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Turn Tech-Savvy Providers into Marketing Allies

Marianne Aiello, for HealthLeaders Media, June 20, 2012

Once rare, the tech-savvy doc is emerging at hospitals across the nation. Every organization has at least one. Maybe he or she takes notes on an iPad, or can?t put down the BlackBerry during meetings, or actually uses the EMR email function to communicate with patients electronically.

This doctor may seem like a novelty in some organizations, but once you?re done marveling, take a step back and think about how you can use this physician?s technical inclinations to enhance your marketing strategy and the patient experience.

Get docs involved in social media

A study conducted by technology consulting firm CSC found that physicians use social media more than does the average consumer. Your tech-savvy doctor may already be on social media for personal communications, so he may be uniquely positioned?and eager?to contribute to the hospital?s online presence.

Perhaps this doctor is interested in live-tweeting a procedure, or answering relevant medical questions on Twitter or Facebook. Maybe he would like to regularly contribute to the hospital?s blog or website.

One of your docs might even aspire to become a social media medical thought leader in the same vein as Kevin Pho, a prominent doctor on Twitter (@KevinMD) with more than 54,000 followers. With a little coaching and oversight, your doctor can create a highly visible account that could generate positive publicity for the hospital.

Test new patient communications

Tech-savvy docs can also be used as a focus group to test new patient communication methods, paving the way for improved patient satisfaction. Physicians are increasingly using email and other technology to communicate with patients, so it?s time to determine which methods work best and create best practices.

In 2011, less than 40% of physicians surveyed by Manhattan Research said they communicate with patients via email, instant messaging, video conferencing, or secure messaging. Granted, that statistic is up from 24% in 2005, but there is still plenty of room for improvement. Most EMRs include a secure email capability, but not all physicians are taking advantage of it.

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