3 social media woes and how practices should handle them

Although social media can drastically improve practices' ability to communicate with patients and potential patients, some organizations continue to hold out in fear of privacy issues and other problems. No communication tool is perfect, but there are strategies to use them wisely. Consider these three common social-media fears and how experts recommend resolving them:

  1. Your accounts aren't gaining enough interest. If you're not achieving the engagement you want through your social media accounts, you may be trying to reach people with the wrong vehicle. Facebook may be beginning to fall out of favor with teens, noted a recent article from Medscape, but it reigns as a leading way to connect with their parents, who are now veteran users. Likewise, tailor your messaging via Twitter or Instagram to a younger crowd, according to advice from Physicians Practice.

  2. You worry patients will construe your page as giving medical advice. Insert a statement on your page that it is not a replacement for an evaluation by or conversation with a medical professional, Gregory Lawton, M.D., wrote in Medscape. "Also, make it clear that no patient- or health-specific matters will be discussed or should be asked or brought up," he added. 

    "Don't let patients engage you with specific medical questions," Reid Blackwelder, a Kingsport, Tennessee, family physician and president of the American Academy of Family Physicians, told Physicians Practice. "At that point you should pick up the phone and encourage them to come see you."

  3. You're concerned about negative comments being posted in public. "These ill-informed comments are (and have always been) made anyway, without our knowledge and out of earshot," noted Lawton. "They may even be posted on other Websites or on other information platforms. On Facebook, however, we have the chance to address and redress these comments (and if necessary or appropriate, remove them). We run the page for our practice. We control the content and tone."

To learn more:
- read the article from Medscape (registration required)
- read the article from Physicians Practice