Social media: Chances and dangers
Healthcare providers have many tools available to them through social media. If you know how to use social media to its full potential, it can be a powerful tool. If social media is misused or misapplied it can become a time sink that takes away from your ability to grow your business. It is easy to misunderstand social media. This guide will help you clarify some areas.
It is confusing because social media terms, such as “networking”, are used in a way that many people assume they understand. However, the meaning of these terms can be very different within the world of social media.
Meetings and Social Media
The internet has revolutionized the way people communicate with each other and is relevant to their needs. The way businesses do business has also changed. For the best deals on products or services, the public consults their phones. Their phones are used to shop for items. Healthcare is also affected by the changes in how business is conducted.
Social media offers many tools for healthcare professionals to help build their business. The nature of business building has changed with the advent of social media (interactive). Social networking sites allow potential clients to interact with one another. The relationship between a potential client and a healthcare provider was traditionally one-way. Patients today communicate with you via social media, such as email and twitter. They want to ask questions and you to respond. They will recommend you to others if they receive good service. If they don’t, their reputation can suffer much quicker.
Marketing used to be limited to ads promoting the services and providing contact information. A healthcare professional may be able to network as a way of growing their business if they have social skills. In the past, networking meant joining local business promotion clubs in the community. A Chamber of Commerce is a group that consists of healthcare professionals. They also belong to the local professional groups of their specialty, such as the rotary club or the lions club. Toastmasters are a more adventurous group.
Social media has made it easier to join groups for healthcare professionals. There are some groups that were used in the past, but they can still be used. Social media offers more options. Sermo.com is a social media site that only doctors can use, and it’s one of many physician-only sites.
Professional groups such as the American Psychological Association and American Association of Marriage and Family Therapy are now well-known for their online presence. This gives the opportunity for professional groups from the past to find a new venue online.
There are also groups on social media sites. LinkedIn, like Facebook, has many professional groups. These groups are organized by specialty. There are many groups that offer support for healthcare professionals, oncology and depression. These groups offer forums for healthcare providers to discuss concerns. A recent discussion on Sexual Addictions was held on LinkedIn. Healthcare professionals discussed the topic from many perspectives. These groups allow healthcare professionals to share their knowledge and stay connected with each other. This is an innovative application of traditional social networking. You can now do the same networking as you did at annual or monthly meetings on a daily basis. Healthcare professionals still need to have meaningful relationships and meetings in order to grow their business.
New Networking and New Challenges
Social media is changing how the term “networking” is used. Social media has given healthcare professionals a new perspective when it comes to dealing with interactive media. In the past, building a practice required using static media. Social media allows for a more interactive relationship between healthcare provider and client. The healthcare provider can no longer tell the public they are the expert, and the patient must accept this. The public is now looking for evidence of your empathy, expertise, and caring. You could have been a ‘healthcare professional’ in the past. Social media has made it easy for people to find out more about Jack the therapist or Dr. Jane.
Healthcare professionals have a new way to interact with clients and the application of “networking”. Healthcare providers are no longer the only one who can answer questions or interact with clients. Potential clients and the healthcare provider now share control. Potential clients can now ask questions and engage with social media in ways that were not possible ten years ago. Social media empowers potential clients. They know more now than ever and are more interested in what the future holds.
Today’s patients are more likely to self-diagnose using social media than seeing a healthcare professional. One study found that 81% of respondents expected to find medical help online. This indicates that people are turning to the internet and social media for healthcare information, including self-diagnosis. A recent study found that 47% of people seeking medical information made self-diagnoses. It is now so common that people often refer to Dr. Google for medical information. This information presents a major challenge because the public doesn’t always verify the information.
The internet is not only helping the public find help but they healthcare logistics companies also aid in diagnosing their own problems with the information that they have. Dr. Bryan Varabedian stated that information is now the third party in an exam room. Dr. Varabedian has a blog that discusses the convergence of medicine and social media. As healthcare providers build their businesses, they must deal with patients who have access to more information. Some of this information is reliable and some is not. Patients who have the right information, but use it in an unconventional way, is another challenge.
Some healthcare professionals view the idea of patients self-diagnosing their problems or issues as dangerous. Texas doctors sued a group of podiatrists, chiropractors, and family therapists for diagnosing clients. This is a far cry than Pennsylvania where all 277 of the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center’s (UPMC) sent e-mails offering digital housecalls. Some patients can receive a diagnosis in this state without ever seeing a doctor or any other healthcare professional. It is still unknown how healthcare professionals will react to patients diagnosing themselves. Patients today are more tech-savvy than ever and can present more information and ask better questions. Healthcare professionals must be ready to face the challenge of patients being informed about their healthcare decisions. Patients today are not going to follow your healthcare decisions based solely on what you say. They might also look up information on the internet and compare it to yours. Healthcare professionals must be able to give accurate information and keep up with the latest developments in their field.
Patients’ input in healthcare decisions can make a huge difference in quality. Patients are making informed decisions and speaking out through social media. Patients have a voice and healthcare providers will be seen as experts if they listen to them and respond. Healthcare providers will need to be more responsive to patients if they wish to see their business thrive.
Potential patients want to learn more about their healthcare providers. Patients are often restricted in who they can see. However, patients often have questions and would like to talk to their provider. Patients can “get to know their healthcare provider” through social media. Social media will help providers communicate with patients better than their competitors. These providers will need to create written policies for using social media with patients. Healthcare providers who use social media to communicate with patients will need to be clear about the boundaries they set between them and their clients. This will include defining what information they will share and how accessible they are.
The public now uses social media to search for help on Facebook and Google before going to the yellow pages. Healthcare providers without a social media presence are likely to be overlooked. Potential patients who are looking for healthcare will not consider them.
Social Media and its Importance
Social networks are being used by millions. Healthcare providers who do not participate in it, such as those who practice’social media abstinence, are missing out on the changes that are occurring in how people interact. Avoiding social media sites is a dangerous choice for healthcare professionals. They are used extensively by the public. It is now a reality, whether they are using their phones or computers, or both. Social media has revolutionized the way people interact with each other in the marketplace.