Health professionals, along with lawyers and financiers, are bound by a different set rules when it comes to communicating with the public, both on and offline. This has made publishing content online tricky, since they are faced with different challenges and obstacles.
In today’s fast-moving digital age, they are now accepting and overcoming these challenges, stepping into the real world of communications, which is now found almost entirely on the internet. The use of social media by medical professionals is on the rise, with 60% of doctors agreeing that social media improves the quality of care for patients. (Source: Journal of Medical Research)
- 24% use social media daily to scan or explore new medical information
- 14% contribute information to social media daily
- on a weekly basis, 61% scanned and explored new info and 46% contributed information on social media
- 58% percent perceive social media to be beneficial and a good way to get current, high-quality information
So now that those in the health sector are on board with social media, how can they master content marketing on social networks? What problems are they facing and strategies are they using for a better presence on these platforms?
The HIPAA Headache
Enacted in 1996, HIPAA (Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act) regulations mostly encompass a need for patient confidentiality. The solution here is quite simple, don’t share any specific information regarding patients, doctors or medical records.
While doctors will often discuss different patient cases and conditions, they do so either with the patient’s permission or they do not identify that person by name. In other words, a physician might consult another doctor regarding a patient with flu symptoms. Instead of saying, “I saw John Smith this morning who presented with a fever and cough,” they might say, “I had a patient earlier with a cough and high fever.”
Facebook Friendly and Formal
Many doctors are hesitant to use Facebook for both personal and professional purposes. There’s another simple solution to this dilemma, keep the two completely separate and adjust the privacy setting on one’s personal profile to keep patients from intruding on your private life.
The social choice for most professionals is on board LinkedIn and this holds equally true for physicians. Although Facebook is still the online leader, a recent survey of over 1,500 hospitals found that while 84% of them are active on Facebook, 43% are also using on LinkedIn.
This is an excellent platform to post your content, your professional resume, history and biography, but at the same time, try to keep it approachable and friendly. This is often a spot where potential patients are performing research.
Join a Professional Organization
Let’s face it, doctors and health care professionals are busy, busy, busy, often with a thriving medical practice, patients and many other assorted duties. Another way of networking is by joining a professional medical association, like the AMA (American Medical Association) or the ANA (American Nursing Association). You can connect with other members and stay informed with the latest trends and medical developments. Some associations offer assistance such as career opportunities and medical certifications. The organizations also have Groups on LinkedIn you can join and become a contributor.
One way of finding an association that is a better fit is to Google your particular field, like dermatology followed by “medical associations” and there will be some good examples.
Find your way to better professional connections online and boost your profile online. Introduce yourself to the online medical community and prospective patients, you won’t be sorry.
Nick Rojas is a business consultant and writer who lives in Los Angeles. He has consulted small and medium-sized enterprises for over twenty years. He has contributed articles to Visual.ly, Entrepreneur, and TechCrunch. You can follow him on Twitter @NickARojas, or you can reach him at NickAndrewRojas@gmail.com.