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How practices can use social media to engage with patients

When it comes to GP practices, social media has become popular as more patients use technology to connect with their doctors. Practices can use social media channels as a platform to keep in touch with their patients, share practice news, important information and encourage patient engagement.  But how can your practice benefit from social media and what’s the safest way to use it?

 

Why should I use social media for my practice?

The number of social media users in the UK has reached 60% and more than 80% uses Google to look for information on a daily basis. This means that having an online presence can help your patients find information quicker and more easily.

 

Which social media platform is best for a GP Practice? 

With all the different social media platforms out there, it’s difficult to decide which one is best for your practice. Here’s a quick run through of the top three platforms:

  • Twitter: Twitter is probably the easiest social media network to set up. Unlike Facebook you don’t require an existing account to set one up. You can be up and running within an hour.

Twitter is mainly about ‘tweeting’ status updates. You can retweet updates from people / organisations you follow. You make friends through following people and organisations and they can follow you back. Twitter is also a great source of news from all the major primary care groups who publish updates, news and press releases on their twitter feeds.

  • Facebook: Facebook is definitely one of the most popular social media channels. To setup a page for your practice, you already have to be a pre-existing Facebook member as you will log into the Practice Facebook page via your personal account. Facebook groups have also been popular for business, as they create a sense of community. Practice staff as well as patients can join several primary care groups where they can find clinical guidance, discuss with other group members, participate in polls and more.

Instead of friends and followers you are chasing elusive ‘likes’. It’s likely that a good proportion of your patient list is already on Facebook, so it’s probably your best bet for rapid growth.

  • LinkedIn: LinkedIn is the largest business networking social media platform in the world, and a great way to stay in contact with professional people. Probably not the best platform to speak to patients to, but definitely something to keep in mind.

 

Source: RCGP, www.rcgp.org.uk/social-media

Top tips for social media in a GP Practice:

  • Have a social networking policy in place
  • Have a complaints / customer service procedure in place
  • Make it clear that patients cannot make or cancel appointments via social media
  • Make staff aware of privacy setting available on their social network platforms
  • Pick a social media channel that suits your practice best
  • Clearly outline a code of conduct on your surgery website
  • Only be active during practice hours
  • Commit to it. Doing things half-heartedly is worse than not doing it all


Don’t forget you can find First Practice Management on TwitterLinkedIn and Facebook and join our Facebook Group.

In addition to the information above First Practice Management subscribers can obtain more information about social networking policies in the FPM Policies and Procedures Library.

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