You can’t avoid hearing about social media statistics. Whether they’re good (people using social media to support their health goals) or bad (people distracted while driving) it’s hard to miss the latest stats, including this one: the Pew Research Center found that 72 percent of U.S. adults used social media sites last year.
As physicians, that means that almost three-fourths of your patients are on social media. Are you missing out by not joining the social media bandwagon? If you’re thinking about doing so but aren’t sure how, there are sessions that cover social media and medicine at ACC.14. To learn about the why, read on for five good reasons to use social media.
Connect with Patients. Let’s think about some more numbers. In addition to almost three-fourths of American adults using social media, healthcare statistics from the CDC indicate that for Americans over the age of 20:
- 35 percent are obese with another 35 percent overweight
- Nearly 32 percent have hypertension
- 11 percent have been diagnosed with heart disease
Put those together and it is clear how beneficial it is for Americans to have helpful, reliable cardiology information reach them via social media platforms.
Furthermore, communication is critical to building a trusting, connected relationship. You might see patients in your office once or twice a year. Social media gives you an opportunity to build on that relationship by communicating with patients the rest of the year.
Improve Patient Health. Now that you’ve connected with your patients you can think about your mission and presence. Whether your goal is to motivate the patients who follow you to come in for checkups, lose weight, exercise, or eat healthfully—it’s up to you. But you’ll miss out on this opportunity if you stay disconnected. There are strategies you can adopt when it comes to passing along helpful information. One easy strategy is to share and retweet valuable cardiology information you spot online. If you see a statistic about women not recognizing the signs of stroke you might choose to pass that along, including a link to what the warning signs are.
Connect with Peers. Social media not only allows you to connect with patients, but it can also be used to support your professional wellness. In your busy day-to-day workflow, it can be hard to find the time to connect with other physicians. That’s one reason we love ACC.14—the event combines excellent cardiology information while creating and reaffirming professional relationships. Make sure you don’t lose touch with that support system once the conference is over.
In Greg Matthews’ blog posted on KevinMD.com, he says that more than one-third of the 1,400 doctors he analyzed on Twitter are followed by at least 20 other doctors in the database. Social media gives you a simple vehicle for asking questions and getting feedback via online conversations.
Follow the Leaders. Social media helps you stay in the know when it comes to the latest news, whether it’s about cardiology solutions, overall health, or other factors that might affect your patients or your practice. Following leaders in your field and other related areas can be valuable. When you’re busy and short on time, reading short updates on Linkedin, Facebook or other platforms can be a quick, easy way to get information. You can always bookmark items you want to read more about for later.
Become an Influencer. When you have a following on social media, you have an amplified voice and the ability to ask your audience for help. For example, is there legislation under discussion that would be detrimental to patient health? You can urge your followers to make their opinions known to lawmakers. Was a new study about heart health just published? Start a discussion about its ramifications and how it might influence your practice.
We realize that social media can be daunting at first, especially when your life is already busy. But in Matthews’ blog, he found that physicians who are on Twitter use the social media tool very effectively. “[I]nnovative physicians are leveraging social media tools like Twitter to improve the health of their patients, to grow their practices, to connect with their peers, and to create a platform for influencing the future of healthcare,” says Matthews. Those are compelling reasons to overcome your hesitation and connect with others on social media.
Look for us at ACC.14 at Booth #1128, where we’ll be showcasing our cardiology software—it’s a great chance to check out the McKesson Cardiology™ CVIS in person. See you there!