In the age of Google, a strong online presence is the key to running a successful healthcare business. That said, it’s becoming essential for hospitals and health providers to reconsider their marketing strategies and start mixing social media into the equation.
A study by iCrossing and Opinion Research Corporation, “How America Searches: Health & Wellness,” discovered 34 percent of consumers use social media to search for health information and 36 percent what to see what other consumers say about medication or treatment. The study also found 67 percent use online search engines to find healthcare services.
Simply put: online marketing for physicians is crucial and social media can help lift your business through the rankings in Google searches. To help understand the possible applications, consider these five examples of how the social web can work for hospitals and others in the healthcare industry:
- Live Procedures Tweeting – Social media channels have helped open an area of healthcare that was, until recently, available to a select few: the operating room. Last February, Henry Ford Hospital became one of the first hospitals to use tweet a live procedure from an operating room. Doctors, medical students and curious non-medical personnel followed along as surgeons posted short updates on a kidney surgery to remove a cancerous tumor.
- Train Medical Personnel to Tweet – Some healthcare organizations have begun leveraging social media channels to complement training efforts. The Mayo Clinic, for example, incorporated social media into a recent training presentation for local chapters of the American Heart Association. During the presentation, participants were encouraged to contribute to the discussion using the #AHAchat hashtag.
- Appeal to Mainstream Media – Reporters have become tech savvy. Seventy percent of journalists use social networks to assist reporting, compared with 41 percent the year before. With numbers that high, it only makes sense for healthcare marketers to leverage social media channels in order to achieve coverage by both mainstream media and industry publications. As part of healthcare marketing efforts, organizations can use social media channels – including blogs, forums and microblogs – to share success stories from out-of-the-ordinary operations or treatments, medical research or other significant achievements.
- Communicate during Times of Crisis - Whether it be a flood, an earthquake or a mass shooting, hospitals and healthcare providers are at the center of it all when a disaster strikes. Healthcare providers can use social media networks to provide real-time updates both for those directly affected by the crisis and those watching from afar.
- Share Information with Patients – With the magnitude of health information available on the web – both accurate and inaccurate – it’s likely that patients can easily be misinformed. By integrating social media into doctor marketing strategy, organizations can share accurate, timely information regarding symptoms, diseases, medications, treatments and more.