Social media can be tricky in senior care, thanks to HIPAA regulations that require medical professionals to maintain a patient’s privacy. Some health care organizations refuse to promote their patients, and some advise their physicians and other professionals away from social media.
It’s easy to avoid all the complications that come with showcasing patients in social media. Obviously, patients must first agree to such practices through a legal release form, and not all patients are willing to do so. Those limitations have scared away many health care companies but they could be missing tremendous opportunities. In fact, 41 percent of patients use social media to gather health information. Here are three ways that senior care companies can showcase their patients through social media:
- Educate others on the latest treatments available with testimonials from patients. Describe what you are doing for them, and how you are helping their condition. Hospitals and other organizations are learning the value to educating others about patient treatments. Ohio State University recently live-tweeted the surgery of a patient, but senior care companies don’t have to go to that extreme. Educational videos featuring a patient receiving the latest advancement in care can go a long way for any senior care company.
- Let them report on their experience with you. Children’s Hospital of Boston has more than 600,000 likes on its Facebook Page, and features endless streams of comments from patients and their families about the positive experiences they had there. Those word-of-mouth recommendations make a lasting impression.
- Share their personal stories. Those stories can tell compelling features about people of all ages, with all conditions. You may have a patient who overcame brain tumors, another who is coping with a disability, or one who participated in the Senior Olympics after double hip replacements.
Again, any use of patients in social media must have their written consent in a release form. That first step can be the hardest, but patient stories are often some of the most shared items created by senior care companies. That’s a primary benefit of social media for senior care companies—getting the word out about what you do. Showcasing patients is one of the best ways to do it.
Have you showcased your patients in social media?
Kevin Cary is an account manager with Walker Marketing, Inc. You can read more from Walker Marketing, Inc. here.