Social media is no longer just a way to play FarmVille with friends, but it has also become a powerful new tool for professionals interested in sharing information quickly and effectively without the added expense of running a website. With social networking sites such as Facebook and LinkedIn, doctors can stay up-to-date on the latest medical procedures, expand their professional network, communicate with patients and grow their practices, which is why taking advantage of this new technology is an excellent way to advance any healthcare career.
Doctors with a Smartphone
One of the reasons why social media has become more prominent in the healthcare industry is that it works well with smartphones, enabling medical workers to communicate instantly wherever they go. Over 80% of all doctors now carry smartphones, which they use to send orders to nurses and medical assisting staff instead of waiting to be paged.
Ensuring Secure Data Transfers
While this technology allows for a quicker response in cases of emergency, there are some security risks that are a concern for patients and hospital administrators. Fortunately, encryption software such as Tiger Text has been developed to prevent doctors from violating patient confidentiality, though many still need training on how to use these programs.
Doctor-Patient Cyber Relationships
Another way that doctors use social media to improve their practice is to use sites such as Facebook, Google+ and Twitter to establish stronger relationships with their patients. Dr. Thomas Lee, for instance, provides a link to his Facebook page in order to give his patients a means to post feedback about his practice or to ask questions concerning their health.
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Social Media and Increased Efficiency
Although social networking may look like an added burden for doctors with busy schedules, others use these tools to more easily remind patients about their appointments, schedule a new one, or notify them when running late. In short, social media not only provides a way for doctors to run their practices more efficiently, but it can also improve patient word-of-mouth needed to grow a practice.
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Social Media to Increase Information Sharing
Social media is also great for spreading information, and many reputable medical establishments such as the Mayo Clinic use it to build a trustworthy reference database or to announce the latest news. For example, one group of doctors from Rush University Medical Center used social media to share their personal experiences while participating in the 2010 Haiti earthquake relief effort in order to encourage their readers to contribute.
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Social Media to Aid in Healthcare Hiring
Lastly, social media provides an excellent way for doctors to hire qualified staff to help run their practices. Of all the social networking sites helpful to employers, financial news sources such as Forbes consider LinkedIn to be the most important because more career seekers use it to post their resumes and apply for jobs than any other site. When hiring a new medical assistant, for example, a doctor may look at the LinkedIn profiles of candidates to see what medical assistant training they received as well as examine their links to see who they know or have worked for in the past. Doctors can also use the forums to advertise when a position is available or give hiring advice to other employers, which is why LinkedIn can work as a “one-stop shop” for employment needs.
These methods only represent the most common ways doctors can use social media to improve their medical practice, as the technology is flexible enough to include numerous other applications. The only limits seem to come from the creative minds of the people who utilize it, as everyone from housewives to CEOs can use social media to achieve their goals.
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