How Providers & Patients Use Social Media [Infographic]

Social media helps bring people together. When it supports conversations that enhance doctor-patient relationships, that’s worth writing home about.

This week an infographic associated with a survey by Master of Health Administration degrees caught my attention. It illustrates the intersection between healthcare and social media, even the extent to which consumers trust doctors who share information via social media.

As expected, most healthcare-related conversations are about a worthy cause, or shared experiences. The infographic also indicates that 16% of conversations are reviews about doctors, treatments and medications, something I talked about in a previous post.

It’s very interesting to see a state-by-state breakdown, showing how hospitals and other healthcare brands use major social media platforms. For example Facebook marketing is used sparingly in the South except in Texas and Florida. New York, California, Florida and Texas represent the highest social media adaption rates among U.S. healthcare brands.

Of the top 5 healthcare centers that do social media right, I was surprised not to see Cleveland Clinic, which has almost 80,000 more Facebook fans than Mayo Clinic, and a ‘content hub‘ that was launched in March 2012, and one month later drew 16,000 visits without promotion.

Here are some more interesting statistics about healthcare and social media:

5 Content Marketing Tips to Reach Dis-Engaged Patients

Here’s something you don’t hear everyday – ‘Patient engagement is actually declining’.

According to a study by the Deloitte Center for Health Solutions:

  • One in three healthcare consumers are currently disengaged reporting less need for care, preventative action, interest in patient education resources, and financial preparation;
  • One in two follow a ‘passive patient’ approach relying on doctors for decisions, preferring standard care, and adhering to treatment;
  • Even those who are ‘online and onboard’ with innovative health technologies have increased only slightly from 15% in 2008 to 17% in 2012.

Not Interested

The biggest challenge providers face might be trying to engage patients who aren’t necessarily interested in engagement. Think about the online content consumption habits of a ‘typical patient’:

  • They don’t tend to seek healthcare information unless they or someone they love is sick.
  • They’re not the only decision-makers in the game. Often times family or other care-givers are in charge particularly in the case of minors, senior citizens and those who aren’t capable of making serious medical decisions.
  • Even if they can make decisions for themselves, sometimes patients don’t have the ‘mind-set’ to engage with online healthcare content due to stress brought about by their illness or condition.

So what can providers do to tackle this challenge? Here are five content marketing tips to reach disengaged patients:

#1. Abandon the ‘one-size-fits-all’ approach

Providers need to realize there is no one-size-fits-all when it comes to engaging patients with online content. They should take into account different pain-points, preferences and lifestyles and then create content that is targeted to those different segments. Which means they have to…

#2. Build Patient Personas

Building patient personas is a laborious exercise but the rewards are unbeatable. The insights and level of understanding that comes with developing personas not only helps you create relevant content, but also develops trust as patients come to rely on you for helpful information. By then they’re ready for…

#3.  More not less content

Providing more content can actually help to ‘reach’ those who are disengaged particularly when content is focused on lifestyle issues. People tend to have a high regard for their personal lifestyles and so this is often a good place to start engagement particularly with those who are disinterested or passive.

Encourage patients to improve their habits and change behaviors that could lead to a better quality of life. But remember that real engagement might require some innovation such as…

#4. Different content formats

A blog is not the only way to engage patients. In fact the ‘online and onboard’ segment of consumers in the Deloitte study said they want websites that provide reliable information (think of research and data-driven narratives); price and quality information; video conferencing with doctors; self-monitoring devices that could send information electronically to their doctor; and health-improving tracking apps. All this means that providers must…

#5 Understand patient information needs

Not only should they understand what kind of information patients need, providers should also attempt to understand how patients act upon it. This way they can leverage online content and social media to educate, inform, and advise patients about additional resources to help them on their wellness journey.

Your Turn:

What did I miss? What do you think is the best way to reach disengaged patients?