For most professionals, social media has now become the norm through which we can communicate, learn, promote, and begin or end conversations with people we may or may not even know. The medical profession is no different. Many doctors now choosing to voice their opinions on twitter, creating You Tube videos discussing the latest breakthrough treatments or diagnostic testing they are now using. This of course is a two-way dialog with people whom the doctors hope will become future patients. There is of course some do’s and don’t to how you may want to utilize social media, especially in the HIPAA compliant world we all now live in.
First, you’ll want to start with a goal or a reason as to why you want to put your good name out there onto the various social media platforms. are you trying to inform the population while creating a brand or name for yourself and your practice. Or, are you directly trying to gain local exposure with the hopes of local residents seeing your profile, your expertise, and picking up the phone to call for an appointment. Whatever the case is, you always need to start with thinking about your goals.
If you are a sole practitioner, and you call your own shots, then the “laws” may be different than if you are simply a voice of a larger more complex medical organization. Most organizations should already have some best practices in place, so be sure to brush-up on those in case there may be some limiting factors as to what you are or are not allowed to post or speak about. On platforms like Face Bbook or Twitter where one to one communication in with an audience of “everyone”, you’ll need to be particularly careful about any “advice” or information you give in response to questions or comments. HIPAA is sure to be watching when you least expect it to be.
Finally, remember that social media platforms are different as they are numerous. So be sure that you seek out guidance from a seasoned or practiced social media guide in order to help you figure out what types of messaging or commentary should be placed on each platform. Don’t be afraid to dig into the psychology of why people are on Twitter, versus Face Book or Youtube. Or why they are participating in a “disease” specific group forum, vs a segment of Instagram users. Treat this as a traditional marketing methodology even if the platforms are anything but traditional.