Written by Liz Boten, MGMA media relations and public affairs coordinator
More physician practices are turning to social media to share information as more patients visit these sites for health resources. Though both are heading online in droves, it’s important to carefully plan your social media presence and dedicate the proper amount of time to cultivate relationships with your followers.
Before hopping online, get clear direction and answers to frequently asked questions from two member groups already engaging successfully with their communities using Facebook. Primary Health Medical Group in Boise, Idaho, and Randolph Cancer Center in Asheboro, N.C., joined Facebook a few years ago and now each has more than 1,000 followers.
What’s the best way to get started on Facebook?
“Dip your toe in somewhere,” suggests Kathy Winn, MGMA member, former director of marketing, Primary Health Medical Group. Whether it’s a blog, Twitter account, or Facebook page, “get started with one item and do it well, and then add another.”
Winn advises members to keep things simple on Facebook. “You can’t create the [Facebook] page and then let it grow in its own direction,” she says. “It must be monitored closely. Don’t have an ‘if we build it, they will come’ attitude. If you want fans and want them to be engaged, give them a reason.”
What are the risks to participating in social media?
Social media is not intended as a vehicle for discussions of personal health issues between patients and physicians. To maintain the page, appoint a very small number of designees who are properly trained in navigating potential privacy and security issues.
How do I minimize the effects of a negative post?
Social media is designed to be interactive, and sometimes it becomes a venue to share negative experiences or criticisms. Experts suggest viewing these posts as opportunities for service recovery. Sincerely respond, just as you would if the patient were in the office. They may recall your personal interaction when determining where to schedule their next appointment.
What’s the value in being on social media?
The team at Randolph Cancer Center relishes the chance to interact with their followers on Facebook. “Simply reading the comments and responses from our patients, their families, and the community is worthwhile,” says Nicolas S. McNeill, MGMA member, practice manager.
Participating in social media takes considerable time and effort, so do your research before taking your practice online. And once you’re there, enjoy interacting with your community in another way. It’s a new avenue for sharing information and engaging with your audience outside the office walls.
Tell us—what do you “like” about being on Facebook or other social media channels?
To read more about Primary Health Medical Group and Randolph Cancer Center’s efforts on social media, read the July issue of MGMA Connexion magazine online.
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