The Internet has driven a revolution in the way business processes take place, healthcare being no exception. There is an increasing awareness about health and healthy lifestyles through public education and awareness initiatives by organizations like National Institutes of Health, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, American Diabetes Association and many more. They work at creating and inculcating lifestyle changes for people to lead healthier and happier lives. Digitally empowered people are becoming conscious about their health choices and have started referring to the Internet like never before for their health decisions. In fact, research studies have validated that patients research various social media platforms and patient-review websites before making a decision to select their physician.
Digital channels such as the Internet and social media (Facebook, Twitter, blogs, LinkedIn, physician-review websites) have come to the forefront as influencers on patient decision-making. There is a drastic change in how customers maneuver health goals and make decisions related to health.
For physicians, the most challenging part of this journey is endless information available on the web, potential approaches through which patients make their decisions about visiting a doctor and perceptions that are created about their practice through the new word-of-mouth, i.e. patient reviews.
It is evident that healthcare social networks are new choices for patients as well as physicians. To provide a forum for patient engagement, a well-established social media presence has now become a must for practicing physicians. “Find a need and fill it,” is one of the most acknowledged rules for marketing. For healthcare services, a patient’s need is for information related to healthcare that should be reliable, up-to-date and comprehensible. Physicians are, therefore, in a prime position to drive better health outcomes through social media and position their practice as a brand to health consumers.
Take the first step to protect your online reputation and request your Online Reputation Assessment.
Social media is a good opportunity for physicians to understand the needs of their patients/future patients. Patient-review websites have made it very easy for patients to post reviews about their experiences with physicians. Patients who communicate through these forums want to be taken seriously. One of the key areas of patient dissatisfaction is a lack of any sort of acknowledgement when they share an experience or their needs with a physician. Here social media comes to the rescue as it provides a forum to physicians for patient engagement and resolution of issues. It also allows for crowd-sourcing ideas and feedback from services delivered to patients for formulation of new approaches or changes within the practice. Regularly posting medical information of interest or informative articles for prevention/management of diseases or conditions solves a dual purpose of maintaining a strong online presence and developing trust among people who read and benefit from it. This useful information may also be shared among online groups or communities that give your brand an additional marketing edge. You never know when there may be some potential patients who may consider booking an appointment at your practice after going through what you have written and what people are saying about you.
The health community is on a digital journey to deliver an impact that is too big to be ignored. Physicians who leverage digital power will definitely be a preferred choice with digital health consumers. This platform enables a smoother and faster connection that can be channeled by physicians to provide the strongest reassurance for patients. So they can build brand equity and position their brand as a partner in patients’ health in their lifelong journey to health and wellness. The marketing power of social media is growing exponentially, and it no longer makes sense for physicians to treat it as an experiment.