Social Media in Healthcare: Prioritizing What Healthcare Consumers Need

A serial entrepreneur who started out by helping her husband succeed in his entrepreneurial journey and now runs her own business.

Today, social media is rapidly affecting people’s daily lives and expectations. Social media platforms such as YouTube, Facebook, and Twitter have dramatically altered the communication landscape in recent years.

According to a report by Statista, users of social networks have increased from 970 million in 2010 a 3.6 billion in 2020 and are expected to exceed 4.4 billion by 2025.

So when you combine social media with healthcare, it becomes a powerful combination. Social networks have become an important source of health and knowledge. Patients turn to social media platforms like Facebook and Twitter for instant help during emergencies. However, sometimes social media can also be a source of misinformation for both patients and providers.

For example, 76 percent of people in a survey indicated that they learned about COVID-19 through social media “at least a little.” However, 63.6% stated that it was unlikely that they would consult a health expert about the information they received on social networks.

In addition, social media platforms provide health care information not only in written form, but also in more easily accessible formats such as photos and videos. Through social media, patients have the luxury of evaluating reviews and ratings of their doctors, health products, and medications. Social connections on social networks provide patients with the knowledge and emotional support to cope with their illness. So, let’s find out which social media platforms are most used by patients.

According to research conducted in 2019 using PubMed, Google Scholar, and J-store as sources, Facebook was found to be the most used social media platform for healthcare-related interactions, followed by YouTube and Twitter.

On Facebook, patients follow health-related pages and participate in various healthcare groups and interact with other patients and doctors. While YouTube videos have helped patients learn about medical procedures, and thanks to Twitter, people are no longer passive consumers of health information.

Other general purpose social networks used by patients include LinkedIn, Foursquare, Hyves, WhatsApp, Wikipedia, Instagram, Yahoo! Answers and Snapchat. Patients also frequent certain social networking review sites such as patientslikeme, Netwellness, Inspire.com, MD Talks.com, and online forums such as Blueboard.anu.edu.au.

With 81% of patients prioritizing online reviews while searching for their potential healthcare provider, online patient reviews play a crucial role in the healthcare segment.

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The PatientBond Consumer Diagnostic Survey (2018) categorized potential patients into segments based on their lifestyle, motivation, and values. This segmentation can help healthcare providers understand how to approach patients from different backgrounds.

According to the survey, Self-Achievers and Willful Endurers were the most likely to research a primary care physician using social media ratings or patient ratings. On the other hand, priority jugglers and direction takers were statistically more likely to ignore online patient reviews.

Furthermore, among all people over the age of 18, those between the ages of 25 and 34 were the most inclined to trust this data. People aged 65 and over were significantly more likely to disregard or disregard online doctor reviews and ratings.

However, the fact that you deal predominantly with elderly patients does not mean that internet reviews are irrelevant to you. Some of those older patients may have children or younger caregivers to help them find healthcare professionals. Younger generations are significantly more likely to seek out and consider internet reviews.

So start using internet reviews and ratings as part of your patient acquisition campaign.

remaining compliance

One of the main problems with social media in healthcare is that healthcare social media accounts are subject to strict restrictions and regulations. HIPAA compliance is important, but you must also comply with FDA advertising guidelines.

Some important HIPAA guidelines include:

  • Create precise regulations for the use of social networks and ensure that all workers understand how HIPAA applies to social networking sites.
  • As part of HIPAA training, all employees receive training on permitted use of social media and annual refresher training sessions are held.
  • To promote understanding, give employees examples of what is and is not appropriate.
  • Communicate the potential consequences of HIPAA violations on social media, including termination, loss of license, and criminal fines.
  • Make sure your compliance department approves every new use of social media.
  • Annually review and update your social media policy.

For more detailed guidelines, check out the HIPPA Magazine on Social Media.

This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not intended to be a substitute for formal, individualized advice from a qualified professional.

© 2022 Minu Prasad

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