Home > Blogs, Healthcare, Social media > Here’s a doctor who uses social media to save time, build her practice, help patients…

Here’s a doctor who uses social media to save time, build her practice, help patients…

Dr. Natasha Burgert is a full-time pediatrician, blogger, and social media community manager.

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.”

For her, that includes a blog, Twitter, LinkedIn and even Google+!

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.

 

 

 

 

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  1. January 21, 2012 at 1:36 pm

    I help professionals utilize social media and I use a similar formula for blog content; 60% information in your field, 20% original professional articles, 10% Fun, And 10% Local; the latter helps link your business into the region your business is in.

    Another way to post original content while appeasing and growing your blog’s fan-base is to have guest bloggers post on your blog. Your fan-base should appreciate the added perspective while your blog meets it’s need to publish original professional content. The guest blogger in turn gets a link to their website from the blog post. A win for all parties.

    I am interested in question #3 and how she answers this?

    • mikeboehmer57
      January 21, 2012 at 2:28 pm

      Thanks, Mark. I try to follow a similar formula on Twitter.

      As for #3 and HIPAA, physicians who use social media usually have a policy that they answer medical questions in general and don’t give direct medical advice on patient-specific matters.

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