How Healthcare Providers Can Communicate With The Community

Healthcare providers have an opportunity today that no other provider, hospital or clinic has had in the past. Today, healthcare providers have the ability to connect with your local communities, communicate about issues impacting those around them and share knowledge in a major way. 

When we think of social media management or public relations and the industries that need it the most, we often think of major corporations. The example that often comes to mind is BP and the crisis management after the infamous oil spill in 2010 in the Gulf of Mexico. But it is not just billion-dollar corporations or those needing to act quick in the case of a crisis that benefit from a strong social media presence and a solid digital communications plan. Healthcare needs social media; controlling what message you put out there can shape public perception, de-stigmatize intimidating or nerve-wracking procedures and connect with your patients in a new way. When you control the conversation, you can wield knowledge as a powerful tool to connect with your community. 

You want current and potential patients to talk to you about the difficult things. 

There are countless conversations that patients may be afraid to discuss with their healthcare providers. Social media gives healthcare the opportunity to start conversations and remove shame or fear from the conversation, once and for all. This open dialogue can empower patients to ask the difficult questions. Carilion clinic designed the above campaign to open a dialogue via social media and answer questions in the comments about breast cancer. It was a personable way to answer questions, start a conversation and take away any misconceptions. 

By bringing up topics that should be on patients’ minds during annual check-ups, you remind them to ask, make an appointment or gather more information. Social media allows hospitals or clinics to directly respond to questions and concerns, educate in real-time and personalize the healthcare experience. These campaigns show clients that when they choose you, they aren’t just choosing a business or a service provider; they’re choosing an ally to stand beside them in difficult times. 

You can position yourself as more than a clinic or a healthcare provider. 

Many feel that their experiences with healthcare aren’t personable, their provider doesn’t spend enough time with them or their concerns aren’t heard. Social media campaigns can help mitigate any negative feelings and if a portion of your patients are walking away feeling unheard, it gives you the opportunity to hear that feedback and make the appropriate changes. 

You can share essential information with your community. 

Is it time to get the flu shot? Has there been a chicken pox outbreak? Even health issues that are small, such as lice, can be addressed on social media. Infographics or reminders to prioritize proactive healthcare measures can help your patients to stay on top of their health when they’re outside of the office. Fun graphics can be used to educate, alert or remind the community what is going on, and how to protect themselves. 

Healthcare services can raise awareness or reduce stigma around difficult topics. 

Many people find they are afraid to talk to their providers when they’re struggling with a substance use disorder or a mental health related concern. Utilizing social media campaigns like the ones above can take a serious topic and reduce stigma, allowing patients to feel more comfortable bringing it to the table at an appointment. Sharing information about mental health and then encouraging conversation at an appointment is another way to control the kinds of conversations you want to have. 

In its essence, healthcare is about people. Healthcare is about healing and connection. Social media gets the conversation started, the relationships formed and the loyalty solidified. Out of all industries, healthcare has incredible important work to be done online, and a strategic public relations firm and a social media campaign is a great place to start.