Congratulations on becoming savvy online as a doctor  or healthcare provider.  Are you putting this to use by becoming active in social media?

Regardless of your age, the typical social media user is 25-44 years old, according to many surveys.  The largest growth on Facebook is the 55+ age female.  If either of these sets describes your patient population, social media is a great way to engage your patients, communicate with them and to attract others in becoming your prospective patients.

Think about it.  What better way to let patients know of a medical breakthrough, new procedure that you are doing or changes in your office on a wider scale without having to mail letters to everyone in your office, hoping that they will receive it!  And how would this news reach patients that aren’t on your patient list?  Answer….Social Media!

While there are several social media platforms, some lend themselves better to your type of practice and where your patients can be found.

Tips to Effective Use of Social Media

1. Formulate an action plan for your social media health site

Consider what goals you have for  your online communication.

Benefits include:

  • Updating office hours or new staff members
  • Highlighting articles or books you have published
  • Providing preoperative and postoperative instructions
  • Describing new procedures or medical devices
  • Explaining various medical conditions in greater detail that you commonly treat

Remember that this site is for educational purposes, not to directly inform any specific patient about his/her treatment.  Keep it educational.

2. Choose the platform that is right for you

The most valuable real estate on the social media site is your profile.  Fill it out completely with information that not only reflects you but makes you proud.  Others DO view this page  before considering whether or not to use your services.

Consider having a Facebook page that reflects your office (making sure that it does not include any family or personal contacts).  Here you can highlight your practice logo, photos of staff members as well as images of your office, directions to your office and contact information.

The three most actively used sites are Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest so consider using one of these social media sites to start. Forums, and fan bases are regularly active and will garner you many views.

3. Be aware of the HIPAA regulations in your state.

HIPAA regulations differ from one state to another so make sure that you are not violating any state or federal regulations when it comes to patient privacy protection.  Any advice that you post should be general and not specific to any one patient.  Any illustrations that you provide or explanations should not be such that a patient can identify with it as being his/her story alone.

An effective technique to protect yourself is to have a statement on your social health site stating that the information is for educational purposes only and if an individual wants specific information to use, then the individual seeking specific advice should make an appointment at the office directly.

4. Have a social media calendar

Perhaps each day can be devoted to specific genres:

  • Disease of the week
  • FAQs
  • Medical News of the week

Your posts don’t have to be every day.  They do, however, need to be consistent.  When your fans come to your site looking for posts that you would normally provide on a given day, they want to see it or they won’t come back; instead they will seek information from a competing site.

Don’t forget to reply to questions or posts on your site.  (questions can be posed by you as well as your visitors).  Comments ensure that it is by you and  encourages interaction with your viewers.

Let your patients know that you have these sites so they can reach out and connect with you there.

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