How Your Physicians Should Be Using Social Media

Here at the Greystone Healthcare Internet Conference, many of the discussions have revolved around utilizing social media in healthcare. One interesting perspective is to mobilize your physicians to utilize social media as a channel to communicate with their patients. To address this, the keynote speaker on Day One was Dr. Natasha Berger, whose engaging presentation demonstrated not only the value of social media in healthcare, but that she individually is a shining light for the whole healthcare industry.

Let’s start with the challenges facing your hospital’s physicians. According to Dr. Berger, these doctors are unsure:

a)      How to spread healthcare information to their patients and the public at large,

b)      How to truly take care of a patient when you see them so rarely,

c)      How to manage a patient’s condition when your visit is only 20 minutes long,

d)      How to cope with the fact that Facebook, WebMD, and Dr. Oz are the most popular sources for health information.

Today’s physician needs to understand that social media is not just about sharing funny cat videos. Instead, social media is one more tool for taking care of patients, reaches them where they are, and speaks in an informal yet powerful way. Moreover, 40% of social media users say a social media presence would influence their choice of doctor or hospital – so this is critical to your hospital’s growth.

Dr. Berger also argued that social media makes a doctor’s office more efficient. First, it decreases the number of phone calls to your practice. Second, you don’t have to do all the work yourself: social media is also a great channel for spreading the voices and insights of other brilliant physicians around the country. Third, using QR codes and shortlinks in the waiting rooms, Dr. Berger allows patients to educate themselves while they’re waiting to be seen. Fourth, social media and her blog allow patients to learn when they are ready to hear; as you can imagine, a busy doctor’s office isn’t always the best place to deeply educate that patient on their condition. This takes the boring, rote lectures out of the equation; now, Dr. Berger’s conversations are more focused and tailored to that individual family and their questions.

I found it especially interesting how Dr. Berger has used social media and the Web for far more than just simple communication. She used it as a bully-pulpit, publicly complaining to Fisher-Price about the safety of one of their products. She uses it to build trust with potential patients, long before they actually come into the office. Because Facebook has become a universal language that we all read and enjoy, as a result of Dr. Berger’s efforts, parents can now better communicate with their kids.

So how can your hospital engage doctors in social media? You’ll have to demonstrate how social media will help them do their jobs better, more efficiently, and more effectively. In addition, you can help promote and share that doctor’s talents on a national scale. How is your hospital using social media? How are you tracking the results?


For more illustrations on how patients use social media and search, check out our webinar on The 2014 Digital Patient Journey on Tuesday, March 25th at 2 pm.

Patient Journey Webinar

About Matthew Fieldman

With 12 years of experience working in nonprofits all over the world, Matt became a leader in Fathom’s healthcare practice in 2012. Matt’s healthcare clients include organizations from small regional addiction recovery centers to massive hospital systems, from regional health insurance providers to the nation’s largest provider of senior assisted living solutions. Matt’s educational background includes earning a Bachelor’s of Science in Psychology from the University of Florida in 2000, a Master’s in Business Administration from The George Washington University in 2005, and a Certificate in Nonprofit Management from Case Western Reserve University in 2010. He attended the 2013 Mayo Clinic Social Media Residency in June 2013 and spoke at the Greystone Healthcare Internet Conference in November 2013. Matt is an alum of Cleveland Bridge Builders 2011, was named as an Ariane de Rothschild Fellow, and was selected to Cleveland’s “25 Under 35.”

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