As social media continues to grow at a rapid pace, it has become abundantly clear that all businesses need to utilize social channels in order to compete successfully. This remains true for the healthcare industry even though health services are a necessity to all consumers.
The Internet has become the top resource for health questions, with a huge amount of people consulting it before ever making an appointment with a health professional:
- Over the last few years, trust in online health resources has increased by 44%
- 75% of patients research their symptoms online before visiting a doctor
- 64% of patients who turn to the Internet for health questions use search first to start the research on their condition
- Out of the people searching for health-related information, 55% never make it past the first page
Overall, statistics show that 78% of consumers take action offline after researching health concerns on the Internet (Google Insights).
Social media strategy
Creating a social media strategy in addition to other inbound marketing tactics can further build your online presence and help boost your organic search rankings. Social media allows you to deliver information in real-time to your targeted audience while also demonstrating expertise and establishing trust among your followers (Green Buzz Agency).
There are more than 1,000 hospitals with a social media presence to promote themselves and monitor customer satisfaction (ebennett.org). Not only do social pages connect medical professionals with patients, but they also give patients the opportunity to easily converse with one another:
- 60 million Americans discuss their medical issues with each other online
- 41% of patients have read someone else’s commentary or experience about health or medical issues in an online news group, website or blog
- 24% of patients online have consulted rankings or reviews of doctors, providers, hospitals, or medical facilities (Green Buzz Agency)
Negotiating privacy and legality
Although social networking can enhance your online presence, it is important to remember that there are challenges, specifically in the healthcare industry, when using the Internet to spread health-related information. Primarily, you must be aware of issues surrounding liability and consumer trust since the HIPPA laws limit health professionals from answering questions about a specific patient.
A digital marketing and analytics agency like Fathom can help you build and maintain successful social channels for your healthcare business while traversing the tricky legal environment. Don’t make the mistake of thinking that the Internet won’t have an effect on loyal patients. Easy access to mass amounts of information (including peer input) can greatly sway customers’ decisions, especially when it pertains to their health and well-being.
Photo courtesy of Herts Air Ambulance via Flickr.
Check out Fathom’s white paper on Healthcare SEM. Learn the basics of PPC, common challenges hospitals face, and strategies for increasing ROI.