Physicians Should Use Social Media – Here’s Why

physicians should use social media

With nearly two thirds of the adult U.S. population (65 percent) now using some form of social media, healthcare professionals can’t afford to ignore it. Many physicians shy away from it due to HIPAA laws and strict regulations, but this shouldn’t hold you back from promoting yourself and your business.

In a crowded field that’s often criticized for lack of personal connections, sharing a piece of yourself with the digital world can improve yourself and your business exponentially. 

Why Physicians Should Use Social Media

  1. Become an Influencer – Social media is an ideal space to establish thought leadership and expert knowledge. It provides a platform with which to share your thoughts and opinions.
  2. Build Your Brand – Building up your personal brand, and that of your practice, requires an online presence, and is an important part of your marketing strategy. Most employers, and more often even patients, will use the Internet to vet doctors. They look at patient reviews, published papers, and social media profiles. Without them you’re missing out on an opportunity to stand out among the crowd.
  3. Stay On Top of Healthcare News – Between data breaches, government policies, and the latest procedures healthcare is constantly in the headlines. Social media keeps you up-to-date on the latest news, trends, and policy changes.
  4. Networking with Other Physicians – Social media allows for valuable information sharing that you used to only get through papers and conferences. There are many great discussions among physicians on issues of patient care, techniques, and the future of healthcare. By joining in on these conversations, you are benefiting your patients, your practice, and your career.
  5. Create Stronger Relationships With Patients – Although a slightly more controversial topic, social media is also a great way to connect with patients. Although you should never give specific advice to patients, you can set up support groups for patients with specific ailments, or provide resources to family members caring for loved ones. You can also provide general health and well being tips so patients can take an active responsibility in their own care at home.

Physicians, nurses, and hospitals are also one of the most trusted sources online. Fifty five to 60 percent of people trust physicians’ posts on social media, compared to trusting only 30 to 40 percent of posts from health insurance companies or government organizations.

However, social media use shouldn’t be taken lightly. Whether furthering your personal career, or leading your office in their efforts it’s important to consider your patients’ privacy. The U.S. Department of Health in Human Services offers this worksheet for offices considering launching a social media campaign.

HIPAA Laws You Should Know

Many physicians site HIPAA laws as a reason they avoid social media. But you can have a successful social media presence while still maintaining HIPAA compliance. Remember the following when crafting your social media strategy.

  • Write a social media policy and revisit it annually to ensure compliance updates.
  • Make sure you eliminate all identifiers including names, location, any kind of dates, etc.
  • Consider the “elevator” rule. If you wouldn’t discuss it on an elevator, don’t post about it on social media.
  • Thing about separating your personal social profiles and your professional ones.
  • Always remember to get detailed written consent from patients before sharing anything about them, including pictures, online.

You should also routinely revisit your strategy to ensure your maintaining the proper security and privacy requirements.

Getting Started

Social media allows you to create better relationships with patients, professionals, and employers. There’s no question that physicians should use social media. Find which platforms they are, and get started.

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