The Social Media Advantage

The use of social media has become a staple in nearly every industry - and medicine is no exception. While many practices are still hesitant to implement an interactive online presence for themselves, they feel compelled to stay relevant amongst existing and potential patients.

Getting started may be somewhat daunting, but if done correctly, joining the realm of social media could be the next best move for a practice!

CONSIDER THE BENEFITS

Outreach. It's one of the biggest advantages of social media. Think about this: A mom will research pediatricians on her browser, text a few trusted friends for recommendations, view the website of her selection, visit the corresponding Facebook page to see other patient feedback. She'll then most likely dip into a few other sources to compare ratings, check her calendar, call the practice to make an appointment, set herself a reminder. After the appointment, she will text the friend who referred her, possibly join the Facebook page, and post her own feedback, on at least one platform.

Now consider. If this scenario is one person on one device, how much impact could a single social media site have for drawing new patients to its doors?

SUCCESSFULLY USING SOCIAL MEDIA

Ready to harness to the potential of a web a presence? Time to develop a plan! Determine a goal in order to form a strategy. Is the goal to draw more patients, or to create an online community for existing ones? What is the practices target demographic?

Designate time, and delegate staff, to handle social media for the practice. Perhaps this requires someone to answer a phone line dedicated to internet-driven inquires.

PRECAUTIONS

HIPPA regulations are absolute priority. Staff should be trained in a thorough understanding of privacy and security protocol, and practice patient confidentiality that extends to online interaction. UNDER NO CIRCUMSTANCE should medical information be disclosed or discussed on an internet platform. The U.S Department of Health & Human Services has created standards and laws that currently govern information and information technology. These relevant policies and standards must be followed when utilizing social media technologies. (For more detailed information on HIPPA regulations, click here.)

PROFESSIONALISM

Social media is a medical professional's calling card, often acting as the first impression for potential clients. In a public forum setting, any practice and its affiliates are to uphold the good name of the practice there at all times. This is where your reputation starts and where patients will return to offer feedback.

When managed well, a practice's image will only benefit from its participation in social media!


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