Healthcare Providers: The Need for Social Media

Unlike other businesses, healthcare is not a predominately profit-driven business. Since profit-generation is not a main focus of healthcare, why is it important that healthcare practitioners and providers should be connecting with patients online?

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According to research through CityTwig.com, only 5 in 10 healthcare providers in Newport Beach are online. That is significantly lower than the national average of 8 in 10.

In America, healthcare is operated on a FFS (fee-for-service) model. Practitioners and healthcare providers are given budgets by the government or insurance company based on the number of patients they have and the complexity of services they provide to patients.

Healthcare providers are also evaluated on the quality of services provided and the effectiveness of the service. This means that the level of service and the volume of patients per provider affects the amount of funding provided to the provider.

When servicing a generation that is more likely to turn to online resources rather than physically go to the doctor’s office, it is important for healthcare providers to be equally present on social media. Online presence is important because 45% of Americans use the internet to find physicians and health-related services. This allows a healthcare provider to be accessible to potential patients.

Patients will also turn to websites such as G+ to find out more information about a practice such as

  • “Does this physician provide vaccinations?”
  • “What hours is the provider open?”
  • “Open on Sundays?”
  • “Does this clinic provide quality service?”

The basic information easily found online decreases the amount of redundant phone calls a practice may receive. It also allows for potential patients to get more information about specific services provided.  Shockingly, only 13% of Newport Beach healthcare providers have information on G+.

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Facebook is the most commonly used channel of social media among Newport Beach practices.

As a healthcare provider, having an online presence allows the practice to be approachable. It also adds value to a patient to be able to interact and inquire about services easily.

At minimum, it is recommended that healthcare providers and practitioners:

  1. Start a Facebook Page: Having a Facebook page allows practices to share their achievements and health-related communication (ie. “Closed for the Holiday” or “Flu Season Best Practices”) to patients. Healthcare offices can list their hours on their Facebook page; and when open, the patient can directly contact the provider’s office. This adds value to a patient and gives exposure to the practice.
  2. Add their business, location and hours on G+: Having a business on G+ will give the local business an option to add themselves to Google Maps. This will ensure that the business is included in any searches within a specific geo-targeted area.

Patients are using social media for healthcare every day. For a doctor’s practice to increase patients and build solid rapport, it is recommended for businesses to have an online presence.

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