Social Media and Doctors
The role of social media in healthcare is constantly evolving thanks to the exponential invasion of the internet and the rapid growth of technology. Nowadays, nearly ninety percent of the doctors use social media for multiple reasons including making personal interactions with patients and healthcare staff, doing clinical research and building professional networks.
Some of the popular forms of social media used in healthcare are Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Blogger, Google Plus, YouTube and Wikipedia. These are used for a variety of purposes including
- Professional Networking
- Patient and Community Education
- Patient Support Groups
- Countering Misinformation
- Public Healthcare Engagements
- Emergency and Crisis Communication
- Monitoring Population Health
- Brand Building, Advertising and Promotion of Healthcare Organizations like hospitals and pharmaceutical companies
- Patient Care through Telemedicine
- Professional Training
- Health Awareness Programs and Campaigns
- Staff Recruitment
- Marketing and Reputation Management
Healthcare digital marketing promotes the usage of social networks amongst both healthcare practitioners and patients to create a positive impact on the overall quality of care services. The choice of choosing healthcare providers is influenced by social media. Many patients also rely on the information, comments and feedback provided here to select their physicians and hospitals. Therefore hospital social media assumes a critical role in building and sustaining the public image of the hospital and its staff.
Let us now look at how the usage of social media can be advantageous to doctors.
Social Media Advantages for Doctors
- Permit doctors to communicate with their patients on a personal basis and augment medical care
- Aids in answering health-based queries
- Help in raising the awareness for patients, families and their caretakers about various diseases, epidemics and medical campaigns
- Allows engagement in healthcare policy discussions
- Facilitates the growth of professional connections
- Encourages self-learning by allowing physicians to read healthcare articles, listen to experts, research clinical developments and consult their counterparts regarding patient issues
- Enables seamless access to patient information and healthcare services
- Reduces social stigma and misconceptions about certain ailments and health conditions
- Boosts self-improvement by encouraging skill updation and involvement through healthy competition
- Assists in sharing tips and statistics about health, self-care and nutrition with the patient base
- Improves the public image as patients and families express their opinions about the physician consultation and treatment outcomes
- Provides a platform for sharing patient case history and treatment routes, discussing clinical challenges, making referrals, engaging in healthcare advocacy and publicizing the best care practices
Tips for Doctors on Using Social Media
- Doctors must use social media to educate their readers on healthcare issues and share only reliable, credible information and valuable content.
- It is important to use social listening effectively to address negative comments from the patient community. This form of listening also helps doctors to track relevant conversations in the medical field.
- Social media can assist doctors in understanding how patients feel about them. It also furnishes new ideas in developing and implementing new communication strategies for building their public image.
- There are several strict rules and regulations in healthcare to ensure patient safety and confidentiality of information. Doctors must adhere to this firmly without violating the laws. They must also exercise sufficient care not to publish sensitive posts on media as it increases compliance risks.
- All social posts must be thoroughly screened by the concerned policies before the doctors publish them. They must also ensure that they maintain internet security by ensuring that their messages reach only the authorized audience who have secure access.
Thus Social Media can act both as a boon and bane for doctors. Hence, they must use it with discretion and wisdom with the ultimate goal of benefitting the patients and community at large without infringing the healthcare regulations.