How to Use Social Media For Doctors

Written by on January 31, 2014 in Insight - No comments

10 Lessons For Medical Practice Success

Despite the encouragement of open communication between patients and their physicians, establishment of patient portals and studies showing a great desire of patients to seek open communication with their doctors, misconceptions about social media and the Internet abound.

Use of social media n the medical community smacks of fear.  You feel it and hear that in hospitals and medical meetings.  Maybe even you feel hesitant to participate in social media.

That would be a BIG mistake!

Social media has changed the way we live and do business.

Lesson #1

Facebook has more than 1 billion users. More than 300,000 businesses are on Facebook.  The thing is, research studies show that 79% of adults in the U.S. use social media.

The lesson?  It’s time for you to have a Facebook page for your practice and your patients.

Lesson #2

Social media does have a purpose. It’s to:

  • Educate your viewers and fans
  • Engage your readers and patients
  • Clear up any misunderstandings
  • Let patients know about new techniques and solutions

The material you post is for your reader, not for you.  That’s why it’s called YOUTube and not I-tube.

Lesson #3

Have a strategy instead of posting haphazardly.  Posts should have a call-to-action (telling the readers what you would like them to do like clicking a button, or entering their email address to receive a free report)

Posts should have fresh content.  Old, stale content gives no reason for the reader to return and it also reflects on how current you may be in other areas of your business/practice.

Lesson #4

Calmly sit down and list 7-10 keywords that describe you and your practice.  Hint- what would someone type into the box when they are doing a Google search to find you?

Now, publish articles, blog posts and talk in forums/chat rooms about topics that include and stress those keywords.  When someone hears the words or phrases, they should immediately associate them with you.

Social media is most effective when combining it with other marketing plans like lectures, webinars, blogging and networking.

Lesson #5

Think of the questions that your patients ask. You hear many of these same questions throughout your day while consulting and examining patients.  Make up a FAQ (frequently asked question) sheet with answers for people to request (thereby giving you their email address)

Write a blog post of 400 words three times a week that each covers one question and answer in greater depth.

But keep your blog friendly, not clinical.  Let your personality shine through.

Lesson #6

Install a plug in on your blog post.  Each time you publish a post, it will automatically appear on numerous sites simultaneously, cutting work time down considerably.

(Google +, twitter, LinkedIn, Facebook)

Have share buttons so that those enjoying your post can forward it to their friends and family, thereby giving you more exposure.

Lesson #7

Implement an analytic tool that will allow you to see when and where your readers come to spend time on your site.  You will also see by the time on the page whether or not the topic was of interest to your viewers so that you can frequent that topic again. Google Analytics is quite user friendly and has many good features.

Lesson #8

Share a story to illustrate a point and use descriptive words for your readers to imagine.  (* don’t use a story about a real patient!)  People relate to stories and remember them far longer than any advice you impart.

Lesson #9

Be mindful of HIPAA and have a policy in your office that reflects it.

It is illegal to release patient information without express consent of that patient…but there is no need to!  You can impart information without answering questions about a specific patient.  If someone feels that they need to get personal, have them make an appointment.

Have a waiver on your site that states:

  • Privacy and security is secured
  • The site is not monitored 24 hours a day and so if it is an emergency, they need to go to the ER or contact you directly.
  • Post clearly that the advice on the site is for educational and informational purposes only and not a treatment for a specific patient
  • No personal photographs are to be posted
Lesson #10

Communication is what it’s all about.  If people share of themselves, they do not want to be ignored.  They want the ability to engage with you as well as others on the site.

If posting and engagement is too time-consuming for you, outsource it to someone that will perform this function.

It will be well worth it for you!

By Barbara Hales, M.D.

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