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Social Media for Medical and Health Care Sales and Marketing? You Betcha!

Social media marketing is ethical, valuable and essential for physician growth in credibility, leadership and attracting patients

By CARY M. SILVERMAN, M.D.

Ironically, even with the increased privacy laws and regulations surrounding patient care and protections – the ability for doctors and health care practitioners to communicate their services, techniques and initiatives via the Web continues to flourish. Social media has provided a way for medical practices to weed through an overwhelming amount of digital information and find/share the important pieces with each other and patients. From the dedicated medical social media sites such as Sermo, MedicalMingle, Healtheva and Ozmosis which allow for the exchange of information and opinions from medical experts, to the consumer sites such as Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and YouTube, it’s easy to share this information with patients, employees, organizations, groups, etc. Bottom line: social media marketing is ethical, valuable and essential for physician growth in credibility, leadership and attracting patients.

Marketing your medical practice with social media is all about people helping people. That has huge implications for those of us in medical fields. Social media allows medical practices to serve as a trusted resource for users (not just patients). By posting breaking news or tips and information, inviting employees and patients to national and local events, sharing exciting or informative photos and videos, etc., we have the ability to serve and connect more directly with employees, patients and influencers in the medical world.

Social Media has allowed our practice to have instant interaction with patients. By insuring that legal boundaries remain intact, practices should establish and maintain a Facebook page and Twitter account. These serve as direct lines of communication between doctors and patients. Patients and family members can ask questions (that other fans or followers may also need answered), share their own experiences, or find quick updates posted from our blog to reduce time spent searching online. Social media is a true resource for medical patients – not just in terms of expert information, but peer reviews and experiential information that is so much more real for people.

Doctor too busy? Have authorized social media monitors. With the development of a highly detailed and personalized social media policy, it’s in the best interest of a medical practice to allow multiple employees to have access to social media channels in helping to monitor and post updates. Hiring a third-party social media consultant or firm to manage the multiple channels with their knowledge of social trends and interactive tactics is also helpful after they are trained to completely understand your medical field.

How to tell if your social media marketing is working.

Success can’t be measured solely by numbers. Although it is important to take into consideration feedback ratios, new likes and followers, video and photo views, and so on – your focus should be on retaining quality fans and followers by meeting their needs for engagement and information.

Since many of the industry-niche social media sites are known to only a few – use your Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn groups to share value with others. Tweeting, posting, and updating your social media marketing efforts steadily educates followers with techniques for managing various medical situations that will cut down on patient wait-time.

Similarly, social media allows constant connectedness with potential employees and, thereby, rapidity in hiring. Above all, the exchange of medical information leads to a more highly recognized medical practice, a more educated population, and more opportunities to discover breakthroughs.

The fastest moving social media medical practices have developed phone applications that help individuals with daily health concerns and directly linking their brands with consumers.


SMM Do’s and Don’ts for Medical & Healthcare

  • DO address all feedback (positive and negative) honestly and professionally.
  • DON’T discuss private patient information at any time or across any medium.
  • DO create a strong internal social media policy and train/educate employees to abide by it.
  • DON’T hamper any social media efforts being made at the office. You can block Facebook on the computers all day long, but employees have smart phones now, and will post as they wish regardless. Plus, they can be your greatest brand ambassadors.
  • DO incorporate contests, giveaways, open-ended questions and opinion-based posts to encourage interaction among your users.
  • DON’T over-post and inundate your users with information. They will eventually block your posts/tweets or unsubscribe/unfollow you.

Cary M. Silverman, M.D., LASIK and cataract eye surgeon, is medical director of EyeCare 20/20 in East Hanover, N.J. He can be reached at csilverman@eyecare2020.com or via Twitter @The LASIKdoc.