For those who may wonder if there is room for doctors in the social media space, you need look no further than Dr. Natasha Burgert of Pediatric Associates in Kansas City.
Dr. Burgert, a private practice pediatrician (full-time patient care), shows by example how social media can deliver tangible results for doctors. She shared her experiences in an excellent webinar this week called “Convince Your Docs to Dive into Social Media.” The webinar came as part of my employer’s membership in the Social Media Health Network.
As Dr. Burgert pointed out, she is not a social media expert, lawyer, public relations or marketing pro, or IT person. She is simply someone who “has a passion for educating families in unique ways, in order to promote and encourage positive heath choices for her Kansas City community.”
She cited convincing stats reported by Susannah Fox of the Pew Internet and American Life Project, such as 80 percent of patients use the Internet and 44 percent talk about health care providers online. One in three — people like my wife — talk about themselves in “participatory medicine.” They are increasingly connecting via mobile devices.
“What does this mean?,” she asked. “Being online matters to our patients… Why is this great news? We can go where our patients are.”
Dr. Burgert had an “ah-ha” moment during the H1N1 flu outbreak a few years back. Instead of repeatedly answering the same questions coming by patients via phone, why not do something online that they could access at their convenience? Why not save time and reassure patients by answering their questions in a space they already visit? Why not serve as their information source, instead of having them go to Dr. Oz or WebMD?
She overcame the usual fears: What if I do something wrong? What if I’m not good at this? What am I getting myself into? In fact, she listed six considerations that often derail doctors thinking about social media — (1) The How-To: Technically. How do we use these tools?, (2) Legal. Are we just opening ourselves up to get sued? (3) What about HIPAA? How can we keep private things private? (4) Vulnerability. How will this change our doctor/patient relationship? (5) Time. How much time is this going to take? (6) Return on Investment. Is this going to be worth it?
She overcame all — and pointed out that the ROI has been impressive. She gets a patient a week, thanks to her social media efforts. When you factor the national average cost of care per year, that translates into $114,00 per year.
Over time, she has developed authentic relationships with patients. “Social media is bigger than the dollar,” she said. “The value of the online space is deeper.” She found that being online was “SAVING ME TIME!” Patients came to appointment equipped with knowledge. When she’d start to go into an explanation, a patient would cut in and say: “I already read that on your blog.”
Dr. Burgert found that she was making a difference in her community… and even had attracted a worldwide audience. “What I do online positively impacts the health care of children,” she said. “The goal is universal. Change the outcome of health. Healthcare communicators: Be valuable to your patients to see impact. Create a place where doctors want to participate.”
She shared a content formula that works — 70 percent curating/sharing valuable information from evidence-based sources, 20 percent creating your own content, and 10 percent fun (after all it’s “social” media).
“Social media is a tool to share a message,” she said. “YOU will be the trusted source, no matter the author.”
Plus, your evidence-based “good stuff” will move to the top of Google searches and push down the not-so-good medical advice.
Speaking of Google, Dr. Burgert pointed out that docs who do social media have a much more impressive “digital image.” If you Google the name of a doctor who blogs, tweets or otherwise uses social media, you’ll get links to a lot of information related to the doc. If not, you get very little.
Dr. Burgert finished with steps PR and Marketing pros in health care can follow to get physicians in their organizations to move into the social media world. That’s another topic, and I’ve hit my blogging time limit for the week. Hope you found this helpful. I’m excited about the work of Dr. Burgert and others. They are tapping the power of social media to help lots of people.
I consider myself one of the New Age, tree-hugging hippies mentioned in the above book, but I’m also grounded in my upbringing as the son of an electrical lineman and school teacher in small-town Ohio. I believe in the spiritual principles of giving and receiving as I incorporate social media into my personal and professional lives, but I’m also big on the strategic process — research, planning, implementation and evaluation. There’s got to be a method behind the madness!
That’s why I really liked No Bullshit Social Media: The All-Business, No-Hype Guide to Social Media Marketing by Jason Falls and Erik Deckers. Unlike the books written several years back selling people on the value of social media marketing as a concept, this writing gives specific methods and tools for getting the job done. It provides case studies — solid examples you can wrap your mind around.
