- On 18/08/2016
Facebook isn’t going anywhere, but your patients might be if your medical practice doesn’t find ways to interact with them online. Here’s how…
It’s hard to believe that Facebook was established in 2004. More than 10 years on, and it is still one of the most highly used social networking platforms.
Chances are you’ve already signed up with a personal account, but many doctors still aren’t embracing Facebook as an online platform for their business.
There are several benefits for GPs looking to create a business page on Facebook. Not only does it give patients another avenue to look for your practice online, but it allows you to set up links to drive traffic to your general practice’s website. It also allows you to connect and communicate directly with patients and colleagues.
You can provide information to patients by posting news on government health policy decisions, the latest advances in different treatments and procedures, or even valuable preventative health tips to keep your patients healthy. It’s also a good way to inform patients of holiday close down periods and alternative arrangements should they need prescriptions or emergency care.
Setting up a page is easy and can be done by following Facebook’s own help pages. But there are a few rules specific to the healthcare community that you should be aware of.
- Develop a social media policy.
- Assign a staff member to monitor and update your Facebook page, however ensure they stick to the guidelines established in the social media policy.
- Check your privacy settings. Closing comments from outside users will ensure inappropriate comments are not published on your business page and/or patient information isn’t shared. Instead, encourage patients to send a direct message to the page that would only be visible to the administrators of the page.
- Doctors should tread carefully when directly communicating with patients via the messaging feature. Unless a patient has provided consent to being contacted by this mean, it may breach patient privacy and confidentiality. Never use the messaging feature to provide or discuss any health information due to this inherent lack of security and inability to verify recipients.
- It’s important to note that practitioners are not responsible for removing (or trying to have removed) unsolicited testimonials published on a website or in social media over which they do not have control. However, on your Facebook business page you will need to monitor this. You can turn off the review or ‘star rating’ function on your page by clicking on “Settings” at the top. Then on the left hand side click into “Page Info.” Next to Address click on “Edit.” Now uncheck “Show map, check-ins and star ratings on the Page” and save changes. (Note: you must set your Facebook page category to something other than local business in order to turn off your star rating.)
- Make sure you turn on the language filter to ensure all inappropriate content is blocked.
Once you’re set up, encourage patients to ‘like’ your business page and share with friends and family. Get staff members to also like and share your page to boost your reach.
For more information on social media and medical profession, go to https://ama.com.au/article/social-media-and-medical-profession.