Social Media: Where’s The Pay-Off?

In a 2012 consumer survey, 61 percent of respondents said they were likely to trust information posted via social media from physicians over hospitals, health insurers, and drug companies. This “social currency” has value physicians can use to enhance their reputation and promote their practice among consumers.

Yes, it takes time to be engaged in the world of social media. And true, you may not see a direct return on investment for the time spent (just like you don’t for giving a talk to a community group). And, yes, there are risks, if you are careless. These may be among your concerns if you are thinking about putting yourself and your practice “out there” in the world of social media, 

However, there are compelling reasons to define your practice’s digital identity now, in the nascent stages of value-based payment, where your patients’ adherence to your treatment may influence how much you get paid.

Among other reasons, the survey by PwC Health Research Institute noted that consumers are increasingly using information from social media when making health care choices. “For example, 45 [percent] of consumers said it would affect their decision to seek a second opinion. More than 40 [percent] of respondents reported that information found via social media would affect the way they coped with a chronic condition, their approach to diet and exercise, and even their selection of a specific doctor,” the survey report said. Shouldn’t that information come from a physician like you?

The benefits of your participation in social media can work in the other direction, too. California physician Deanna Attai, MD, told Oncology Business Management that co-moderating a Twitter forum on breast cancer made her a better doctor, because it “changed the way I listen. It’s changed the way I ask questions” by exposing her to a range of patient experience that was not available to her by seeing patients for 15 minutes at a time.

You might, in fact, find that your digital presence pays off directly, too. Russell Faust, MD, a Michigan pediatric otolaryngologist, started a blog because he wanted to share sound medical information. “After a year, I found that between 30 to 50 percent of my new patients were getting to me because of my digital brand. This crazy notion nearly doubled my practice,” he says in Get Social: Put Your Practice on the Social Media Map by TMA’s Steve Levine and Debra Heater. 

“If you don’t begin at all … and drive that first mile on the social media highway, we guarantee you won’t reap any of the rewards,” add the authors of Get Social, a guide for social media novices. Read a free excerpt from Get Social through Oct. 31, 2015. 

Published Oct. 12, 2015

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December 09, 2016

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