Technology makes the internet a pervasive tool for ensuring connectivity, and social media is practically a national pastime. Easy to use smartphones and tablets empower today’s individual, people of every age group anywhere, anytime.
Gone are the days when healthcare could only be provided through a practitioner via face-to-face appointments. Physicians and health care practitioners can utilize social media to provide surplus information to other professionals in the industry in the form of research and awareness, as well as to patients who are seeking medical help.
Social media provides a phenomenal opportunity for healthcare organizations to raise awareness about most sought-after health problems like diabetes, cardiac diseases, allergies and geriatric medicine. By broadcasting information that is fact-based and applicable, it offers medical practitioners with tools to share more information, to discuss health care policies, to promote health awareness, to communicate with the public and to connect with patients, caregivers, students, and colleagues.
Physicians and other healthcare providers have been quick to adopt tech-based tools for their personal and professional communications. But until fairly recently, doctors and hospitals have lagged behind retail brands in adopting social resources to tell their story, point to useful solutions or to engage patient-centered audiences.
That said, the healthcare industry—including pharmaceutical and device manufacturers, health systems, hospitals and doctors—are increasingly finding ways to (comfortably) use social media for the benefit of patients, the general public and professional colleagues. Through effective marketing and communication tactics, organizations are able to move away from traditional advertising techniques, and use the internet to connect with consumers in the healthcare field.
General awareness and medical information
People have started using the internet as a means to diagnose themselves and seek help. Most of them have a tendency to seek information via social media that assists in the selection of doctors, specialists and hospitals to make informed decisions on the best practices to seek care. Individuals will use social media to post reviews or other comments that support or possibly discourage others from choosing that type of healthcare in the future.
Extensive reach by the practitioner
Physicians and other healthcare providers are increasingly using social media and the internet to research medical devices, pharmaceutical information, and biotech data. Just like professionals in other fields, doctors can use social media as a tool to reach out to other specialists. They can explore the social media pages of pharmaceutical companies and device manufacturers. They can even follow the blogs of other practitioners to learn more about their experiences. A local doctor in a remote rural area may come across a patient with an unusual set of symptoms and may require the opinion of a specialist as soon as possible.
The whole idea of social media is to connect with people. Patients can rely on social media in difficult times and can access information related to their health problems and learn about other patient experiences. In short, social media can also serve as an effective means for availing mental support during an illness. Consumers heavily rely on information found online and use the internet to gather healthcare information and connect with other patients to garner support and learn about similar conditions.
Social media can also be employed as a research tool in the area of public health. With so much publicly available information about various diseases and other public health concerns, there is huge potential to use social media as a data mining source.
Healthcare services provided via social media are free of cost, as they do not require pre-appointments with doctors and therefore the requirement of visiting fees are non-existent. It not only ensures that healthcare is just a click away, but also pocket-friendly.
Caution in using social media
While social media can be an on demand source of information, there are also concerns. For example, is the information up to date and accurate? This is alarming, as a study showed that of 20 of the most shared Facebook posts referencing cancer, more than half contained information that had been refuted by healthcare professionals.
While there are concerns about privacy and the spread of untruthful information, social media can be used by those in all areas of the healthcare industry for a versatile purposes. It is a tool for marketing, education, and providing needed services to various communities.
Contact us to learn how we are helping healthcare providers increase patient footfall and communicate essential health messages. To know more about how social media is changing is the healthcare landscape, follow us on facebook, twitter and instagram.