Two practice challenges: Websites and social media

Physician practices need to pay attention to their websites and social media policies.

Patients aren't the only worry for medical practices these days. Two more challenges are creating a good practice website and adopting policies that address social media.

Your practice website can mean the difference between whether a prospective patient will choose your clinic or a competitor, writes Michael Woo-Ming, M.D., in Physicians Practice.

After working with hundreds of doctors and reviewing many websites, Woo-Ming, a family physician who also works as a consultant, said there are certain factors patients look for when evaluating practice sites.

For instance, he suggests that the “about us” description make it clear to patients why they should choose your practice. You want to separate yourself from the competition by describing your practice and what makes it different from others. Another tip: Post positive reviews and testimonials that you collect from patients. Video testimonials can be more powerful than written ones, he says.

Practices should also create two social media policies: One for material posted in your social media communications and another for employees who might mention work-related matters in their personal social media communications, writes Michael Sacopulos, J.D., founder and president of Medical Risk Institute, in a separate Physicians Practice article. Your policies must aim to protect patient privacy and avoid any HIPAA violations, he says.

Make it clear to employees that you are not trying to control their personal lives and your policy on social media only applies to work-related matters , he advises. Address concerns such as unacceptable online behavior, consequences for violating the policy and the technology it covers such as Facebook and Twitter.

Make sure all employees receive a copy of the policy and educate physicians and staff about the dos and don'ts of using social media.