Thursday, April 13, 2017

YOUR Social Media Healthcare?

There's no point in denying that millennials are influenced by opinions posted on social media. They frequently consult blogs, Facebook, and other social media sites before making decisions relating to education, career, finances, travel and purchases. But does the influence of social media expand to include health care decisions?

As it turns out, the answer is yes. Millennials rely strongly on social media as a source of education on healthcare issues. Further, social media has a huge impact on provider selection, general medical advice and lifestyle choices. Over 75% of Americans use social media to research their symptoms. Also, 90% of people aged 18 to 24 stated they trust medical info shared on their social feeds, according to PwC Health Research Institute.

This survey makes it pretty clear that medical and health information isn't simply being shared to spur conversation, or because it's interesting. Millennials, or at the least the youngest segment of that generation see social media as a trustworthy source for medical information.

This could be problematic if they are using that info to make healthcare decisions without vetting the information, or foregoing medical advice, especially as, according to Epiphany Resources, one in five Americans admit to taking medicine either prescribed for someone else or misusing their own prescription for non-medical reasons.

Like other products and services, millennials read customer reviews on healthcare. As many as 42% of people hit up social media review sites before choosing a provider or making other healthcare decisions. Healthgrades, Consumer Reports, even have reviews that could impact the way that providers are perceived by millennials.

Also, more than 40% of people state that social media impacts provider selection. It's important to note that while their are many ways in which healthcare consumers impact one another's decisions on social media, healthcare providers also have much sway. Up to 41% of people indicated a provider's social media presence impacts their decision making.

Because of this, hospitals, doctors, and other healthcare professionals are increasingly seeing the value of social media participation and engagement.

According to Cloud Dentistry, many hospitals now have social media strategies, and one is more likely to be able to connect with providers on social.

The CDC is Encouraging Leaders in Healtcare to use Social Media

According to the CDC's Millennial Health Leader's Summit, social media can be used in the following ways:
  • Educating communities not being adequately reached
  • Offering useful content where consumers are
  • Facilitating real time conversation
  • Improving credibility and thought leadership
Because of these and other reasons, the CDC is strongly encouraging members of the healthcare community to use social media as a tool. The summit provided a significant amount of information on methods and best practices healthcare professionals can use to reach out to audiences on social media.

When what could arguably be considered one of the most influential health organizations in the world is encouraging providers to use social media, that's pretty significant. It should also be noted that the CDC itself is very active on social media. Their presence includes multiple apps, 18 Facebook profiles, a YouTube channel with millions of views, and 13 blogs among others.

The WHO also Endorses the Use of Social Media to Spread Information

According to his bulletin from the World Health Organization, the ability to access credible healthcare information quickly is very important in creating positive healthcare outcomes. Blogs and other forms of social media used to communicate healthcare information if said information is verifiably accurate.

While much of WHO's stance on this issue comes from recognizing that social media is a great tool for reaching under-served populations globally, it also represents a shift in thinking that very likely was influenced by the way that millennials approach health related information. Conversely, this shift in thinking is likely to influence millennials behavior as well.

Many Smartphone Owners Have Installed at Least One Health App

According to Pew Research 19% of people with smartphones have a health related app installed on their phone. These apps include fitness trackers such as MyFitnessPal, diet and recipe apps, calorie trackers, and weight loss apps.

In addition to this, a significant number of smartphone users are using their devices to access healthcare information. Considering that it's very well established that millennials are very connected to their smartphones, healthcare professionals and organizations may want to consider leveraging mobile. They could do this by creating apps, ensuring that their sites are mobile friendly, even offering self service options to mobile users.

In the past, the typical model of distributing healthcare information cast the provider as the source of information, and the patient as passive consumer of that information. In the future, conversations will become increasingly more engaging.

Clearly social media has as much influence over millennials with regard to healthcare as it does other the other decisions they face on a daily basis. Healthcare providers who are most successful at reaching this generation are going to be the ones who are willing to embrace social media and use it effectively."

Guest Authored By Jimmy RohamptonJimmy is a freelance writer, business consultant and the creator of HowToCreateABlog, where he empowers people to gain digital skills. He's written and consulted for many companies including Cadbury, LEGO, BMW and Unbounce. He's a Hootsuite Certified Social Media Consultant and a Digital Marketer Social and Community Specialist, and he shows people how social media can be a key to personal and professional development. His work has appeared on Entrepreneur Magazine, The Huffington Post, Engadget, and more. Follow Jimmy on Twitter.

"Clearly social media has as much influence over millennials with regard to healthcare as it does other the other decisions they face on a daily basis. 

Healthcare providers who are most successful at reaching this generation are going to be the ones who are willing to embrace social media and use it effectively.."

    • Authored by:
      Fred Hansen Pied Piper of Social Media Marketing at & CEO of Millennium 7 Publishing Co. in Loveland, Colorado. I work deep in the trenches of social media strategy, community management and trends.  My interests include; online business educator, social media marketing, new marketing technology, skiing, hunting, fishing and The Rolling Stones..-Not necessarily in that order ;)
    Follow Me Yonder..                     Instagram

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