New technologies mean that doctors need new medical marketing strategies to catch the attention of patients. Twitter is one of the new technologies that can be used to build and grow a medical practice. Twitter is considered a microblog because a message on twitter is limited to 140 characters. This is called a “tweet”. The tweet can be directed at single or multiple users and can be sent through phones, emails, or just be a post on the originator’s board.
Using this form of communication in healthcare marketing is in its infancy amongst the medical community at present, but it is growing by the day. One way to use twitter as a doctor is as is in direct communication between the doctor and the patient. Using twitter this way requires excellent judgment and application of privacy and ethical standards. It should be obvious that you would never want to “tweet” about anything that would violate HIPAA or disclose personal information.
However, you could use twitter to let patients know that you’re running behind schedule or that you have an immediate opening. This can help the doctor stay current with his appointments and the patients can be served better and in a timely manner. Twitter can also be used as a forum for medical questions. Patients can simply tweet their questions throughout the day and you can respond with generalized tweets for all of your followers.
Another medical marketing tactic is to use Twitter as a platform to inform patients of important medical information. Drug recalls, product alerts, and local healthcare emergencies can be addressed with a simple tweet to make patients aware of potential problems in the community. This marketing activity can be made very simple by “re-tweeting” this information from trusted media sources, drug companies, or medical journals.
Twitter can be a fun way for doctors to market their practice, but doctors must take their tweets seriously and know where to draw the line. Avoid tweeting about personal issues or non-medical concerns because this will diminish the value of using Twitter as a marketing vehicle.
Twitter can be integrated in to the medical marketing strategies of a doctor’s practice in many other ways. Get creative, but maintain responsible use of this technology. Use the feedback you get from patients to understand how you can serve them better and grow a profitable medical practice!