How is social media helping to inform patient choice?

By Ollie

Social media is fundamentally changing the PR and marketing industry, and the healthcare sector is no exception. From Facebook and Twitter pages to blogs, YouTube videos and Snapchats, these channels give healthcare organisations the opportunity to influence patients in their pursuit of healthcare. There’s even a social network dedicated to health that allows patients to seek support and advice from hundreds of health-based communities. Healthcare has got social. 

With easy access to vast amounts of healthcare information, the patient-doctor dynamic is changing and patients are now much more informed about conditions and treatment options. With hashtags categorising conversations within social media, be it #Diabetes or #BreastCancer, patients can discuss specific conditions, in real time, accessing information from other patients and any engaged clinicians. The information patients find does have a significant impact: a survey by Adweek found that for more than 40% of consumers’ information found via social media affects the way they deal with their health.

Listen to what patients are saying

Social media allows clinician and practices the opportunity to ‘listen in’ on these conversations and many of these online communities will provide the perfect targets for information from private practices. What’s more, group members will also be more likely to take recommendations from other group members and online friends, particularly younger people. In one recent survey by Search Engine Watch, 90% of respondents from 18 to 24 years of age said they would trust medical information shared by others on their social media networks. If someone in a group or forum says good things about a private practice, other potential patients may hear about it and follow up on the recommendation.

Healthcare information on the internet can be inaccurate, so by engaging with thoughtful and intelligent content, clinicians can establish themselves as experts on certain topics. When searching for a private practice, potential patients are much more likely to choose one they see as a specialist, unless of course, you decide to post videos of your surgery all over snapchat.

Build brand loyalty

Social media also offers a great opportunity to develop the ‘brand’ of a private practice. Sharing success stories and news can help to engage patients and encourage loyalty. Private practices can use social media channels to gauge how satisfied patients are and any complaints can be addressed immediately. Even though specific details should be kept private, practices can respond in public with an apology and remedy so that others can see action is being taken.

For more information on good social media practice for your clinic, see our healthcare social media services.