Tweeting Do’s & Dont’s For Small Medical Practices

Social-Media-in-HealthcareTweeting Information and Connecting to Your Community

According to statistics released by the Twitter CEO in the last quarter of 2012, there are more than 200 million people who use the social media website on a regular basis. If you’re trying to figure out how your small medical practice can better connect with patients, it makes sense why Twitter could be your answer. Read below to discover a few pointers that’ll help you succeed.

Do Utilize Twitter to Answer Patient Questions

During days when you’re short staffed and patient needs are high, it may seem difficult to set appointments, let alone answer generalized questions from curious patients. Twitter can be a great help, because it allows you to concisely respond to your entire audience at once. You can invite people to submit questions throughout the day and spend a few minutes addressing the most pressing ones after office hours, or during slow periods.

Don’t Give Access to Too Many Staff Members

Twitter posts are limited to 140 characters, so it’s essential to get your point across quickly and consistently. Because it’s so important for your online voice to match patient marketing goals, avoid having several people post on the Twitter account. Although that technique can offer variety, it can also dilute the strength of your message, and even distribute conflicting information.

Do Offer to Let Physicians Get Involved

You may be under the impression that doctors have enough to handle just by seeing patients, so Twitter engagement should be a task that’s limited to your administrative staff members. That may be true, but some healthcare providers are more than willing to take direct responsibility for posting tweets throughout the day.

To let all your physicians share in the activity, consider using a rotating schedule where one doctor takes his or her views to the online platform per week. Then, allow a secretary or physician’s assistant to quickly proofread each contribution to ensure accuracy and a cohesive voice.

Don’t Violate Patient Privacy

You may have developed an ironclad system to protect patient privacy in your medical office, but make sure it doesn’t get compromised once you reach out to people online. As mentioned in an article from Becker’s Medical Review, researchers looked at more than 200 Twitter accounts used by physicians and medical students and reviewed over 13,000 tweets. Results published in the British Medical Journal found that 15 users posted a total of 26 tweets that contained patient information that potentially violated privacy.

Keeping privacy in mind is especially important when you’re answering patient questions as detailed in this article’s first suggestion. When in doubt, always answer in a generalized way, even if you’re doing so for the benefit of a specific person.

Do Reach Out to Other Healthcare Practitioners

No list of Twitter tips for medical offices would be complete without a reminder to connect with other offices in your community or region. By re-tweeting each other’s posts you can more efficiently get the word out about drug recalls, easy ways to live better, and educational articles. As your relationship grows, you may also find it worthwhile to connect with nearby offices in person and hold health promotion events for potential patients as a way to boost awareness.

In closing, it’s important to remember that as valuable as Twitter can be, it might become very time-consuming, too. Make it work to your advantage by choosing to only post things that add value to your overall mission as a medical practice.

About the Author: Michelle Rebecca is a health writer who currently freelances for a rehabilitation center that provides treatment for methadone addiction. Follow her on Google+.