What Do Patients Think of Healthcare Social Media?

The movement is sweeping hospitals and medical practices by the thousands. Patients are now able to find their healthcare providers on sites like Twitter, Facebook and YouTube. But are those social media presences improving patients’ perceptions? We talked to two different patients with much different answers to the question.

Nicole is a new mom who has connected with her pediatrician on Facebook. “When Tyler fell and hit his head for the first time, I called the doctor in a panic. His nurse listened to what happened, then told me what symptoms indicated serious trauma. She also told me I could get more information from this great article the practice had posted on Facebook the week before on this exact topic. I was really impressed with the information and have been enjoying their posts ever since.”

Nicole likes the fact that their page linked to external health libraries and videos. She also enjoys the monthly cute photo contests they run. Many practices like Nicole’s are finding new, amazing ways to capitalize on the connections they are able to make with their patients outside of the office; others are making their brands look bad by creating lackluster social media presences. Take Jill’s primary care doctor, for example.

Jill is a 48-year old who was intrigued to see a sign in her doctor’s office urging patients to them on Facebook and YouTube. She did… and that’s when her perception of the practice started to sour. “Their YouTube channel only had two videos on it, and they were both over a year old. One was an introduction to the practice (which I found useless) and the other had such low sound, I couldn’t tell what they were saying,” complains Jill. “Their Facebook page was just as bad. Their posts were blatant advertisements, so I un-liked them.”

The difference between the successful social media presence and the unsuccessful are consistent contribution (not letting content get stale), social contribution (having two-way conversations) and linking valuable information that patients can actually use.

Make sure you can make these commitments before launching a social media presence. You need to be prepared to deliver what patients are looking for. If they find your page disappointing, they’ll never visit it again or recommend it to friends. Potential patients will be turned off from trying your practice. So treat it like another branch of your business, because it has the potential to reach a wide audience and make a big impact.

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