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Should Doctors Use Social Media to Attract Patients?

You “like” the local ice cream parlor, your favorite brand of shoes, and a nearby concert venue. You like your friend’s graphic design business and your favorite vacation spot. You like… your primary care physician? More doctors are getting online and interacting with people through social media. If you’re a doctor, using a public forum to communicate with patients or potential patients seems a little unorthodox – because it definitely is. But should doctors be using social media to attract patients?

Privacy Concerns

The biggest concern about doctors on social media is privacy. Privacy and patient confidentiality aren’t only good practices for doctors, they’re legal requirements. Just because you have a Facebook page for your practice doesn’t mean you’re going to start discussing your patient’s recent bout with the stomach flu on their wall, or posting statuses like, “Just finished Mary’s annual physical. Congratulations on a perfect bill of health!” It can, however, still make patients uneasy about your commitment to privacy when you’re involved in something that’s inherently public.

Recruiting Patients

For many businesses, social media allows them to show off their expertise and boost their credibility. The more friends they have, for example, the better they look to other potential customers. Can the same logic apply to doctors? Yes, it can. It is possible for doctors to run a popular Facebook page that helps establish them as a reliable expert in their field. If doctors spend the majority of their time online posting health-related information and articles that are helpful to people, it can work. On the other hand, some potential patients may be unimpressed with your commitment to social media. It takes time, and doctors are usually so busy. They might be wondering, “Why are you wasting your time on Facebook when you have patients to help? Do you even have any patients?”

Reviews and Recommendations

There are many sites that allow people to research doctors in their area or a certain field and read reviews written by other patients. Sites like RateMDs.com and Vitals.com are often investigated by potential patients before they call to schedule an appointment. If doctors do anything online, it should be to monitor their reputation. A poor rating or scathing review can do a lot more harm than anything else, and having an active social media presence won’t do much to negate it. If anything, doctors need to respond to these reviews and show their commitment to their practice.

Spending Time

When businesses begin using social media for marketing, they quickly find that it’s not as easy or quick as they thought it might be. It’s something that requires careful planning and constant attention. If you truly don’t have a lot of extra time, you’re better off staying away altogether because social media isn’t something you can do half-heartedly. If you already have a busy practice, what’s the point, anyway? Before you begin testing the waters of social media, carefully consider the pros and cons so you can make the best decision on how to spend your free time.

This and many other educational articles helping web professionals understand the challenges of the web and how to promote business concepts online have been prepared for you by Travis Lee thanks to SEOMap – the keyword strategy experts.

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  • http://www.soselectronics.com soselectronics

    It seems doctors have many things to consider before having a facebook page for their business. Perhaps they would be better served with a personal page where they can reach their clients if they choose, or update only as often as they choose.