Opinion

Can social media really boost patient engagement?

Alexandra Martin

,

14.12.2020

Can social media really boost patient engagement?

In a world where people are more likely to own a smartphone than a toothbrush, it’s essential that every brand is present in the digital landscape. For healthcare, engaging with patients digitally is rapidly becoming the norm, and there’s a fast way to make sure that you’re bolstering communication, reputation, and providing information – social media.

Social media as a method of communication

As social media primarily exists as a way to communicate with peers, boosting communication with your brand seems like a no-brainer. Having a social media strategy, or even a social media manager, on board means that your organisation is readily available when patients need help, rather than having to navigate convoluted phone solutions. Social platforms like Twitter or Facebook offer live chat functionality, offering a fast, easy way to get answers, vital in a time where the most common source of complaints is difficulty getting in touch.

Equally, the role of social media in educating patients can’t be understated. Doctor / patient interactions over social media isn’t necessarily appropriate, but by providing reputable sources of information to your followers, you can remind patients to ask questions, help them to understand more about conditions, and keep them up-to-date with recent developments in your industry. Most importantly, you can fact-check incorrect statements, and direct interested users to the appropriate secure and relevant communication channels.

Boosting patient satisfaction

Across the board, patients want the same thing – to take control of their own healthcare. The presence that healthcare brands have on social media directly impacts this, by involving patients in important discussions, providing health tips and building a network of peers. Patients feel empowered when they are able to communicate effectively, not only with their healthcare provider, but with a network of people supporting each other towards better health. This is invaluable for patients that may have difficulty travelling, or are based in remote locations – the power of social media means that they can stay connected, digitally.

Providing a reliable source of education

Having a social media presence also has the promise of improving health literacy and patient education. In the UK, 45% of people get their news from social media, and as platforms are open and free to any information, there can be plenty of incorrect advice or misleading statements that gain traction. As a healthcare organisation, your posts are likely to be seen by a large audience – meaning that you can inform massive amounts of true, reliable healthcare information to your customer base and beyond.

More than 80% of patients are online, utilising search, social media and content hubs to get more healthcare information. Further than this, social media is rapidly becoming the way that groups of people get fast, up to date information. In the healthcare industry, social groups that are focused on a specific condition or treatment routinely share new updates and developments – it’s essential that as a healthcare business, you are infiltrating these groups and providing useful, relevant content. Social media has also become a huge asset for healthcare throughout the coronavirus pandemic – even the UK government have been broadcasting updates about the virus over Facebook Live.

Going forward, healthcare providers need to learn more about the platforms that enable them to engage with patients, and how to go about using these platforms to drive engagement, further brand positioning and boost relationships across the board. Social media isn’t just a way to share company updates – it’s a way to get your audience consistently engaging with your brand, sharing it to friends and peers, and a vital opportunity to ensure that reliable, truthful information is being shared, from a reputable source.

Never before have we been presented with such an opportunity. Harnessing the power of social media allows us to:

·        Find specific audiences in a digital environment

·        Engage with audiences in a way that they are accustomed to, providing relevant information

·        Utilise fast-paced social platforms to speak to audiences when appropriate to them

All of this works together to streamline a patient’s journey, build your reputation, and ultimately boost your following. Without social media, you could be missing out on a large chunk of your potential network – don’t let them slip away.


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