Using Twitter for Your Medical Practice

March 3, 2011

Twitter is not the best social media tool for a medical practice, in my opinion. Though one of the largest social media platforms, Twitter appeals to a demographic much different than the typical medical practice.

Twitter is not the best social media tool for a medical practice, in my opinion. Though one of the largest social media platforms, Twitter appeals to a demographic much different than the typical medical practice. It has tremendous appeal to those that maintain an online business.

Yet, here are few ways you might consider using this social media platform.

1. Sharing Information: The most common use of Twitter is to promote some type of online business. Many users will broadcast a short message including a link back to their home page/website. The goal is to increase traffic to their site, and secondarily, increase sales. But most of us don’t do direct sales via our Web page.

We are in a service industry. Using Twitter in this way has been an effective way for me to highlight new articles on my blog and website and then, secondarily, increase patient volume. I link my blog to my Twitter account. Every time I post a new article, it automatically broadcasts to Twitter. It’s an effective method to draw attention to my web site.

2. Direct Messages: One of the functions on Twitter allows you to send a “Direct Message” to another person. It is viewed only by the recipient. This is counter-intuitive to the whole basis of social media, but you can have a “private” exchange with another person Twitter.

I have “private” communications with a person in England. This person has severe diabetic retinopathy and prefers communicating through “Direct Message” on Twitter. It really is no different than sending an e-mail. It can be viewed at any time found convenient by the recipient.

3. Clinical Pearls: Many more physicians that dare to use Twitter are doing so by sharing information about actual cases. In this way, a doctor can reach out to anyone “following” him/her and ask for advice or help with a particular case. Better than e-mail, “Tweets” occur in real time and it avoids the usual lag of e-mail. Groups of physicians can have an active, real-time discussion, even when making rounds or before the patient leaves the office.

4. Practice Alerts: Again, taking advantage of the “real-time” of Twitter, savvy medical practices are able to “Tweet” about last minute appointment cancellations and fill these open slots with patients needing an appointment. Other examples include a broadcast about the arrival of the flu vaccine, patient appointment reminders, etc. In theory, you could even Tweet if your schedule is running ahead of, or behind, schedule.

These are just a few tangible ways to consider the use of Twitter. It need not be just to drive traffic to your website, but can be a useful tool that benefits your patients -and your bottom line.