Here are the Top-5 essential Rules – the 5-C’s – for physicians and healthcare systems that are just now entering the digital world – HealthCare Social Media – HCSM. As our healthcare systems move toward branding our hospitals and medical practices, it is crucial that we are clear about our business objectives. We must clarify our objectives; we must connect with our communities; we must provide valuable content. Read this article to learn the rest of the “5-C’s” for Healthcare Systems, and how to achieve them for your healthcare brand! And if five rules aren’t enough for you, I highly recommend a blog post by Dr. John Mandrola, “Ten Simple Rules for Doctors on Social Media.” Although most of his writing is on cardiac electrophysiology, his main gig, he clearly gets the digital world beyond the heart. Also be sure to read Brand in Healthcare here.
There is currently a mad scramble for medical practices and health systems to “go digital.” But why are they entering the digital world? Some have no idea. Many are doing so in some misguided attempt to have a “social media presence.”
“We need to have a Facebook page, don’t we?”
Many have no idea what that means, and have not clarified their goals.
THAT should be the first C – Clarify the goals of the practice. A presence in the digital world – a digital healthcare brand – can have many potential benefits for a medical practice, with huge ROI, including improving operational efficiency (such as reduction of incoming calls to your Call Center for information), increasing revenue (such as increasing patient referrals), improving patient advocacy (such as establishing online support groups and information repositories), or simply improving your connection to your patient community.
You can connect with your patient community, connect with your referring physician community.
That leads us to the next C:
Connect – Use your digital presence to improve your connection with your patient community. If we are to believe recent polls by Pew Research, Deloitte Healthcare, and Google, 80% of your patients are “e-Patients”. That is, 80% of your patients find their healthcare information in the digital world.
They select their physicians and their hospitals based on brand in that digital world. Find out where your patients “live” in the digital world, and – this is key – be there. Have a presence there. Connect there. Be part of the conversation. What are they looking for? Provide it.
Be Consistent. It’s not enough to have a presence in the digital world. You must be there regularly. Connect on a regular basis. Don’t start a conversation and just leave it hanging. That would be rude, right?
That doesn’t mean you need to check your Facebook account every 15 minutes, but it does mean that if you send out a newsletter from your practice quarterly, or every 2 months, be consistent. Try to never miss that schedule. If you post an article update or “links of the week” on your practice website, keep to the schedule. Be consistent.
Also be sure that your healthcare brand is consistent across all platforms. By that, I mean that you must use the same logo, the same profile photos, the same color scheme, the same look and feel on your professional Facebook page that you use on your practice website, the same look and feel that you use on your printed material, or on any of your traditional marketing media. Anyone who encounters your brand anywhere, who has interacted with your brand anywhere else should immediately recognize it as your healthcare brand.
I am always amazed at the number of confused healthcare brands that I encounter, that use a different logo on their Facebook page than they use on their website, and different from their printed brochures. Don’t add to brand confusion. Be consistent. Make it easy for your fans to instantly recognize your brand anywhere they encounter you.
(4) DEMONSTRATE CRED
Credibility. Your brand must be viewed as professional, with excellent credentials in order to have “cred” in the digital world. You should display your credentials: list any articles you have authored on your website; list any interviews you have given for local, regional, or national organizations or journalists. Display “social proof” on your site: patient testimonials, number of followers on Twitter, or likes on Facebook; number of newsletter subscribers, even seminars that you are giving at the local public library. If you trained at some prestigious program, list those credentials too. Anything you have demonstrating that your brand is trustworthy and credible.
Content. In order to be the trusted, go-to brand for accurate healthcare information, you must provide accurate, valuable healthcare information in the digital world. You must provide answers to the questions that your patients (and prospective patients) are looking for. That means “content”.
You can produce that content yourself – most of us already have various informational handouts that we use in our clinics, or that we gather for our newsletters. Simply re-package that information for your website.
You can have someone else produce it – perhaps one of your partners is a gifted author or enjoys writing educational material for patients. You can pay someone else to produce it; there is a surplus of freelance healthcare writers. You can “curate” content that is produced by others; there are now software “platforms” that can help you filter, collect, and present articles from other sites.
Ideally, you will use a combination of all these content sources.
Regardless of how you get it, present it for your communities in the digital world, through your website, your newsletter (including email newsletter), your e-Books, or your “satellites” in the digital world – Facebook, blog, etc.
Calculate. Finally, based on your goals, consider what things you can measure to gauge the success of your healthcare brand. Metrics. That is, you want to be able to calculate the ROI – return on investment – from your efforts, whether that is from traditional marketing, or from branding in the digital world.
For example, if your goal for participating in social media is to increase patients in your practice, ask every incoming new patient how they got to your practice: Did they find you through an online search? Did they find you through your website? Through your practice’s Facebook page? Were they referred directly from their primary care physician? Easy questions to add to your intake form.
Use a landing-page URL to direct all traffic from any “satellite” sites (social media platforms such as Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest, Google-Plus, etc) so that you can track that traffic. That will allow you to quantify the number of people who come to your website through social media. Combined with other analytics metrics, you will know where your community “lives” in the digital world, and where your efforts are best invested. You don’t need to know how to do this. Get help from your web developer.
Start measuring before you develop your program. Keep track in order to estimate your ROI.
- Clarify your goals for participating: align with business goals for success.
- Connect with your patient community: participate where they “live” in the digital world.
- Be Consistent – in tone, and frequency.
- Establish Credibility: social proof.
- Rock your Content: answer their questions, add value.
- Calculate your ROI: monitor your brand, follow your metrics.
Please leave a comment:
- Are there any other “C’s” for HCSM that I missed?
- How are you implementing these Top 5 Rules in your practice?
- What is the best way to demonstrate your cred?
- What is the best way, and easiest way, to present content on your site?
- How else can you demonstrate that you are an authority, and the go-to source of accurate healthcare information?
- Let me know so that we can all learn together.
For help with optimizing your connection with your patient community – whether you are in solo practice, or a large healthcare system – contact me any time.
If you’re a physician and you are considering dangling your toe in the social stream, here is a quick guide to help you stay out of trouble, and to help you achieve your goals …
Free for your download here:
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