social media for medical practicesIncreasing patient engagement is vital for improving patient outcomes and maintaining a financially prosperous medical practice. It’s so important that The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services made it part of their EHR meaningful use requirements.

There are many ways doctors and their medical staff can improve patient engagement, not the least of which is to embrace current technologies, even ones that may seem better left to personal use.

Social media isn’t just for kids who like to share selfies or people keeping up with their loved ones who live across the country. It’s a powerful marketing tool for most businesses. In the case of medical practices, it’s a great way to engage your patients.

Theses days, everyone’s online presence plays a major role in how successful their business is. While the approach may be slightly different for medical practices, it’s still important to be mindful of your online presence.

Some medical practices may hesitate to integrate social media into their web presence, or simply don’t know where to start. There may even be a concern about HIPAA compliance and how patient rights might be violated through the various social channels. The good news is that, with a well-planned approach, these fears are easy to overcome.

The Internet has permeated nearly every aspect of our lives, including how we interact with our health care providers. According to a recent survey by Nuance, about 40 percent of patients check online before visiting a doctor. Here are just a few, but powerful, ways you can use social media to better engage with your patients:

Monitor patient sentiment. Social media is more than a promotional tool. You can monitor social channels to see what, if anything, patients are saying about your practice. If you come across a dissatisfied patient, it gives your staff the opportunity to not only quickly address their concerns, but keep tabs on any potentially negative trends in patient satisfaction, and come up with solutions to improve your services. On the flip side, if you see rave reviews of your practice, you can make an effort to reinforce those positive actions.

Mold your practice’s public image. Do you want to be perceived simply as a reliable medical provider, or are you open to creating a fun personality for your practice that is warm and inviting? You can come up with a social media strategy that projects the public image you want for your practice.

Promote important health content. Social media is a great way to promote content. In the case of medical practices, you can share valuable health care news and personal health tips. It’s a great way to show your patients that you care, and to keep them informed about issues that impact their care.

You can put as little or as much effort you want into your social media strategy. But totally ignoring it is a missed opportunity.