Social Media: Healthcare is Doing it Wrong

Marie Westerhof

Marie Westerhof

Posted on October 17, 2014

It’s no secret that social media has become a massive platform for medical patients to stay informed and share concerns about their conditions. However, searches for lesser-known or more stigmatized medical conditions reveal that healthcare social media marketing has definite room for improvement. For a case-in-point, try searching “warts” and see how much (or how little) information from real medical professionals pops up.

Healthcare providers on social media are clearly ignoring significant patient populations, foregoing thousands of potential online connections. The failure to be inclusive of all patients, even those with strange or unsavory conditions, detracts from a healthcare practice by making it seem like a less reliable information source.

When approaching digital networking, online connections lead to positive offline results– agreed? So, what exactly are healthcare professionals doing wrong on social media, and how can it be fixed?

The Problem with Public Pages

It’s easy to assume that public pages are as inclusive as it gets, but in fact, your public page might be alienating those with more stigmatized conditions.

Some populations are easy to educate because they are easily accessible, but not all conditions have produced a great amount of activity in the social media world. While a search for “cancer” will lead you to dozens of public pages keeping patients well-informed, the first two hits for “yellow fever” are a band and a book.

Likewise, you might be hesitant to create a page for a condition like “foot fungus” if you assume that nobody wants to talk about it, but the stigmatized patient population is the very reason for healthcare’s presence on social networks– these people need an information source and a platform to turn to for support.

The Solution

A simple way to reach your most inaccessible patients is to create or take part in private pages that encourage a safe and intimate community. These groups expand by requests to join, personal invites and word of mouth, so it will be a good idea to reach out to patients personally. Another highly effective way for patients, doctors, and organizations to share information is through healthcare-specific social media platforms, such as PatientsLikeMe. Using private pages and specialized social media platforms or medical marketing services will close the gap in your marketing strategy, inspiring client trust, educating all patients, and gaining crucial exposure of your practice.

Marie Westerhof

Marie Westerhof

Marie is the Director of Marketing at Medical Web Experts, and has over 10 years of experience in the development and execution of digital marketing campaigns for healthcare organizations. She also heads complex medical writing projects for healthcare networks, hospitals, large physician groups, and independent physician practices.

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