Twitter Chats and Physician Practices

Now that your practice has Twitter and you’re comfortable with it, perhaps you’ll want to consider a live Twitter chat.

For practice managers promoting physician practice sites, this means a Twitter chat could be a great way for a physician at your practice to connect with potential patients about their areas of specialty. For instance, a physician specializing in sleep disorders could conduct a Twitter chat where she answers questions from participants about diagnostic procedures, sleep lab conditions and services, potential findings and common advice, clarifications about when it’s time to involve a sleep specialist, etc.

Here is what needs to be done to conduct a successful Twitter chat!

Before the event

Generate awareness. A week or so before your chat, generate awareness about it via Facebook and Twitter, by posting information around your office, via email to patients, and any other means you have of being in touch with patients and potential patients. Indicate a start and end time. Go short if nobody shows up, go long if the conversation is active and you’ve reached your end time. Just tweet something like, “Don’t leave! I’ll be available for another fifteen minutes or so. Keep this conversation going!”

During the event

Consider placing some participants in the chat with planned questions. That is, recruit a few of your office staff to start the conversation if participation starts out slowly. Arm them with questions (the physician can even know about them ahead of time) just to make others feel more comfortable about joining the chat and to give time to work out any Twitter chat jitters the physician may be feeling.

Postpone placed participants. Consider asking your pre-arranged participants to wait and see if the conversation starts on its own. If it does, forego your planned content and go with what’s happening on its own. The only point to staging participants would be to get the conversation going and if it happens on its own, you don’t need the prepared content for this chat….repurpose it for some upcoming Facebook posts or Tweets!

Appoint a chat assistant. The assistant helps the physician know how much time they have left, how to use the chat functionality in Twitter, and other duties as assigned. The assistant and physician should meet ahead of time to decide who does what. Chats aren’t difficult to conduct alone, so after a physician is comfortable, they may not need a chat assistant anymore.

After the event

Draw attention to chat content. Have Facebook posts and Tweets link to the archived version (a transcript) of the Twitter chat.

What to tweet about

Consider some of these ideas. We offer the broad topics as ideas for the first tweet chats conducted by physicians and practices – when there may be fewer participants. If you’ve enjoyed lots of participants in previous chats or feedback from your awareness activity indicates you’ll have lots of participants even at your first chat, you might want to consider a more specific topic from our list just so the conversation more directly covers what the audience wants to know about.

  Broad Topic Starting point Specific Topic Starting point
  Pregnancy Let’s talk pregnancy. What specific things do you want to know more about? #withchild

 

Standard procedures and tests during pregnancy – one test per chat?

 

 

Hi. Dr. Smith here. Let’s talk gestational diabetes. What should we discuss first? #gestational
  Sleep study We study your sleep so we can help you sleep better. What can we tell you about how we do it? #sleeprocks

 

Diagnosis sleep apnea. Now what? Sleep apnea impacts millions. What should we discuss first about it? #theapneaclub
  Childhood diseases Want to know how to prevent or treat or manage? Let’s talk.

#thegermskidsget

All about Strep. Strep is everywhere in the fall. What can we learn from each other about it? #strepstinks

 

A Twitter chat is a great way to connect with your patients and to really show them that you care. During the chat you will be able to answer general questions that your patients are having, saving them and you time in the waiting room. If you are interested in conducting a Twitter chat and would like further assistance contact Josephine.durbin@hcahealthcare.com.

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