Healthcare practices need to be extra careful about social media.
Every business, even private practices, needs some presence on social media. However, healthcare practices need to be extra careful.
Patient privacy and the channels you use – these are among the factors every practice must consider when putting together a social media plan in place. Here's what you need to know for the best success.
First, take a deep breath. You don’t need to be everywhere. Pick the ones that are best for the needs of your practice. How? By finding out which platforms the majority of your potential patients spend their time.
If you're looking for a younger demographic vs. an older one, or you're focusing on other specific factors such as gender, location, or something else, you need to know where your target audience is scrolling.
Patients need to know what you offer. Images of your office location establish a sense of professionalism. Before and after photos help people understand what kind of results they can expect. You also want to detail your services so patients know what to expect.
Patients want to work with medical professionals who take time and really hear what their patients have to say. Your social media presence should show them that you're the right practice for their needs.
If you're not posting on a schedule or offering much social media value, people aren't going to be as likely to follow you. That's why you want to plan your posts, schedule them out, and use the power of specific campaigns and content to bring people into your practice.
You might offer a small incentive for new patients, for example, and you can tailor many of your campaigns around awareness months and local happenings. That will keep your content fresh and also show patients that you're engaged in the community you're serving.
Telling a good story is one of the best ways to bring people in and get them interested in what your services. Defining the difference between required and elective care is important so patients know the value of both types of services.
If you can tell them a compelling story about the value of routine checkups or show how different someone's life is after a particular treatment, they'll be more interested in coming to your practice for help.
No matter how much you might want to tell personal patient stories, Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) guidelines apply. You can't just start sharing patient’s private medical information with the world through social media platforms. Also, it's not just patient privacy that matters, as you want to protect your own privacy and that of your employees, as well.
To do that, ensure you aren't posting anything that would show a personal address, a birthday, or any specific patient identifiers. If you have someone managing your social media, be sure they understand HIPAA compliance and your own privacy restrictions to reduce risk.
Don’t ignore negative reviews. The best course of action is to respond to them in a polite and professional manner. That can help defuse and address a tense situation, and it also shows potential patients that you take accountability and want to make things right.
When you reply, be sure to keep private information off of social media. You might want to suggest that the person contact you privately to talk about their concerns. Even if the reviewer is rude, stay polite. Since many people screenshot or repost things, social media posts never really go away, even if you delete them. Responding inappropriately could come back to cause you a problem later.
Another way to see more success is to use sponsored content. That puts your posts in front of your target market, which can help you reach more people who want or need your services. Your competitors may or may not be doing that, and paying attention to what they're doing online is also a good way to get ideas.
In short, make sure you're following strong strategies for social media success, and you can get more patients into your practice organically. That will help grow your practice over time, leading to longer-term value for everyone involved.
Jesse Noyes is Vice President of Organic Marketing at Tebra, a leader in practice automation solutions for independent healthcare practices. In 2021, Kareo and PatientPop merged to form Tebra, and Jesse joined the team the November of the following year.