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Patients Using Social Media For Health Advice

April 26, 2012

When it comes to health concerns and touchy subjects such as STD’s, labor and birthing, and vaccinations, you might think that the last place people look to is Facebook and Twitter. However, a recent report from PricewaterhouseCoopers shows differently. In fact, around a third of U.S. adults use social media as a health resource, seeking medical information, discussing symptoms, asking questions, and expressing opinions about physicians, drugs and insurance companies. For medical marketing firms in Scottsdale, this is well known but important information.


Understanding Social Media Medical Marketing

Many medical professionals avoid social media at all costs. There’s uncertainty in social media, a misunderstanding of its ultimate purpose, and a fear that one disgruntled patient can break an entire brand. Understanding social media’s purpose in medical marketing is the first step that many physicians and healthcare professionals need to take. The second is finding a marketing firm that can engage on a professional level with your patients.


According to the recent study, of 1,600 individuals who were surveyed, 45% “said information found through social media would affect their decision to get a second medical opinion and 34% said it would affect their decision about taking a specific medication.”


And it’s not surprising that consumers have very high expectations in terms of responsiveness from their physicians. Seventy-two-percent of those surveyed “said they would like assistance in scheduling doctor appointments through social media and nearly half of those said they would expect a response within a few hours.”


It’s also not surprising that the demographic of these social media users is largely between the ages of 18 to 24, of which an amazing 80% said “they were likely to share health information through social media and nearly 90% said they would trust the information they found there.”


How To Engage With Patients on Social Media

The numbers don’t lie; people crave medical information and opinions specifically from their physicians on social media. But here’s the rub; medical professionals need to make this a priority in their marketing plans. If the majority of young people are making healthcare decisions based on advice they see on Facebook and Twitter, it stands to reason that you need to be giving them the right advice.


Engaging with your patients on Facebook and Twitter, as well as finding new patients on these social media platforms, involves the following:

• Dedication to consistency

• Commitment to providing accurate information in a compassionate way

• Complete transparency to generate trust

• Commitment to answering questions quickly and empathetically

• Office guidelines for every employee who has access to the Facebook account

• Plans in place to handle disgruntled patients immediately and effectively

• Creative ways to engage patients through contests, content, videos and live Q&A


Engaging with your patients on social media is not difficult, but it does take an understanding of what the Facebook patients want, what they’re looking for, and how you can give that to them. If these numbers are new to you, give us a call today to discuss how Facebook is something that you absolutely need to add to your medical marketing plans.