Does social media really improve the doctor-patient connection?

Social media (and internet in general) is transforming the way people find information and seek opinions from peers, leading them to make more informed decisions. Nowadays, if someone discovers a weird rash on their arm, there’s a high chance they’ll turn to online forums, WebMD, or seek advice from their peers on Facebook before talking to a medical professional. Has a patient ever come into your practice with a self diagnosis to their own symptoms? Most likely.  In the last decade, doctors undoubtedly experienced more patients coming into the clinic with prior “web research” of their symptoms. With access to information at their fingertips, patients want to be more involved in their treatment plans and not just blindly “take orders from the doctor.”  With people turning to the web and social media as their first source of answers, does having a presence on social media improve the doctor patient connection?

By being on social media, patients can feel closer to their physicians, improving the doctor patient connection. This can make patients feel like they can relate more to a physician, thus giving them more power over their treatment plan.  Additionally, social media is now a discoverability tool for patients to learn more about the clinic and how it has created its online presence. Dr. Bruce Hopper, a general practitioner, shares that he connects with patients outside his practice by sending them texts, social media messages, and video chats. In addition, he shares relatable healthcare information on his Facebook and Twitter pages. By having this relationship with his patients, it makes them feel like they have power over their treatment plan rather than just “taking the doctor’s orders.”

Social media can also be a great way to:

  1. Educate your current or potential patients (flu season shot reminders, back-to-school physicals, etc.)
  2. Share general practice reminders (holiday hours, weekend schedule, etc.)
  3. Give your practice more visibility
  4. Bring you closer to your patients by showing personality and genuineness

Doctors are already seeing the value of social media. A study shows that 70% of primary care physicians and oncologists use social media at least once a month to explore or contribute health information. Of course, doctors must be mindful of the information they share on social media, as patient-doctor confidentiality and HIPAA requirements still apply! For example, it’s never acceptable to give individual medical advice or publish information that can identify a patient on your social media pages. So, how can you speak with patients virtually while being mindful of HIPAA requirements and patient-doctor confidentiality?! Read on…

If a patient wants to speak virtually, you can always tell them to schedule a consultation with you through Sniffle. This telemedicine app is improving doctor patient connection by allowing doctors and patients to connect through a paid virtual consult, making it more efficient for both the doctor and patient. The Sniffle app is a great tool to treat more patients for minor ailments and bring more money into your practice (it’s free for doctors to use)! We (the Sniffle team) help reduce your paperwork and make scheduling easy through our system. It’s time to start connecting with your patients virtually. Create a Facebook page for your practice, sign up for Twitter, and download the Sniffle app today to improve your doctor patient connection!