The How, And Why, You Need To Embrace Social Network Strategies

Nancy Anderson
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Those working in the medical and health field have a formidable competitor these days when it comes to dispensing advice, insight and information about remedies and treatment: the Web.

As a recent article in the Charlotte Observer explains, patients are running to the Internet when they have a medical question, problem or issue and very often take online information as gospel, even when contradictory data is offered up by medical professionals during appointment times.

This means medical professionals are not only trying to educate patients about personal health issues, concerns and what to do, but have to make patients understand that Internet-info may not be all that reliable, trustworthy or factual.

So what can you do when dealing with this issue? Well first, says the article, you can refer patients to reputable and reliable sites such and tell them to make sure any site they use has the Health on the Net seal of approval.

The reason you don’t want to discourage patients from using online resources is simple: many people are already taking Internet data as pearls of wisdom to live by given a survey that shows Google searches come in second after meeting with a doctor on a medical concern.

What healthcare professionals may also want to do, and which could be a professional feather in the career cap, is talk to management and business leaders at their companies about doing some public service initiatives to help patients discern the fact from the false when it comes to Web research on medical topics.

Another potential way to help patients is to provide a social networking presence, whether it is a Facebook page or a Twitter feed, that lets physicians and medical staff offer up suggestions and insights about newly published materials and sites that can help patients make better decisions on care but always with the big caveat of attaining a medical professional’s advice of course.

Social networking efforts can be done without legal and liability issues coming into play, say experts, and provides a valuable add-on service that may make the difference when it comes to retaining patients and boosting patient rosters.

One good example in the article is a look at how the Carolinas HealthCare System has carved out a Facebook strategy that’s working and the challenges inherent in the social networking effort.

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By: Judy Mottl

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