Despite its increasing popularity and advantages, digital media remains an underutilized mode of marketing by healthcare professionals. Digital media has long been recognized as a means of social interaction and networking, but more recently it has been used by modern businesses hoping to cash in on its connective capabilities. One of the last industries to capitalize on digital media has been the healthcare industry, perhaps due to its slower rate of adaptation to consumer trends.
Consumer behavior in health care has always been rationally simple: people will directly seek out a health care professional when they are concerned about their health, as health is not a matter about which people think lightly. With the changing times, however, a healthcare professional will not be the first stop at finding an answer to one’s health related questions. People have become empowered by the Internet, especially when it comes to their health; many are inclined to search online for answers to their health questions and concerns. In fact, according to the Pew Research Center’s findings:
80% of Internet users use the internet to acquire health information.
55% of Internet users search for medical treatment and procedures.
47% of Internet users seek information about health professionals.
Most importantly, these Internet users consider the information they find online to be actionable; according to a 2012 study conducted by Google:
77% of patients used search before booking an appointment with a health professional.
If 41% of people say that social media would be an influential factor in their selection of a healthcare professional, then commanding a strong and informative online presence is a key component of patient outreach (Pew).
So while the personal element of healthcare still exists between a healthcare professional and his or her patients during an appointment or treatment session, the former may need to rely on digital media to ever meet the latter.
Internet media is vast, so to maximize the effects and reap the benefits of a social media marketing strategy, a combination of content types must be used. The best way to create an effective online presence is to ensure that the voice behind any representing post has the authority to create and maintain a dynamic balance between original blog content, digital videos, social networking, and other digital media that will enable a health professional to connect to and establish a reputation with prospective patients. A successful combination of these mediums will enable a health professional’s practice to strengthen and expand regardless of the economic environment, so taking advantage of digital media in the healthcare industry is a must.