Home > Improving Healthcare, Physician Practices > Physicians Need to Use Social Media in Their Practices

Physicians Need to Use Social Media in Their Practices

Who purchases a product or a service without first checking the vendor’s website and consumer reviews?  Patients do the same with their physicians.

The social media revolution is here to stay.  Not only is there no place to hide, no one in business can afford to hide.  As Eric Qualman puts it, “We don’t have a choice on whether we DO social media, the question is how well we DO it.”

It’s easy to badmouth the use of social media in professional settings, because many see Facebook and Twitter and YouTube as only about posting what restaurant or concert a person is at or the latest video or photo about someone’s new kitten.  However, for physicians, there are good professional reasons to use social media.

Fundamentally, the use of social media is all about better communication with patients and improving their health by giving them tools to take an interest in and more control over their health care decisions. And the use of social media is also very much about business by giving physicians the tools to compete more effectively because they communicate better.  It is about improving a physician’s practice.

Dr. Kevin Pho is a leading practitioner in (and advocate for) the use of social media by physicians. His blog, KevinMD.com, provides great insight in the effective use of social media to educate and inform.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the World Health Organization understand the power of social media to alert many people at once about health care issues.

Incorporating social media into a physician practice is not easy nor does it happen overnight.  There are many legal and practical issues — patient privacy, copyright laws, designating the practice’s social media “leader” and giving that person enough time to communicate, training employees and informing patients, etc.  The AMA has adopted policies relating to the use of social media in professional settings, as has the Federation of State Medical Boards.

Getting a consultant who understand the intricacies of healthcare and social media and the practice’s IT system can be very helpful to having a good social media presence.

And regardless of whether a physician practice decides to use social media, it must monitor social media to see what is being said about it, and it must adopt a social media policy for its employees to make sure that their social media behavior does not harm the practice (but there are issues to be dealt with on what an employer can and cannot do).

People of all ages are using social media for many personal and business reasons.  Moving in the same direction (if not at the same speed) as one’s patients is critical, and waiting is rarely a good option.

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