For some physicians, it might seem daunting to wade into the social media waters. They may be worried about opening their practice up to legal risk or possibly blemishing their reputation. If you’re one of those wary physicians, we’re here to ease your mind and give you some social media guidance.
As long as it’s used correctly, social media can be an extremely valuable tool that helps you connect with patients outside of the exam room – which, in turn, can lead to stable relationships, more referrals and potentially increased profit. So, to help you make better use of social networks and confidently engage with your patients, here are some of our recommended best practices:
Connecting with patients goes beyond just setting up your social networks and posting here and there. It involves:
- Developing goals
- Deciding how often you’ll post
- Finding the best social media platforms to portray your practice to the intended audience
- Figuring out who that audience is
It’s important to set up a plan and identify the “ideal” patient you’re trying to speak to. That way you can tailor your messages accordingly and keep messages consistent.
Provide value to your followers
As tempting as it might be for practices to continuously fill social media feeds with their own #hashtags and self promotions, this can be off-putting to their followers. Instead, try posting items like compelling infographics and thoughtful quotes that gives your patients and followers something to learn or reflect on.
Communicate during times of crisis
While most people consider social media to be more of a recreational method of communication, it has become one of the healthcare industry’s most reliable resources for providing up-to-the-minute news during times of crisis.
By utilizing social media outlets like Facebook and Twitter, your practice can publicly convey information on global medical emergencies such as disease outbreaks and food product recalls.
Engage with your followers
One of the best ways for your practice to utilize social media is to be social. Take any and every opportunity to respond to patients’ feedback – if it’s positive and especially if it’s negative. These 10 tips for handling negative patient reviews are a good guideline for how to respond to a patient and attempt to recover their experience. [link to negative reviews Repzilla blog]
It’s also important to follow back accounts and interact with them so they can see that you’re listening to their concerns and sincerely care about improving their experience.
Stay HIPAA compliant
The Healthcare Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) was put in place to protect patient’s private health information. So, while you’re interacting with your followers, it’s crucial for your practice to avoid HIPAA violations.
Make sure to avoid posting patient information or situational details. Even if you don’t include a patient name, assume that patients’ information can still be traced if you post about the circumstances. So, either keep responses generic or contact patients privately if they’re wanting to discuss their personal medical issues.
Additionally, it’s important to have someone in charge who understands HIPAA and to create a social media policy for your practice. Once something is online, chances are it will stay online in one form or another, so be sure to avoid HIPAA violations before they ever make it online.
Patient experience doesn’t occur solely at your office. It begins and continues through online engagement – and social media is a major component in that. So, if you haven’t been fully utilizing your social networks, now is the time to get going.
Still feeling hesitant to dive into social media? Repzilla is here to help. Explore [link to features page] all of the ways we can assist with your social networks, so you can make meaningful online connections with your patients.