Confession #6: The physicians at my practice ask me who will follow our blog or tweets or Facebook posts and I’m not sure how to answer.
The ehc.com team told me they could drone on about the number of Facebook, WordPress and Twitter users, because the evidence of an undeniable interest in social media is there. But, they decided it’d be a better use of our time if they gave me some specific user scenarios that they see happening for other practices – the same types of users and uses that could happen for my practice’s social media outlets.
Physician finders. They need a physician and their insurance company tells them who they can go to based on their coverage. On that list, there may be three choices or thirty-three. In any day or age, they would’ve learned the physician’s location, they would’ve polled friends to learn something about their experiences with that physician, they might ask the practice manager to provide a list of patient references – all of this in an effort to help rule out a physician or help them decide to choose one. Social media is where many, many turn now to learn what their friends and others think about everything from dishwasher parts to vacation destinations, so they’re getting information about healthcare providers there, too. The bottom line is: Researching a physician to find the one that suits you best isn’t new, but the means of researching are. And those means are faster and more thorough than ever.
Do it yourselfers. Without social media, they must call to find out your regular hours, holiday hours, flu clinic dates, or the like. With social media, they can learn these details on Facebook or Twitter where they’re going for information about other things they care about, too. By finding their own answers via platforms they’ve already decided to use, they are satisfied and they save you a few calls in the process!
Double checkers. Their mom or dad or aunt is really your patient, but they want to know something about you and your reputation compared to other physicians like you. These are people who use social media to check out tutors and golf coaches, movie reviews and product ratings, so using social media tools are as common to them as the Yellow Pages and word of mouth once were to others.
Youngsters and youngsters at heart. They don’t remember life without these social media and other online tools, so they assume they’ll find the information they’re looking for online regardless of what they need to know. If you’re not sure, just ask any fourteen to twenty year old how they would choose a hairstylist or exterminator or real estate agent. You will not find one that says they would use the Yellow Pages. And, sooner or later, these very youngsters are as potentially patients as anybody. And, the latest data on social media users indicates the segment of the population that’s attracting the most new users is those with gray hair and bifocals, not skateboards and piercings.
Like it or not, social media tools in some form or fashion are here to stay. Makes you want to remember what else we might’ve been skeptical about at first that eventually became something people don’t want to live without. Power steering? Remote controls? Microwaves? Cell phones?