Healthcare News & Insights

It’s time for healthcare providers to spruce up their social media presence

A big chunk of consumers now follow healthcare providers on social networks. And the number is only going to increase, a recent survey shows. 

Organizations in all industries have begun using social media to connect with customers and potential clients. And people are doing the same thing with companies and subscribing to their favorite organizations’ social media feeds — and that includes healthcare providers, according to a recent survey conducted by advertising firm Russell Herder.

Among the 1,000 US adults polled, 11% said they follow a hospital, clinic or other provider on a social network. However, younger consumers are much more likely to get health information from social media, with 21% of respondents age 18-24 reporting that they follow a provider.

That means the number of people using social media for health information will only increase. And those people are using the information they find on those sites to influence their decisions, according to a survey conducted earlier this year this by the Health Research Institute at PwC.

Among the 1,000 individuals surveyed:

  1. One-third use sites such as Facebook, Twitter and YouTube to seek medical information, track and share symptoms , and share their opinions about doctors and treatments
  2. 42% have used social media to find reviews of doctors and treatments, and
  3. 29% have sought information about other patients’ experiences with a condition.

And patients report their social media activity will have an impact on their decisions:

  1. 45% of patients say their online research would affect their decision to get a second opinion
  2. 41% said it would affect their choice of doctor
  3. 34% said it would affect their decision to take a certain medication, and
  4. 32% said it would affect their choice of health insurance plan.

What it means for providers: Social networks can be a valuable tool for connecting with current patients and attracting new ones. Here are some keys healthcare organizations can use to develop an effective social media strategy:

1. Create a social media presence that allows for discussion — Most people will post positive comments about the provider, which will help boost appeal for potential patients.

2. Offer educational materials — Many patients turn to social networks and other online tools to research information about conditions and treatments.

3. Facilitate support groups — One reason social networks are so popular for health-related use is that they allow patients to connect with others who are dealing with similar issues.

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