Social Media & the Delivery of Healthcare
May 07, 2012
It took radio almost 40 years to reach 50 million users; TV almost 15 and the internet about 5. Facebook reached 50 million users in about a year. A short 8 years later, 10 times that number or 500 million people throughout the world are connecting with others through Facebook.
Based on data collected in 2010, about 42% of physicians accessed social media sites for personal use. One year later, the numbers grew to 90%, higher than the general adult population. Still, physicians for the most part do not use digital media channels professionally. Their patients, however, spend a good deal of time online using social media to research their symptoms, discuss their healthcare issues with others and for referral information. Peer referral is the strongest resource. Patients trust their families, friends and colleagues. Where the best ads used to be word of mouth, now it’s the online equivalent. Even this year’s record-breaking Super Bowl viewership only amounted to about 25% of Facebook’s viewership. Without a doubt, well written digital content reaches many more people than expensive television commercials.
Clearly, online conversations about you as healthcare providers/organizations are happening with or without you. The genie is out of the bottle. Patients want the multi-faceted communications with the velocity and volume currently enabled only by social media. The very ubiquity of social media use by patients may ultimately compel providers to re-think their lack of professional use. In so doing, practitioners who use social media may actually reach their patients more frequently and more substantially, thereby creating deeper relationships. So what holds you back?
FEAR. Fear of violating someone’s privacy. Fear of violating HIPAA. Fear of negative feedback. That and the fact that once you see your patients, dictate your charts, fight with payers about billing and collections, take call, spend time with your families, eat and sleep, just when are you supposed to professionally engage through social media channels? There just aren’t enough hours in each day.
Next time: How can healthcare professionals and organizations jump on?
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