Social media has inarguably taken the world by storm. From Twitter to Facebook, users worldwide are more connected now more than ever, and the healthcare industry has not been left out.
The clinic regularly shares actionable tips with thousands of its followers on Twitter and Facebook. For more difficult concepts, such as virtual reality using Computer-Assisted Rehabilitation Environment (CAREN), it turns to YouTube, recording detailed videos of typical sessions at the clinic. The clinic director, Lev Kalika, also actively engages on Yelp, addressing even the most negative reviews about the clinic.
“Communication is a big part of our responsibility in talking with the public,” says Caplan. “I think doctors and scientists, to be regarded as professionals, really should take on the duty of trying to be an antidote to what is often nonsense, or worse than nonsense, in the social media world.”
On social media, power has changed hands. Social media has given patients the space to vent their frustrations and anger and to collectively follow up on causes they feel most compelled to join. This keeps healthcare providers and policymakers on their toes. A patient who has a bad experience at a particular healthcare facility is only one tweet or Facebook post away from sharing the experience with the world.
But accountability is not a one-sided affair. For patients, sharing experiences of their own health struggles, such as weight-loss efforts, also makes them accountable. A study conducted at the Georgia Institute of Technology found that people who expressed positive sentiments on Twitter were more likely to reach their diet goals. Social media, for all of its ills, still present great ways for people to improve their health.
Although social media presents a lot of benefits in terms of information access and improving public relations with healthcare professionals, many medical practitioners are still reluctant about joining the bandwagon, with the top reason being the blurred lines between what is appropriate to share on social media and what is not.
One thing is clear, though: Healthcare organizations that are serious about reaching more audiences or interacting better with existing audiences should be on social media. As the internet evolves, the right balance between information sharing and relationship building on social media for the healthcare industry will gradually emerge.
Pius Boachie is a freelance writer and inbound marketing consultant who works closely with business-to-consumer and business-to-business brands on providing content that gains social media attention and increases search-engine visibility. He shares actionable marketing ideas for businesses on his blog, Digimatic.