Doctors are no strangers to social media. Conservative estimates have it that at least 30 percent of physicians use one or more social media (SM) platform daily. Other estimates say it’s closer to 80 percent. The SM numbers are strong for hospitals, health systems and many group medical practices.
Collectively, these are the progressive providers that recognize the familiar stats that, for most people, the care continuum begins online. They are reaching out to, and connecting with the people, prospective patients, family and caregivers. All of that is on the plus side of the ledger.
But then there’s the troubling social media gap. Providers will frequently use the Internet and SM for professional connections and purposes, but most avoid doctor-to-patient social interaction.
The obstacles to bringing more doctors online–and thus closing this communications gap–are often linked to availability of time (or lack of it), and the ease of using social media, or both. To spotlight the benefits, and to give social media an easier and higher return, here’s a roundup of top-tier tips for doctors:
Ease social media into your schedule. If you’re searching for an easy-entry point, put your professional profile on LinkedIn. You can add to (and easily revise) LinkedIn information. Although it’s relatively quick to translate your CV to your LinkedIn profile, this can be done in one sitting, or several.
You don’t have to be on all social sites. There are a million or so social-style platforms, but only a few are valuable to a carefully considered program. Work diligently with the short-list, important sites.
Your online presence impacts provider selection. Patients look for doctors online and research their reputation and credentials. In addition to an informative website, social media guides patients, with LinkedIn as a cornerstone for information and visibility.
Your smart phone is always within reach. Social media platforms generally assume that the majority of users are viewing, adding and/or subtracting information via a mobile device. Social face, such as Twitter, Facebook and others, engineer the user experience to be easy, fast and “anywhere-anytime.”
If it’s not your SM voice, you’re at the mercy of everyone else. There’s nobody more qualified to represent you online and in social media than you are. Doctors who elect to remain “socially silent” concede their presence to others, such as physician rating sites. (Or worse, you have no voice at all.)
Being social is natural for doctors. Social success thrives on authoritative and sharable information. Think of social media as simply a different means to channel your training and experience for the benefit of people.
And the payoff is…
An active and consistent social media presence is an accessible, open door opportunity to connect with prospective patients. The relative cost is low and the potential audience is large. The benefits include attracting new patients, building and engaging a connected community, enhancing and extending reputation and brand recognition, and improving outcomes.
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