Tag Archives: wellcentrix

The Social Web + “Real” Health Reform

Mashable, one of the top media outlets covering the web and its impact on global society, posted a terrific piece on how the social web is effecting real change in how doctors and patients engage and communicate with each other.

Patients have long used the web to seek out information on health and medicine. Personally, I think search was invented so we could look for how to figure out why [insert body part here] started hurting. So I wasn’t surprised to see that there’s been a more than 30% rise in web usage by US physicians in the last eight years.

My only question is this: why are so many doctors and other healthcare providers still reluctant to participate in the online conversation?

It’s true that, due to HIPAA compliance issues, healthcare has to use some real discernment when communicating on the web. Yet even those practices who are nervous about putting themselves on Twitter or Facebook could get some serious mileage out of building a secure patient portal to facilitate how patients schedule appointments, renew prescriptions, ask questions, report numbers (blood sugar, etc.), and review their records.

Yes, the web can make your activity transparent. However, a secure portal helps doctors, and their teams, be even more effective at helping their patients. Adding a social media presence to help educate the community at large is a good idea, too.

Not engaging online can cost a practice patients, and revenue. If you don’t know how to go about building an online presence for your practice, we can help. Need a secure patient portal? We can help there, too.

You don’t have to call us. Just make sure you call somebody – because your patients are talking about you. What are they saying? If you don’t listen, you’ll never know…

3 Reasons Doctors Avoid Social Media – and Why They’re Not Valid

1. Using social media puts me in violation of HIPAA rules
Not true – doctors and other healthcare providers can use social media tools without risking arrest by the HIPAA police. The important caveat: do not engage with individual patients about their care. If they ask you a question about their medication on your practice’s Facebook fan page, ask them to contact you through your practice’s patient portal.

2. None of my patients are using social media
Not true – a 2008 Deloitte survey revealed that over 70% of patients (all patients, not just those 18-40) want online access to their doctors. A 2009 Pew Internet Research study showed that 83% of all US adults online regularly seek out healthcare information on the web. 24% of patients have sought out information on medical care review sites. Tell your own story, don’t let Angie’s List do it for you.

3. It takes too much time
Not true – it takes 20 minutes a day to manage social media for a small practice group. Make it a team effort by including your nursing team and your front office staff in your social media strategy. Develop a social media plan, a good social media policy that includes clear “rules of engagement”, and build a passionate patient community around your practice.

Social media IS media today. Use the power of social media tools to educate your patients, your community, and your peers. Look for our white paper later this month, Social Media, Healthcare & HIPAA: How the Web Is Changing the Culture of Medicine.

Your patients are talking – are you listening?