The following responses about the social media efforts of Children’s Health Services, PA, are courtesy of their practice manager, Lynne Cheadle.
Q: When did your practice begin using social media?
A: Our practice started using social media in February 2012 in order to provide another communication outlet to our patients.
Q: What social networks does your practice belong to?
A: Currently, we interact with our patients via Facebook, but may consider using other outlets as well. Through Facebook, we provide resources including, but not limited to, health tips for the week, and information about patient events and physician community projects.
Q: Did your practice put a policy in place before joining social networks?
A: Yes. It is vital that all of our practice staff is familiar with what is appropriate behavior while using social media.
Q: Who manages your social media?
A: Our front office supervisor was given the responsibility of managing our social network. We thought it was important to have one central person in charge of and aware of the communications taking place on Facebook.
Q: Have you seen a difference in patient interaction with the practice since using social media?
A: Yes. Now our patients are able to get more information in a timelier manner. Patients seem to prefer getting updates online rather than any other medium. Although communication preference may vary from patient to patient, our online presence has increased the number of patients seen on a regular basis and improved our credibility.
Q: What is the biggest challenge in using and maintaining social media?
A: Even though social media has benefited our practice, it is often hard to regularly provide updates via Facebook. It takes a lot of time and consistency.
Q: Do physicians interact with patients through your social networking sites?
A: Not personally. Most of our staff is receptive to using social media. So, when we implemented our social media policy we made sure that everyone understood how to interact without impacting the physician-patient relationship.
Q: Would you recommend that other practices utilize social media?
A: Yes. Since patients are looking to online resources for most of their health information, we find it better to be involved in that process to monitor what is said about our practice and the medical profession.
Follow Children’s Health Services, PA, on Facebook here. More information about social media and to follow the NCMS on its social networking sites visit the NCMS website at: http://www.ncmedsoc.org/pages/public/media_pub_affairs/social_media.html.