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Imagine Blog

Social Media Medical Compliance Tips

Physicians and practitioners understand communication is the key in maintaining a good relationship with their patients. Honest, sincere, dialogue has always been a precursor to successful management of health. Recent studies show that when a patient opens up and talks to their doctor, they have a better perception about themselves and the issues they may be facing. The question remains, how can we open different channels of communication and still be compliant with HIPAA laws?

A key issue when communicating with and about patients is you can’t share any information that could compromise their privacy or your integrity. Problems with privacy violations under HIPAA can quickly arise with the use of online technology, such as Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, YouTube, and blogs.

Practitioners are tarnishing their reputations and damaging the perceptions of their colleagues, inadvertently, through seemingly personal postings, and accidentally sharing a patient's health care data, or offending their patients’. The issue is becoming so problematic, leading medical societies including the Federation of State Medical Boards and the American Academy of Family Physicians have now created policies regarding physicians' using social media.

After complying with best practices, careful use, and adhering to policies, physicians are now able to use social media in educating their patients. Steps should be taken to bring these technologies under control while taking advantage of the benefits of providing patients with valuable information to make healthy decisions.

Patients have become empowered.
Patients are not just reaching out to their doctor when they have an issue or ailment; many are turning to Google and WebMD to research common symptoms, physician ratings, medications, and healthcare organizations. Despite if the information is appropriate or valid; patients are determining their next steps through this information. Although it seems unfathomable to a doctor, their patients are trying to diagnose their symptoms online.

The good news is that if social media is used correctly, it can help position you as an influencer. Health care brands, physicians, and staff members can use resources available to them to educate current and future patients. Social media is literally revolutionizing the healthcare industry through new and improved uses as it continues to grow and evolve. Innovative collaborations are redefining doctor-patient relations, and the potential benefits are remarkable.

4 Tips to Use Social Media in the Medical Industry & Stay Compliant
1.) Common sense is the key. When it comes to social media is not always what you post as much as it is, how you post it. You must always consider how your message will be received, and never do so in a way that could create embarrassment or damage your reputation, perhaps permanently!

2.) Post information that is timely and relevant. Be sure to post things that are top of mind to your patients. If it is a bad flu year, as an example, post information about safeguards, treatment options, medication. Even an infographic on hand washing technique would be appropriate. You could also tweet about your hours of operation.

3.) Engage your client. By providing timely information you create an atmosphere that invites clients to dialogue with you about what is concerning to them. Be sure to understand your target audience in these situations. For example, if your patient demographics are highly concentrated with families, posting information at the beginning of the school year about the dangers of playground equipment might be a good topic.

4.) Avoid oversharing. As the famous motto states, “less is more.” This is true in the social world, and even more so for the medical industry with HIPAA guidelines. You never want to put yourself in a position where security could be compromised. As an example, do not let your patients engage you with specific medical questions. In this case a phone call with an invitation for an appointment would be most appropriate. Patients can and will say whatever they want about their medical issues. You, however, cannot. HIPAA guidelines prohibit this.

Through these common sense best practices you will find a very powerful patient engagement tool at your fingertips, however, you must be sure that you are constantly compliant. Through proper use, and management of your social media activities you will be able to engage your patients, provide them vital information, create a better public image, and impact their lives.
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Internet Marketing for the Medical Industry

Long gone are the days when the medical world could just rely on referrals from their colleagues.

Two things have spurred this catalyst: the first being the advent of a digital age in which consumers can have research at their fingertips to help with decisions that they used to leave to the "professionals." The second being the Affordable Care Act, wherein now, the freedom of choice in providers has opened up new levels that have not been seen before.

This creates a whole new world, not only for the patients, but now also for the providers. First, one must consider how truly competitive the medical industry is and understand that anything that can create an edge over the competition should be looked at. In days past, a practice could rely upon basic marketing principles, such as the Yellow Pages, radio, newspapers, and word of mouth. Now, however, the internet is arguably the most important marketing method that you can have. Just having a website is not enough, though. You need to appeal to your potential clients and you must engage them.

SEO, Social Media, and Reputation Management are now the tools that need to be employed to develop a reputation as a provider of choice. What these tools will do for you is make you stand out in the sea of information on the search engines as well as help you to build trust. Having a high ranking in the search engines is important as the typical person will only search so far before making their choice. The social media portion is important in that it helps you to provide valuable information to your patients and potential patients, yet it also allows you to engage them on a more personal level, creating trust. Your competitors are likely already doing things like this and should you decide to ignore it, you are, without a doubt, falling further and further behind.

There are many modalities and complexities when it comes to Internet Marketing, least of which being Google's constant changes and tweaks to its algorithm. What you should realize, though, is the need to develop keywords and terms that specify your specialty and practice and build upon that. Secondly, engaging the public-at-large with info that is relevant to their needs and tying everything back together will position your practice as an authority.

This is accomplished by utilizing keywords and targeting them through correct use on your website and developing backlinks that lead to your site. Additionally, develop appropriate content and utilize social media to increase the exposure that your practice is receiving. This, however, must be done correctly and remain compliant with the terms of service of the search engines. Failure to do so can lead to diminished rankings and even a ban from the search engines. Can you afford that to happen to your practice?

In closing, here at IMAGINE, we have a group of experts ready to assist you in this area. We are committed to your success and the success of your internet marketing efforts. Feel free to contact me directly for more information on how IMAGINE can help develop the strategies that will work for you.





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ImagineSoftware
8757 Red Oak Blvd.
Charlotte, NC 28217
Tel: 704.553.1004
Fax: 704.553.1006
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