Modern technology continues to permeate the health care world. Now, physicians are beginning to appreciate the power of social media.
Michelle McNickle of Healthcare IT News attended the Connecting Healthcare + Social Media Conference, produced by NYC Health Business Leaders, in New York in May. In her May 21, 2012, blog post, McNickle shared six reasons why physicians and health care should be on social media, which were presented by Dr. Mike Sevilla.
- Reason #1: Storytelling. Sevilla believes that physicians need to have a social media and/or blog presence to share their opinions and observations directly with prospective patients. It’s about “having a voice” and dispelling myths about family medicine, he said.
- Reason #2: Community. Physicians have online communities just like professionals in other industries. Sevilla recommends joining one or two and sharing ideas and information.
- Reason #3: Expression. Reason three is a close cousin to reason #1. A personal blog allows a physician to express his opinions about things. It’s probably not a good idea to blog about patients. Even if a patient isn’t mentioned by name, if he reads about his own situation in his physician’s blog, the physician could find himself sitting as the defendant in a law suit. There’s a lot going on the health care world that affects most physicians. It’s better to blog about those types of things. For example, electronic health records are becoming an integral part of the medical sector. A physician could blog about that. She could blog about dietary supplements and their effectiveness.
- Reason #4: Discovery. Sharing via blog posts or social media can help a physician discover what he’s passionate about, according to Sevilla. It doesn’t necessarily have to be a health care related passion. A physician could discover that she’s passionate about cooking, dancing or gardening and share this passion in her blog along with her health care focused posts.
- Reason #5: Marketing. Social media marketing works for physicians, too. Private practice physicians can connect with prospective patients via Twitter, Facebook and blog posts.
- Reason #6: Reputation. Online reputation management is especially important for physicians. Sharing their opinions and ideas via social media can help them establish themselves as knowledgeable and capable in their areas of focus. Providing readers with free helpful health tips engenders trust.
Although physicians and health care providers must be careful not to violate HIPAA or other health care regulations that protect patients’ privacy, social media are powerful tools that can be as useful for physicians and health care providers as they are for general small business.
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