These simple guidelines will help your medical practice avoid common risk pitfalls, achieve compliance, and embrace digital marketing.
Digital platforms like social media and blogs present opportunities to engage new audiences and reduce costs, but their public nature also presents challenges for physicians and medical practices. Instead of avoiding these channels due to potential risk, healthcare providers shouldn’t be afraid to put themselves out there — provided they take careful measures to prevent unnecessary controversy or legal ramifications.
By following these four guidelines, medical marketers can reap the benefits of digital advertising while avoiding the common pitfalls.
1. Know the rules
It’s important to understand the regulations that govern your organization, whether it’s a large hospital or small medical practice. Many companies have specific compliance standards when it comes to social media, so be sure to fully absorb them before posting.
If you are a physician within a larger network, check to see whether your hospital has rules about what content you can share, and whether it needs to go through an advertising review process. Some larger organizations have social media and content tools available for individual doctors to ensure that posts are compliant while still allowing some degree of autonomy.
2. Have a plan
When developing your digital marketing strategy, it’s important to plan ahead. Know what you're going to publish beforehand so you're not posting hastily, and have time to consider the relevance of your content. If necessary, submit your materials for review in advance and make sure you have a standard approval pipeline in place to avoid delays.
You should also have a plan for how to respond in case something goes wrong. Identify the person responsible for managing crisis situations and create a high-priority approval chain to roll solutions out as quickly as possible.
3. Refrain from giving medical advice online
This is likely common knowledge, but giving medical advice online is by far the easiest way for healthcare providers to get in trouble. Patients may send you messages or comment on your social media posts asking for help — which is great because it means they’re interested in your practice. However, resist the temptation to answer specific medical questions online. Instead, invite patients to visit your office for an official consultation and diagnosis.
4. Embrace reporting
One benefit of digital marketing is that it gives you the opportunity to track your efforts. You can easily see how many views your blog posts are getting, or how many patients are converting from your social media ads. Understanding these metrics is essential to improving your digital presence and learning what's working and what's not. Tracking your results enables you to "push the winners" and post more content that appeals to your audience.
While digital marketing carries some risks for healthcare providers, it also has the potential to reach patients on the platforms they use everyday. That, combined with the many cost saving benefits, makes digital marketing an essential component for growing your practice. By planning ahead and avoiding a few common mistakes, you can minimize risk and continue to attract new business through blogging and social media.