Falls and Deckers dive deeply into the seven things social media marketing does for your business:
* Enhance branding and awareness
* Protect brand reputation
* Enhance public relations
* Build community
* Enhance customer service
* Facilitate research and development
* Drive leads and sales
This paragraph on the jacket gives a great summary: “Stop hiding from social media — or treating it as if it’s a playground. Start using it strategically. Identify specific, actionable goals. Apply business discipline and proven best practices. Stop fearing risks. Start mitigating them. Measure performance. Get results. You can. This book shows you how.”
OK, now time for my tree-hugger, hippie side. I found this book through a set of circumstances I couldn’t have planned.
A friend gave me a Barnes & Noble gift card for Christmas, so the family went to a bookstore for the first time in a while. (We’re Amazon people now, especially since I got a Fire.) I intended to get a book about innovation or perhaps travel — in advance of a trip planned to Oregon and Washington next summer — but this one caught my eye, as well as another on a similar topic.
I brought both to the cafe area and began to recall that Falls attended my first Cincinnati Social Media breakfast and had blogged about social media at the government social services agency where I used to work. I thought about how I like following Deckers on Twitter. I recalled that both live near Cincinnati — Falls in Louisville and Deckers in Indianapolis… So I bought their book.
Perfect timing. Right when I’m trying to figure out how to improve measurement and evaluation of social media marketing.
Guess I can hug a tree and saw away at strategic communication at the same time!
A wise person once taught me the power of three little words — I don’t know. For some reason, early in my career, I felt embarrassed to admit a lack of knowledge in certain areas. I’d nod my head, as if to indicate I had it down. Or smile, as if to show agreement for a point that had shot straight over my head. Thankfully, those days are long gone.
Lately, for example, I’ve felt a bit perplexed at times while researching paid social media monitoring/reporting/engaging tools. For several years, I’ve relied on free tools such as Google Alerts, Twitter search, Facebook Insights and YouTube Insight to monitor, measure and report social media success. For even longer, I’ve used WebTrends — a paid product — to measure and evaluate web site strategy and tactics.
But I keep reading in books such as The NOW Revolution: 7 Shifts to Make Your Business Faster, Smarter and More Social and No Bullshit Social Media: The All-Business, No-Hype Guide to Social Media Marketing and others about these cool things you can do with paid tools such as Radian6 and Sysomos — measuring “share of voice,” identifying “key influencers,” calculating and reporting Return on Investment (ROI), doing competitive analysis… Lots of stuff that could create lots of value for your organization and give you great information to assist with your decision-making.
I also hear from my cohorts in health care social media how they employ these tools to more effectively use social media to improve public relations, marketing, customer service… So I started checking with vendors, who were very willing to give demos and explain how their products work. That’s where some of my “I don’t knows” started.
Q: How would you like to use this? A: I don’t know. I want to see what it’s capable of doing. At times, I feel a bit stupid, really. But that’s OK.
Here are some thoughts from Facebook friends:
* Jason Lee Overbey You can do most of those things for free on your own. It truly depends on what you current campaign is trying to do. If you have a big project or brand/message release, I say you need it. But everyone has an opinion on this.
* Jackie Danicki I think it depends on the scope of your project and how important results tracking is to you.
* Allison Brinkman I agree w/ Jackie, though having used Sysomos I can tell you there are benefits however there was more of a learning curve associated with it than other PR related sites I’ve used. Thankfully, they have great customer service!
* Susan Gosselin Mike the free tools are really incomplete. They miss a lot and it’s a pain to aggregate the results. An organization your size should at least have the lite version of Radian 6
* Aldon Hynes We don’t use them… We’ve talked about it, but so far, the cost just doesn’t seem justified. Maybe if we were bigger we might consider them a little more seriously.
* Howard Luks What are you looking to do. Very costly … would suggest you talk to the folks at @brightwhistle or perhaps demandforce.
Some of the social media peeps in our system are using, or are about to purchase, paid tools. Perhaps I’ll tap into their efforts. Maybe I’ll help them, and others, move into more advanced areas. Time will tell.
Meantime, I asked Jason Falls, co-author of the No BS book mentioned above, in a recent TweetChat which he recommends. He gave this list: @radian6 @sysomos@ubervu and @visible. SMMS? @Expion @Spredfast@argylesocial. I’m evaluating the first two very closely.
So the quest goes on. I’d appreciate your insights in the comments section.
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