations.
Social media is vital when it comes to crisis situations where immediate information can literally save lives. Organizations are able to post about how to stay safe during natural disasters, where to receive care, and post live-updates about crisis situations, such as shootings or disease outbreaks. When time is of utmost importance, the ability to instantly share essential information to billions of people makes social media an extremely effective tool during critical times.
Health Monitoring and Countering Misinformation
Hashtags are a great way to help healthcare professionals stay updated on what’s trending, meaning that it helps them see if certain conditions are arising, spreading, and sense the severity of the outbreak. Healthcare professionals can then in-turn post instant updates to the population on the condition’s activity, provide tips on prevention and treatment options, and fight against the spread of misinformation.
The way in which the world communicates is unlike ever before; people can instantaneously share information and connect with others a world away, all through the click of a button. The healthcare industry is no different, as organizations can use social media to spread information, discuss healthcare topics, raise awareness, communicate with other healthcare agencies, provide real-time updates, cost-effectively promote services, and engage with patients.
It’s easy to see how social media benefits the healthcare industry, and as long as patient-confidentiality guidelines are followed, then it’s a safe, valuable instrument that should be utilized by medical practices to build connections, spread information, increase revenue, and augment patient engagement.