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Physicians are ignoring social media at their own peril

700x450_Why_ion_Expertise-636x408Sue Ter Maat (@Sue_TerMatt) of American Medical News (published by the American Medical Association) reports that physicians who forgo social media risk falling behind their patients’ growing demands for digital communication.

Frances Dare (@francesdare), managing director of connected health services for the consulting firm Accenture, takes it a step further. “If [Physicians] don’t do social media, social media will do them.”

Ter Matt cites a report from digital consulting firm, HP Social Media Solutions, and a 2012 survey by consulting firm PWC (Price Waterhouse Coopers), as to why social media is so important for physicians, hospital, and healthcare systems. Patients increasingly expect healthcare providers to provide helpful medical through social media, counteract wrong info, and to participate in forums where medical issues are being discussed.

Patients increasingly expect healthcare providers to provide helpful medical through social media, counteract wrong info, and to participate in forums where medical issues are being discussed.

Beyond monitoring any negative reviews on social networking and ratings sites, physicians, per Dare, ought to consider blogging and using Twitter to share medical information.

Nearly a quarter of patients in the PWC survey said they use social media to manage their health care. Twenty-four percent post about medical experiences, and 27% post reviews about medications, treatments, doctors or health insurers.

Patients going online to exchange medical information is nothing new. Neither is physicians going online to share information.

Today, with the Internet being ubiquitous and social networks only a smartphone away, consumers expect so much more of their physicians. A marketing crafted profile on a clinic or hospital site doesn’t cut it.

Patients and their families are looking to develop some level of trust with a physician they’re referred to or are considering seeing. This trust can come through social interaction or at a minimum a physician sharing medical information in a conversational and comforting fashion.

Healthcare, beyond just its cost, is heady stuff. Our life and well being is at stake. People do have a right to know who to trust, and people are already developing relationships of trust through social media on much less serious matters.

Less you think healthcare providers are not taking social media seriously, Mayo Clinic has over 4,000 doctors using Twitter. Mayo, as I have blogged, has decided to bring Mayo to the world, and the world to Mayo, through the Clinic’s social media initiate, now five years old.

When you have Accenture, Price Waterhouse, and the American Medical Association warning professionals that they need to start using social media, you’re more than a little fool hardy taking a pass. Clients and prospective clients will show you why.

 

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