How To Use Social Media In The Healthcare Industry

Would you dismiss the value of social media in the healthcare industry? Many do. Depending on the exact company or organisation, there might seem to be so much red tape, policies and restrictions that it’s just not worth the effort to be online. These steps are put in place for very good reason and should 100% be adhered to. That doesn’t mean that there aren’t some big advantages to being on social media platforms like Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest etc.

Social media is about helping, a lot like the healthcare industry. Aside from the huge reach advantage social media brings, there are many ways that social media can be an extension of the patient support that you currently provide.

Here are 3 ways you can start using social media today:

Inform and Educate

There are times when certain healthcare related issues hit the news and cause a lot of hearsay, rumors and panic among people. We’ve seen this in recent years through a number of cases such as Foot in mouth disease, illegal use of horse meat in food and the recent Ebola virus. You can take these incidents and provide the right advice to people, advice they can trust. You are able to provide context, perspective and the correct processes/ preventative measures that people can take when such issues hit the news.

Example: JDRHealthcare Travel Clinic

Providing the facts on Ebola after the virus created panic worldwide.

Tips and Advice

While you can’t diagnose people or provide specific solutions to individuals on social media, you can provide general tips and advice. Health and wellness is important to everyone, you have the opportunity to encourage a healthy well-balanced lifestyle. You can also address specific conditions and share tips on improving the condition, again whilst staying general.

Example: Lindsay Davidson Podiatry

Sharing a tip for those dealing with swollen feet:

Spinach is a great food to add to your diet if you struggle with swollen feet or ankles. pic.twitter.com/uqyYCS49Xt

— Lindsay Davidson (@PerthPodiatry) December 23, 2014

Inspire Positive Health

Staying committed to living a healthy lifestyle can be a challenge for many people. Motivation helps but it doesn’t always last long. That’s where a great social media account comes in. You have the ability to inspire change and create a positive healthy lifestyle around your community. If a user’s news feed is full of junk food and tv shows, that is going to influence their decisions. Just like if their news feed is full of positive messages, fitness and healthy choices, that too can influence them in a more positive way.

Example: Jason Brownlie Personal Trainer

Keeping it simple and real when it comes to your nutrition.

Q & A

When we feel like something is wrong, we’re not always up for visiting a doctor. A lot of the times, we research online only to fall down a rabbit hole of crazy symptoms and diagnoses that can convince us we’re suffering some horrific incident. According to

Pew Internet Survey (

c

2014),

72% of internet users say they looked online for health information within the past year. Holding a Q & A session every week where community members can ask professionals for advice on certain issues or symptoms. Again while you can’t diagnose, you can provide the right contact information and details for patients to get in touch. This way they can be reassured and receive the professional advice they need.

Example: NHS

Answering a popular question relating to nutrition:

How do I know if a food is high in fat, saturated fat, sugar or salt? Information here: http://t.co/REguQSyKfW

— NHS Choices (@NHSChoices) January 7, 2015

If you are in the private sector, providing this sort of information will go along way in encouraging customers to come to you. The value you provide can make a difference to your community before they purchase from you showing the benefits rather than just talking about them. You are also able to leverage your authority and expertise as a healthcare professional. This instills trust which is hugely important when it comes to your clients and patients. The same applies if you are operating in the public sector. Social media provides an extension of your patient care. It shows that you are there to help and encourage your community to live a healthy lifestyle and look after their bodies. That’s not even accounting for the huge PR benefits that social media can provide.

There are huge benefits for the healthcare industry on social media but it’s up to you to take that opportunity and use it for the greater good.

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