Social media guide provides docs with 15 step game plan

By Molly Merrill
10:15 AM

A social media guide for physicians is being released Monday by Avvo at the Third Annual Health Care Social Media Summit, which kicks off at the Mayo Clinic.

Avvo, which touts itself as the world’s largest online directory for doctors and lawyers, is making its free guide, “Being Influential Online: Social Media Tactics for Physicians,” available to attendees who drop by its sponsor table at the conference. It has also made it available for download here.

Avvo officials said the purpose of the social media guide is to provide physicians, and healthcare communicators who market on behalf of physicians, with a time-efficient game plan for establishing an online presence – whether the goal is to attract new patients, expand referral networks or simply manage an online reputation.

Highlights of the guide include looking at physician liability and social media and HIPAA and how to leverage search engine optimization (SEO) to increase online reach. But the bulk of the guide aims at helping docs establish their core online presence through a series of 15 steps.

As sponsor at the Third Annual Health Care Social Media Summit, Avvo joins a group of presenters focused on how to engage patients and physicians in the digital age. Discussions will center on the use of social media and mobile communications, media relations, security and legal issues, HIPAA regulations and the ePatient movement.

Howard Luks, MD, a board-certified orthopedic surgeon and an associate professor of orthopedic surgery at New York Medical College, is part of a panel of physicians who will be speaking at the summit on how they engage their patients through social media. The panel will be held on Wednesday, Oct. 19 and will be moderated by Wendy Sue Swanson, MD, a member of the medical staff at Seattle Children’s Hospital and author of the hospital’s pediatric health blog, Seattle Mama Doc.

Currently, there are some roadblocks thwarting adoption, says Luks, who notes that many physicians

  • don’t understand Twitter and what its use is;
  • don’t generally understand how it can help patients;
  • are afraid of HIPAA, and don’t know what their organization’s position is or they don’t have well established guidelines; or
  • simply don’t see the ROI.

But "there are many ROI," says Luks, "none of which are immediate, but it pays off later down the road." He notes that:

  • Social media increase Web presence and make it easier for your patients to find physicians.
  • When integrated with one's website through video etc., social media can serve to build a relationship of trust with patients and result in a “far more efficient, productive interaction in the office."
  • Social media also serve to “dramatically improve patient satisfaction – and a happy patient is going to spread your name."