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    Physicians shouldn’t shy away from social media

    Practical solutions to fears associated with online trends

    In a recent article by David Shaywitz, M.D., Ph.D., he describes four reasons why physicians are concerned about the increase in popularity of social media and online search. The information used in the article was gathered from a group of physicians attending a breakout session during a medical conference.

    After reading these concerns it occurred to me, that there may be a significant gap — or lack of understanding — on the part of the medical community surrounding the potential benefits associated with online search and social media. Which is typically the basis for unfounded fear and a reluctance to participate.

    The following four central themes emerged:

    Concern 1: Patients receiving “bad” information

    “Many physicians described the challenges of dealing with patients who had retrieved wrong or incomplete information from the Internet. This turns out to be a remarkably common problem; doctors reported spending a lot of time undoing bad information.”

    Is it realistic to assume that medical consumers use of online search and social media is going to increase? I think we can all agree this is not a passing fad and barring significant legislative/regulatory intervention this trend will continue.

    Solution: Evaluate. Embrace. Engage.

    Your medical practice has a big decision to make. Embrace or disgrace. In other words, embrace the reality of this trend or express dissatisfaction and live with the outcome. Knowing the proactive innovative spirit of the modern medical professional, most will choose to embrace the situation and turn this challenge into a golden opportunity.

    How? Become part of the discussion. Create a viable online presence with up-to-date accurate information. Consistently create and distribute engaging and informational content that provides patients with up-to-date information on treatments, procedures and recent discoveries.

    In other words, become a trusted source of information for new and existing patients. Encourage patients to visit your virtual medical community for important information related to their diagnosis.

    Bottom line: Do your best to increase connectivity with your patient population and control the content.

    Concern 2: Patients transmitting “bad” information

    “Many doctors in the audience were also visibly troubled by the ease with which patients could share “misleading” information, whether about medicine or the doctors themselves.”

    Solution: Evaluate. Embrace. Engage.

    First, practitioners must familiarize themselves with the various outlets, directories and forums where reviews may appear. Many times the internal view of the practice’s reputation may not be consistent with the perceived (virtual) reputation of the practice. Why? What is out of synch and what internal steps can be taken to create alignment with the perceived reputation and the desired reputation of the practice?

    The practice must do everything it can to control its online reputation. Use technology to the advantage of the practice. A mobile device placed in the reception area would allow satisfied patients to access their email accounts and share their positive experience. Practice personnel should encourage patients to share their positive experiences online and avoid a victim mentality.

    Next: Doctors receiving info badly


    Adam DeGraide
    Adam DeGraide is CEO and founder of Crystal Clear Digital Marketing


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