Can social media really boost patient engagement?

Can social media really boost patient engagement
By Tristan Morris


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.

Want to find out more?

Download the complete guide to digital marketing for healthcare here. We cover key strategies for social media, PPC, and SEO, as well as best practices for each. 

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