Ninety-Four Percent of Patients Turn to Facebook for Medical Content

Social Media LogoAccording to a 2011 National Research Corporation survey, one in five Americans use social media websites as a source for obtaining health care information. Ninety-four percent of those respondents designated Facebook as the top social network to gather information about medical care. Social networking is continuing to grow and many businesses and organizations are utilizing its popularity to market their services to consumers. With so many patients using social media to gain health information, physicians and their practices may consider having a more virtual presence in the community. Developing online marketing tactics, such as updating a practice’s website and providing information to patients via social media can increase practice visits and credibility.

Survey results conveyed that many participants felt that a practice’s web and social media impact would “likely” or “very likely” influence their future health care decisions. A good portion noted that their trust in social media was “high” or “very high.” Maintaining a virtual presence allows practices to send the right message and control the content provided to their patients. Since patients are relying on social media and the Internet to influence their decisions, being a part of the conversation will make it easier for patients to recognize the practice and share their experiences with others.

Most physicians and their staff are wary of implementing social media due to the risk of breaching confidentiality and negatively impacting the physician-patient relationship. With the proper social media policy and team managing these sites, practices can successfully interact in a manner that is most effective for their patients and without harming the physician-patient relationship.

Getting involved in a media outlet that is most used by your patients will allow you to make an impact on their health care decision-making process. Contact the NCMS Member Resource Center at 800-722-1350 or [email protected] for more information about improving web-based interactions with North Carolina patients.

Follow the NCMS on Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube. Physicians also can get updates about the NCMS Foundation on their Facebook page.

The AMA also offers guidelines for use of social media by physicians.


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