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How important are social media in healthcare marketing?

Today, around 3.3 billion people , or half of the world's population, are active on social media . This undoubtedly means that any healthcare marketing professional cannot ignore considering social media as a winning weapon. Health marketing strategies and techniques are based in part on years of research focused on concrete data and aimed at meeting the health needs of many people. Lately the role of social media in medical marketing has become essential, to the point of being used by any successful brand worldwide.

The healthcare industry can no longer ignore the world of social media to engage new patients and retain old ones. The Social Media Marketing involves its users via sites like Facebook, Twitter, Google+, Instagram and Twitter , showing everyone that your brand has an active online presence on which to count and where have faith.

A study shows that 57% of people seeking medical treatment decide where to go based on a doctor's social media presence, while 60% of doctors believe that social networks improve the quality of care provided to their patients. You are wondering how all this is possible. Whether you are a physiotherapist, a gynecologist or a dentist, here are 6 ways to make the most of social media in healthcare marketing for physicians.

1. Communicate quickly worldwide via social media

According to a survey by the American Society of Transplant Surgeons, social platforms are increasingly used for communication in surgery to the point of becoming effective tools in organ transplants . During the survey, an interview was conducted with 299 members of the American Society of Transplant Surgeons about their use, attitude and perception of social media.

Respondents said they used social media in healthcare to communicate with:

  • Family and friends (76%);
  • Surgeons (59%);
  • Transplant professionals (57%);
  • Transplant recipients (21%);
  • Living donors (16%);
  • Waiting list candidates (15%).

Not only that, 83% of respondents said they use social media for at least a medical purpose, while 61% shared information with transplant recipients thanks to social media.

2. Use Twitter to transmit medical knowledge also in real time

Unlike traditional blogs , microblogs allow for extremely rapid sharing of information. The microblogging sites, the most famous of which is Twitter , have brought together established surgeons and trainees, who through short and incisive tweets, kick off many discussions. Several doctors and surgeons have relied on Twitter to disseminate their medical findings , including videos, magazine articles, research and more. Many interact with fellow colleagues on Twitter, many others interact with patients and students.

The most loved feature of Twitter by doctors is retweeting : this sharing of material creates a river of interconnections which are the best medical marketing strategy to reach more people. Surgical conferences have also recently turned to Twitter to broaden their audience, using hashtags (#)  to bring together a virtual research team. For example, the Annals of Surgery recently published some visual abstracts on Twitter to summarize important results obtained during the last meeting. Access to these abstracts is made possible to anyone by searching for the handle or hashtag related to the search such as #visualabstract or @JSurgEduc (Journal of Surgical Education).

3. Grow a project with social media

The #colorectalsurgery movement , born a year ago by a group of colorectal surgeons, is gaining more and more fame thanks to social media and its presence on the web. In the first 10 weeks of its launch, the hashtag has produced over 5,200 tweets from 823 users worldwide , with nearly 17 million views .

Not only that, through this hashtag, several Twitter users have been able to add and enjoy intertwined information related to the field of colorectal surgery without having to search many different sites. A recent reading of this phenomenon, conducted by Wexner, underlined its potential in surgical education , hoping for an ever greater development of online discussions and journal clubs.

4. Use Web 2.0 to share online medical videos and podcasts

In 2011, US hospitals already had 1,068 Facebook pages, 8,154 Twitter accounts, 566 LinkedIn accounts, 575 YouTube channels and 149 blogs . Over the years these numbers have grown exponentially and, in particular, video channels have become very important teaching tools for surgeons. Sites like YouTube , which has over 1 billion users, allow users to search for and view medical videos that show experiences in the field. Considering that over half of YouTube views come from mobile devices, these videos are very often shared on other social networks, such as Facebook, Twitter or Google + (the latter now closed) .

In the field of surgery, the Advances In Surgery channel ( aischannel.com ) and other surgical educational websites such as giblib.com, weBSurg ( www.websurg.com ), have gained considerable prestige within the medical community. These new forms of interactive collaboration allow an exchange of skills in virtual classrooms where specialization courses, live surgery, conferences and video procedures performed by experts are performed.

Likewise podcasts , a form of web radio, have quickly gained ground in healthcare marketing . On the web and social media you can find several lesson files and excellent resources for trainees and experienced surgeons. In the wake of this success, some magazines - such as the Diseases of the Colon & Rectum and the New England Journal of Medicine - have also started podcasts to increase distribution and exposure to the contents related to the newspaper, but above all to improve their presence on social media .


5. Watch and perform live procedures as a medical marketing strategy

Although live social media webcasts about surgery aren't new, Houston's Memorial Hermann Hospital unleashed the Twitter people this February 20, showing the people of the web cesarean delivery for the birth of a baby and reaching 87,500. people .

The action live streaming on Twitter are now very common since in 2009 the hospital Henry Ford in Detroit performed the first experiment in real time on Twitter: a tumor removal with robotic instruments, that made the web go crazy. Many doctors have sensed the educational and promotional potential of these online procedures for both industry experts and patients. Our audience, in fact, will increasingly feel part of a project in which they can "see us clearly" , so much so that they can almost be in the office with the doctor or in the operating room with the surgeon .

6. Provide accurate and detailed information with apps and forums

Private or public groups on social networking sites are often used as forums where discussions for all grades of medical knowledge flare up. These groups and forums can become a valuable aid tool for those seeking medical advice and a useful business card for retaining new patients . Often people tend to ask Google for some of their ills, even before their doctor. This is why it is essential to be present on online forums and social media to discuss the issues in which you specialize.

In addition to the use of social networks, the use of mobile applications is also growing exponentially, to the point that, according to Statista.com, in June 2016 the Google Play Store already had 2.2 million apps , while the Apple App Store it had 2 billion . Among these, there are many apps aimed at teaching surgical trainees some important procedures.

An example is the Touchsurgery app , designed as a precise virtual simulation tool, whose motto is "Practice surgery anytime and anywhere" . This app is available in 226 countries with over 1 million users, 50 surgical proceduresand the ability to connect to forums where doctors from all over the world participate.

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