Pros & Cons Of Social Media in The Healthcare Industry
Social Media In Healthcare
In recent years, social media has become an increasingly important part of daily life for people across the globe. As more and more online users start using social media platforms a growing number of industries have also begun to embrace the power of these tools.
The medical field is no exception, with healthcare organizations utilizing social media in a variety of ways for a host of reasons. From communicating with patients to promoting healthy living initiatives, social media offers a wealth of potential benefits for the healthcare industry.
While there are many benefits to using social media in healthcare, there are also several challenges that must be taken into account. Let’s discuss the advantages and disadvantages of social media in the healthcare industry.
Advantages of Social Media in Health Care
First, we take a look at some of the advantages of utilizing social media in the healthcare sector and how it may be used to strengthen the connection between patients and healthcare companies.
Improving Doctor-Patient Communication
When combined with other communication tools, social media can help healthcare organizations and patients establish better communication links. For example, in the past, if a patient had to reach out to their doctor outside of an appointment, they would have to wait until their next appointment.
However, social media has given patients the chance to learn about other ways to reach out and get in touch with their doctors in case of emergencies or after-office-hours questions.
When healthcare companies use social media to educate patients about using apps or portals like My Atrium Health to send messages to doctors they can increase downloads and improve doctor-patient communication.
Increasing Brand Trust And Promoting Health Initiatives
With nearly two billion active users on social media, platforms like Facebook and Twitter offer a unique opportunity to reach a large number of people with health-related messages. These messages/posts can serve to explain more about specific diseases, talk about the pros and cons of treatment options, and expand on methods for managing things like stress or diabetes at home between office visits.
In this way, healthcare companies can position their organization as a thought leader in the field while also becoming a trusted source of information for online users.
When organizations produce content that is helpful for online users and addresses their specific conditions this creates brand trust. With brand trust, you help guarantee that when a potential patient goes out to seek medical attention, they visit one of your locations since the brand trust has already been cultivated and established through social media publishing.
Raising Awareness With Hashtag Health Campaigns
When it comes to raising awareness, social media can be a powerful tool. For example, the Hashtag Health campaign used Twitter to raise awareness about different health topics, such as diabetes and mental health. These campaigns helped to reduce the stigma around mental health especially in the African American community while encouraging people to seek treatment.
The power of social media health awareness campaigns lies in their ability to reach a large number of people quickly and easily with helpful and relevant content that goes viral.
In the past, raising awareness about health issues was a slow and challenging process. But with social media, information that “feels” personalized can resonate with social users so much so that they share it instantly with their audience of followers.
Engaging With Patients Who Are Considering Your Services
With careful consideration, care, and respect for patient privacy, social media can easily be used to engage with potential patients who might benefit from your healthcare services. For example, you can respond to questions in posts or direct messages from likely patients who are in need of care by referring them to various linked resources on your website to make appointments or even contact management teams to resolve issues or concerns.
This type of engagement leads patients to take more action on your website and enables them to find the resources they are searching for using your organization’s systems.
Attracting The Best Talent In The Industry
According to the Harvard Business Review, social media is one of the most effective tools for recruiting top-tier healthcare talent. In a recent survey of over 2,000 HR professionals, nearly 60 percent of respondents said that they had used social media to successfully recruit candidates, and 73 percent said that social media was “somewhat” or “very” effective in attracting high-quality candidates.
In addition to its effectiveness, social media is also relatively cost-effective; the same survey found that the average cost per hire for social media-sourced candidates was $4,129, compared to $4,969 for traditional recruitment methods. For these reasons, social media is an increasingly popular tool for healthcare organizations looking to attract top talent.
Healthcare organizations may benefit considerably from incorporating a social media approach into their marketing practices since it has become an essential component of our daily lives. When used appropriately, social media can be an invaluable tool for healthcare organizations. It can be used to communicate with patients, provide education, and promote healthy behaviors.
Social media can also help healthcare organizations to build relationships with key stakeholders and the community. However, social media can also be used improperly.
If healthcare organizations do not use social media in a responsible and ethical manner, it can be ineffective and may even get the organization in trouble.
Disadvantages of Social Media in Healthcare
As with most things in life, there are advantages and disadvantages to social media for healthcare organizations. Let’s explore some ways that healthcare organizations might be at a disadvantage when it comes to using social media:
Patient Confidentiality Violations:
One of the potential disadvantages of social media in healthcare is the possibility of violating patient confidentiality. If a healthcare provider were to post information about a patient on social media without the patient’s consent, there is a risk that the patient could be identified, even if the information is anonymized. This could lead to legal repercussions for the healthcare provider.
To avoid such risks, it is important for healthcare providers to be aware of the potential consequences of posting information about patients on social media.
When in doubt, it is best to err on the side of caution and refrain from sharing any potentially identifying information about patients or their experiences on social media.
Another significant disadvantage of social media is the risk of spreading misinformation whether intentionally or unintentionally.
Because anyone can post anything on social media, there is a risk that inaccurate or even dangerous health information could be shared widely if there is not a solid plan in place for reviewing posts before publishing. For example, a lack of information on the Internet about vitamins might create a perfect storm in which consumers may believe they are taking the supplements they need when they aren’t. This is a tiny micro-example, but with that in mind, healthcare professionals must be especially careful about these potential risks and take steps to protect their patients.
Interfering with the Doctor-patient Relationship:
Social media platforms may offer a quick and convenient way for physicians to communicate with their patients, but healthcare organizations should never allow this type of communication.
These platforms are frequently the target of hacking attempts, and even when they are not hacked, there is always the potential for security vulnerabilities. For example, a patient’s confidential medical information could be leaked if a platform is breached.
Additionally, social media platforms are not subject to the same privacy laws as traditional forms of communication like email or phone calls.
As a result, healthcare organizations could be held liable if a patient’s private information is shared without their consent. Therefore, it is essential that healthcare organizations prohibit their physicians from communicating with patients over social media.
While there are several disadvantages to social media in healthcare, it may be a highly successful endeavor if utilized correctly.
When used correctly, social media initiatives may increase communication, marketing activities, and even patient care. Healthcare organizations would seek to ensure that their marketing team members are fully informed about the potential drawbacks and take necessary precautions.
To ensure that the benefits outweigh the negatives, best practices for utilizing social media in healthcare should be followed.