“It’s too time-consuming”, “it’s just a fad”,“there’s no ROI”—those are a few of the excuses some healthcare providers have for not being on social media.
We understand how hopping on Facebook after a 12-hour shift doesn’t sound particularly appealing. When you consider what you have to gain from these powerful platforms, however, the benefits far outweigh the costs in time and effort.
For one, your voice in the social sphere is bound to garner influence. The Pew Research Center found that “health and medicine” is the most interesting topic to online adults, beating out the topic of “science and technology.” Furthermore, 45.6 percent of U.S. adults use social media for health research.
Having a receptive audience is only scratching the surface of social media’s potential though. Here are seven more ways being active online can benefit your career.
1. Getting more business.
Social media offers incredible exposure and influence to those who take advantage of it. In fact, 41 percent of people said that social platforms would impact their choice of a specific doctor, hospital or medical facility.
In a study on physicians’ use of social media, one doctor noted, “[Social media] doesn’t cost much in terms of money…and it can lead to other opportunities. It can lead to more media outreach, speaking engagements, opportunities to teach, promotion for your practice, i.e., ‘free’ publicity.”
Having an online presence makes you more visible, thus garnering a bigger audience than you could otherwise. A perfect example is when the Mayo Clinic began using social media to promote its podcast. Within a month, its audience increased by 76,000 listeners.
Social media gives providers the opportunity to expand their reach, manage their reputation, garner patient loyalty and, ultimately, get more business.
2. Providing quality care for all.
The aim of all clinicians is to provide quality care. Social media can facilitate that too. In fact, 60 percent of doctors believe that social media improves the quality of care patients receive.
Not only does the quality improve, the number of patients you can see increases, as well. As one doctor said of their experience with social media, “We realized that each of us could see maybe 20 to 25 patients a day, but on social media, we could reach hundreds or thousands of patients a day.”
Of course, some providers are weary of giving medical advice to patients online or worry that sharing their experiences with colleagues could lead to a HIPAA violation. These are legitimate concerns, which is why many healthcare institutions have issued specific guidelines for providers’ social media use.
Avoid any inadvertent offenses by referring to your hospital or facility’s guidelines, and always think before you post.
3. Connecting with colleagues.
The networking opportunities via social media are what providers find most attractive about these platforms.
You can follow what your colleagues are sharing and discussing and even build relationships with people you don’t know who work in your field, which can be especially important for those in highly niche practices.
One Twitter-savvy physician noted, “I found that I really enjoy Twitter for learning and connecting with people and building relationships. There aren’t many of us, the physicians in this space. This is the best and easiest place to find them (other physicians).”
The traditional social media platforms serve this function just fine, but if you want an online experience tailored to the medical community, Doximity is a great professional platform for clinicians.
4. Staying updated on industry trends.
Perhaps the greatest asset social media has to offer is the wealth of information. A simple scroll of your newsfeed gives you the gist of everything going on in your field.
Real time updates lead to faster implementation, as evidenced from one doctor’s quote: “As soon as the new blood pressure guidelines came out, people started tweeting about them. I know about it ‘cause I’m following people who pay attention to that on Twitter. It’s a good way to keep up with what thought leaders are talking about.”
That information can also make you better at your job. Don’t forget that patients have the same access to medical news that you do.
Say a revolutionary treatment gets FDA approval and makes the news. If one of your patients asks you about it and you have no idea what they’re talking about, then you lose credibility. Perhaps that’s why 88 percent of physicians use social media to research pharmaceutical, biotech and medical devices.
Staying updated on healthcare developments and enriching yourself with the knowledge at your disposal are crucial to your work as a provider.
5. Disseminating updates.
With social media, you can send updates as easily as you receive them too. This benefit is especially important in times of crisis.
According to a 2012 survey, only 32 percent of hospitals use social media for crisis communication, but when hospitals do use these sites, they’re able to disseminate information quickly and effectively.
During the 2009 shooting at Fort Hood in central Texas, Scott & White Healthcare employees provided real time updates via Twitter on ER access, Red Cross news, hospital developments and more. Their actions led to a 78 percent increase in Twitter followers.
Another emergency that called for social media updates was during the 2016 Zika outbreak. The CDC used Twitter and Facebook to provide the public with information on the virus’s symptoms, transmission, localization and prevention techniques.
These updates minimized both the virus’s impact and the misinformation pertaining Zika that could have endangered even more civilians.
Remember, the blessing of social media is also its curse. Anyone using these sites has the power to influence the masses with whatever information they spread, which leads us to the next benefit these platforms offer to healthcare providers.
6. Combatting medical misinformation.
Medical misinformation isn’t just a nuisance—it’s a danger to the public.
Think about the anti-vaccination movement. There are so many widespread misconceptions about vaccines, like the notion that vaccines are linked to autism or that they’re unnecessary because most of the diseases they prevent have been eliminated.
These ideas have led to frustratingly avoidable developments. Let’s not forget about the measles comeback caused by anti-vaxxers. What’s worse, people who choose not to vaccinate endanger themselves, their children and everyone they come in contact with.
That’s why providers need to drown out all the misguided influencers by sharing accurate information in a way that people outside of the medical community can understand.
The only way to do that is through social media.
As one doctor said, social media makes it easy for clinicians to “provide accurate information from evidence-based research. I can provide a summary of an article in terms that parents can understand instead of them just reading information from the latest celebrity.”
When it comes to subverting misinformation, the best strategy is to fight fire with fire.
7. Finding your next opportunity.
Another way providers use social media is to aid them in the job hunt.
From 2010 to 2013, the number of clinicians using social media to search for jobs doubled from 21 to 42 percent. We can assume that number has only increased since then.
LinkedIn in particular is a great platform that can connect providers with potential employers. More practices than ever are turning to social media to recruit clinicians because it’s cheaper and sometimes more effective than using traditional job boards.
If you’re looking for the next step in your career, social media is a great place to start. Another tactic that would be even easier and more effective for you is to use a recruiter.
There’s never a bad time to consider your options. We have plenty of available positions for physicians, pharmacists, APPs and allied health providers.
Contact us today to find better opportunity tomorrow!