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January 13, 2021

Category: Medical Careers, Physicians

IN A NUTSHELL:

  • Social media is a means of promoting one’s professional visibility
  • Can be used to leverage success in addition to podcasts, publishing books
  • Helps to improve patient trust by establishing personal connection

When we think of how the internet helps professionals to promote themselves, we don’t often consider those in the medical profession.

Yet it becomes clear that in recent years doctors and other health care professionals are finding lots of creative ways to expand their brands and businesses, spread helpful information, and build trust online. They’re finding ways to post analyses and opinion pieces on accessible platforms like Medium. They are self-publishing books relevant to their practices and appearing on popular medical podcasts where they can speak directly to audiences that are often quite large.

All of these strategies can help doctors improve visibility, spread knowledge, improve their reputations, and expand their practices. In addition, there are also various ways in which doctors can leverage the power of social media to enjoy similar benefits.

Improving Trust Through Direct Engagement

Most of us tend to think of doctors as trustworthy people. We know that they’re educated and professional and we go to them specifically because they understand and act on things that we can’t necessarily handle ourselves. Despite this, the subject of trust with respect to medical professionals is actually a more important one than it gets credit for.

For one thing, university psychology department studies on confidence in doctors have shown definitively that people who trust their doctors tend to feel better on average. These studies have “bolstered the demand for relationships of trust in clinical environments,” and by contrast there is also clear evidence that where such trust doesn’t exist, patients can be more hesitant to seek care — or less likely to receive it.

The trust issue in medicine can be improved upon in various ways.

For the purposes of this discussion, we focus on the benefits of a doctor engaging with patients (or potential patients) over social media. This type of personal connection helps to build trust, which is essentially proven to lead to more effective doctor-patient relationships.

Establishing an Expert Reputation

On a somewhat similar note to that of improving trust, doctors can also leverage social media to establish their own expertise — either on specific subjects or in medicine more generally. Through any of a number of social media platforms, doctors now have the ability to share their thoughts on medical developments, discuss their areas of focus, post studies or analyses, and even hold public discussions with other doctors. Over time, this kind of activity begins to build up in such a way that the doctor’s breadth of knowledge shows through. Such active engagement with medical subjects inevitably establishes an area of expertise.

Promoting Visibility

Posting on social media is a means of promoting one’s visibility as a professional. However, by going above and beyond by embracing data, research, and SEO tactics, doctors can also leverage social media in a way that specifically enhances their platforms among relevant audiences. Granted, this is not a strategy most doctors are equipped to do on their own. However, by either hiring or contracting data and SEO experts, they can significantly grow their practice.

This is a tactic we’re seeing professionals across a range of industries adopt, particularly given the surge in education and opportunity for data professionals. The growing emphasis on analytics has led many working professionals to pursue online classes and degrees in order to establish expertise in the field. Accordingly, projected job growth for those with an online masters in data analytics or similar fields of study is off the charts — including an anticipated 18 percent leap in job opportunities in market research between 2019 and 2029.

What this means is that there is a deep pool of experienced and educated data experts for doctors to draw from in establishing a real strategy for social media use. Input on market research and engagement tactics can help a doctor learn how to find potential patients, establish a target audience, and generate content that will drive attention. Through these efforts an entire practice can be grown or expanded via social media.

Reducing Appointments (and Serving More Patients)

As noted in another piece on doctors’ use of social media, there can also be a practical and direct benefit—in that doctors can actually reduce face-to-face appointments this way. This is not a suggestion that patients who need in-person visits should have to turn to online interaction instead. But by engaging with patients digitally, physicians can answer questions, address simple issues, and offer advice without necessarily having to schedule everyone for an appointment. This ultimately means more patients can be assisted with ease and in a shorter amount of time. As the use of telehealth continues to surge and health care providers are finding new ways to improve the telehealth experience, social media is one more tool in their toolbag to connect with their patients.

In all of these ways, social media is becoming a powerful tool for doctors as well as one that can help bring about better patient care.

Article prepared by: JBrandon, exclusively for intivahealth.com

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