In the recent years, social media has become part of our daily lives; we access it on our computers, on our smart phones and our tablets and even on our smart TV. We can’t escape it, and more importantly we shouldn’t ignore it. Currently there are 8 million Romanians that have a Facebook account and about a quarter of them follow business communities on Facebook. Eight millions is close to half of the population of the country and you can surely expect this number to go up as the population ages. While social media statistics for Romania are very scarce, I would like to give you some examples on how social media has impacted the medical industry in the US and explain why the Romanian medical industry should adopt social media as well.
1. 26% of all Hospitals in the US participate in social media
Social media is important for hospitals to communicate with past, present and future patients. Hospitals participate on social media via: 84% Facebook, 64% Twitter, 46% YouTube and 12% Blogs
2. 60% of doctors say social media improves the quality of care delivered to patients
This statistic means that doctors believe in the transparency of their practice. They communicate with their patients over social media and this is significantly improving the quality of care.
3. 2/3 of doctors use social media for professional purposes
A majority of doctors often prefers to participate in an open forum rather than a physician online community. This statistic reinforces my previous point about showing a level of transparency in the industry.
4. Search is indispensable in a patient journey
Prospective patients are now active partners in their medical journeys. Before booking an appointment 1 out of 2 patient’s take over 2 weeks to research their symptoms, treatments/procedures and conditions/diseases. Moreover 61% visit two or more hospital sites before converting. The key decision factor for a patient to book an appointment is digital content.
5. Mobile is the patient’s constant research companion
As we mentioned, patients do a lot of research and about 1/3 of patients make their research on their smart phone or tablet. They do their research just about anywhere, while visiting friends and family, at work, at home and at the doctor’s office. Patients use their mobile devices to compare offers, to discover new brands they weren’t aware of, to read reviews of facilities and locate facilities. Patients using their mobile devices are also more likely to watch online videos and book an appointment than someone using a computer or a laptop.
6. Online video informs and connects
Patients want to find more information about hospitals and understand complicated treatment and procedures, so they watch patient testimonials or other patient generated content. Patients who have watched a video about a hospital are more likely to talk to their friend, family or colleague about it, share the video on their social media, contact the hospital and/or book an appointment. Online videos drive consumers to hospital sites where they are more likely to become a patient. The YouTube traffic for hospitals has increased 119% year over year.
7. Parents seek medical answers online.
Parents have the natural instinct to protect their kids and that includes their child’s health. More parents are looking for health information online, 22% search on Facebook and 20% on YouTube.
8. People talk about health on social media
28% of health related chatters on Facebook are supporting health related causes, while 27% comment about health experiences, 20% post about health experience and 20% join a health related cause. People also share their health symptoms with their friends, they post reviews about treatments and doctors and share videos or images related to health.
9. Book appointments and follow-up discussions via social media
1 out of 2 people expect to hear back from their doctor when they request an appointment. Normally, the follow-up discussions via social media happen within a couple of hours. This is an incredible number. The traditional way of booking appointments and doing follow-ups is changing and customers expect you to accommodate them.
10. 31% of healthcare organizations have a specific social media guideline
It is very important to have a social media guideline for your organizations for several reasons. Social media opens the doors for negative comments; therefore you need to have a strategy to handle them. It may expose organizations to privacy, security or ethic breaches. Staff may also inadvertently share confidential information about patients and/or the organization. I personally recommend every company using social media to create a guideline and to update it when necessary. It will help protect the image and the integrity of your business.
Even though the Romanian market and the US market are different from each other, the way people use social media is the same. Romanian Internet usage exceeds traditional media usage. Users spend twice as much time on the Internet than watching television. The main activities of these users are spent searching for information and news online and 20% of that time is focused on social media.
Social media is disrupting the traditional way of doing business, of interacting and communicating with your customers. The masses are now expecting you to be present on social media because this is where they spend most of their time online. The bottom line is, if you aren’t present on social media, your current customers and potential customers will more likely find a healthcare provider who is on social media and take their business over there.
Thank you for reading my article; please feel free to share your thoughts with me by leaving me a comment below.
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