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Pros and Cons of Social Media in Healthcare (2022 Guide)

pros and cons of social media in healthcare

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Everyone knows that Facebook Groups are highly popular. You go to the social media outlet, which sees 4 billion people worldwide, find something you’re interested in, join the group, and enjoy this powerful tool on the internet.

Since the use of social media worldwide has become a necessity for millions of people today, the importance of using it for benefits is crucial. 

Presently, the general public uses the internet to find services and locate healthcare professionals. That is why an online healthcare provider has a better chance of gaining new connections than one who isn’t. 

Overall, social media and the internet can help support healthcare social media marketing, offering advice to the world, one person at a time. However, it’s important to understand the pros and cons of social media in healthcare before choosing to take it on in practice.

Benefits of Social Media in the Healthcare Industry

benefits of social media in healthcare

Having a social media presence is crucial because one provider can reach family members and friends of their employees and patients. There are various professional reasons to use social media, such as:

1. Patients Use Social Media Sites

As of 2021, there are about 4.48 billion social media users worldwide, and this number is highly unlikely to go down in the coming years. 

About 80 percent of patients used the internet to make one healthcare-related search in the past year, and that number is likely more. Therefore, it’s important to connect your practice and its services to the internet. Organizations often find that about 63 percent of people chose one provider based on their strong online presence.

The idea is to get into your patient’s social media feed. That way, you can offer advice and lead people to the networks that meet their needs best. While there are concerns about social media in healthcare, most people like the idea of having control over their lives and the benefits they receive. Still, each organization must focus on the business aspect of their healthcare practice.

[Read: All The Healthcare Marketing Statistics To Pay Close Attention To In 2022]

2. Easily Build Relationships with Patients

The healthcare industry is focused on specific things. Research must be done to ensure that they are providing the best services possible. However, patients want to feel that they have close relationships with their physicians. Communication is crucial, and it’s easier to post information and let others control when and how to share it.

According to a survey conducted on behalf of the American Osteopathic Association (AOA), roughly 42 percent of adults want to follow their healthcare professional on a social media platform like Twitter or Facebook. The ability to educate others is paramount here, and potential patients like the idea of having these healthcare professionals in their news feed on social media.

Overall, patients feel that the internet is the place to go to connect with all of their friends. Physicians and other health employees can create comments, post information, and mention other healthcare facilities to get everyone involved.

3. Cost-effective Marketing

There are no start-up costs associated with in-house healthcare social media marketing. In fact, new patients gained from appropriate social media marketing can lead to more revenue for the company. Overall, patients take their health seriously and want to know that you do, as well.

A physicians’ practice that has a strong internet presence can educate people and post helpful information online. From there, the patient reads the information and even shares it with their friends. They can promote their health, but they get the word out about new health issues, concerns, and options. Everyone can discuss things they’re interested in, allowing everyone to stay in control of their own health.

4. Showcase Accomplishments and Activities through Social Media Platforms

Patients want to know that their doctors and nurses are involved in the community. When you post information, you show that you care about your patients and their well-being. That makes them more likely to visit you and value your practice.

It’s best to include your professional achievements to show that you’re a trustworthy organization. This includes listing professional organizations that the doctors belong to, state medical boards, and even news articles.

Communication is crucial in the health industry, and online communities are a great place for the patient to post discussion-worthy information. However, social media options, such as Twitter or Facebook are the top choices because people can share information with all of their friends.

In a sense, social media breaks the ties that bind, allowing everyone to join in. With that, potential patients can use social media to find out more information about the organization itself. That gives them peace of mind and helps them feel confident about their choice of doctor.

5. Attract Healthcare Professionals to the Workplace

Research shows that about 90 percent of physicians use social networking sites, and 65 percent of them use social media for professional reasons. If your goal is to find more doctors and nurses to join your company, it’s crucial to have an online presence.

You show others that you’re online, and you’re proud of your abilities. From there, they can get information easily and converse with you through social media platforms. That translates into you being “with the times,” allowing them to feel confident about working with you.

[Read: The Pro’s Guide to Managing Social Media in Healthcare]

Drawbacks of Social Media in Healthcare

drawbacks of social media in healthcare

While there are many benefits of having a social media presence, it’s not all fun and games. There are actually many cons of social media in healthcare, and you must figure out the ways to overcome them if you want to be successful in integrating social media into your business. Here are just a few things to watch for:

1. Security Risks

One of the biggest fears social media users have is that their private information might get stolen. At the beginning of 2018, more than 56 percent of the compromised data records (over 4.5 billion of them) were from social media issues.

While more current information indicates that health information is protected, for the most part, there are still security and data breaches all the time. Patient privacy is something that everyone must focus on, especially the healthcare provider.

If you let slip social security numbers and other protected information, you could be held liable legally. Having social media gives you more chances to mess up. 

HIPAA now provides specific rules for safe online posting. This includes the censorship or elimination of a patient’s name, health insurance or social security number, birth date, or photos, and also entitles the patient to delete specific details about a rare illness, such as its diagnosis and its dates.

Therefore, the employees need proper training to reduce the risk of compliance violations. They must know what they can share and what they can’t.

2. False Information

Most people worry about false information popping up in healthcare social media marketing tactics, and it happens quite a bit. It actually takes six times as long for the truth to reach 1,500 people as it does falsehoods. The health of your patients is at stake here, and social media is known for promoting inconsistent information.

About three-fourths of the top health stories in 2018 contained false information or were misleading. With that, most people on social media focus solely on the headline and don’t even read the content.

This means false information is 70 percent more likely to be shared than the truth. To avoid this issue, it’s best to include easy-to-read headlines that get right down to the point.

3. Lack of Control from the Healthcare Professional

Another drawback of social media in healthcare is the lack of control you have. There’s no way to prevent negative comments from popping up on the things you share, and each person’s social media feed shows these things. Overall, there are bound to be unrelated responses to your messages and even criticism.

The other problem you might have is that, once it’s out there, it’s there forever. You might be able to delete negative responses, but enough people have seen them change their outlook about you.

It’s best to stay on top of any negativity. Don’t try to brush it under the rug; stand up to it and state your case immediately. That way, you show others that you care enough about your reputation to argue your point and help others understand.

4. Time-consuming

Having a social media presence isn’t easy because it’s a time-consuming task. Even if you only use one or two social media accounts, you must produce new content all the time and keep the buzz going. More channels ultimately demand more time, but your healthcare professionals are already spread thin, especially in today’s world.

On top of that, the results are not immediate. You could share things for months before you build a large following. There are so many other healthcare facilities competing for the time of each user of social media, so the struggle of being the best never fully goes away.

5. The Danger of Self-Diagnosis

Though potential patients tend to do at least one healthcare-related search each year, they turn to social media to self-diagnose. They may go to your page to find information about their condition instead of booking an appointment with your company.

Maximize the Use of Social Media To Grow Your Practice

Maximize the Use of Social Media To Grow Your Practice

While social media has drawbacks and benefits, it’s important to use a well-rounded style. Remember, some people might not like to use social media at all, such as senior citizens. 

If you switch to an online-only basis, you lose out on the customers who prefer to call or go in. However, if you don’t use social media, you lose out on all the potentials who want that connection with their physicians. Even with the risks involved and the time it takes to set things up, you can get positive results if you keep at it. 

You’re the expert, and the internet needs the wisdom you convey. Once people know you’re active on the web, your popularity is sure to grow, increasing revenue with it.

Don’t hesitate to consult with a professional healthcare marketer to maximize the use of social media for your practice.

For more cutting-edge information and tips about healthcare marketing, follow the Digitalis blog.

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Founder, North Valley Women's Care

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