The Reading Room

Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter: How to showcase your imaging program on social media

by Miriam Sznycer-Taub and Emily Snow

In an increasingly consumer-driven health care environment, online searches play a significant role in patient research. According to Google's extensive study of online consumer patterns, 52% of patients use health information sites, 26% read online consumer reviews, and 83% consult hospital websites.  However, another study from the American Hospital Association showed that the results of online searches were not always successful in influencing patients' decisions.

What 2,000+ consumers told us about their imaging preferences

Imaging patients are increasingly using social media to gather information. Patients use sites such Healthgrades, Yelp, ZocDoc, Facebook, and Twitter to guide decisions about where to receive imaging. These sites present an opportunity to communicate your program's strongest features, build a recognizable brand, and encourage patients to choose your facility for imaging services.

How to leverage social media to promote your imaging program

There are dozens of social media platforms that health care consumers use. Don't forget: Social media can be your ticket to appearing approachable and expressing clinical expertise, while entertaining your audience.

To leverage these platforms to attract new and repeat customers, post content that reaches the right audience and resonates with their priorities. What are those priorities? When we asked more than 2,000 patients what matters most to them when shopping for imaging services, they overwhelmingly chose access, services, and quality as the most important factors.

Here are some ways you can address patient priorities:

  • Access: Imaging patients overwhelmingly view lack of access as a significant deterrent. Patients like to schedule appointments quickly and conveniently, and they do not want to wait at the imaging center or for results. Don't be afraid to promote your wait times or other metrics that demonstrate your program's efficiency.
  • New technology: Showcasing your facility's advanced imaging technology can be an effective way to attract new imaging patients. We learned that for some patients, technology actually demonstrates better quality than clinical quality scores. Be sure to post about your latest and greatest technology acquisitions.
  • Patient satisfaction: Imaging patients care about how they will be treated at your facility. Use patient testimonials to exemplify how your patient satisfaction scores compare to other facilities.

Tips for posting on various social media sites

Here's how to tailor your content to four social media sites: 

  1. Instagram: Google's analysis found that 43% of patients reported watching patient testimonials online to obtain information about hospitals and understand complicated treatments or procedures. Use Instagram to post frequent photos or videos that feature the technologies you offer, highlight patient testimonials, or share facility updates.
  2. Facebook: Facebook can be used to share lengthier, in-depth content. Be aware that with Facebook's new rating feature, patients may rate your facility directly on the page. One way you can encourage positive feedback on your Facebook is by sending automated digital requests to patients immediately after the appointment, asking them to write a review.
  3. Twitter: Use Twitter to post short health tips, facts, patient stories, or to retweet related content. Follow official, recommended Twitter accounts from related organization in order to find opportunities for promotion. Use related hashtags when you post so your content shows up on a wide array of user feeds. Some health care organizations have even taken to Twitter for live chats with consumers. For consistency, you may want to link your Facebook and Twitter so the accounts mirror each other. 
  4. Yelp: While patients are more likely to share negative opinions, these negative reviews rarely represent the true patient experience. The best thing you can do for your Yelp page is encourage satisfied patients to leave positive reviews and curate positive descriptions and pictures so you have control over the narrative that patients see when they first open your page.

 * Be sure to consult legal advice and receive approval before posting any patient-related content *

Using social media to grow volumes

In addition to promoting their imaging services broadly, programs can use social media to advertise specific services, particularly those that are elective or non-urgent services. When selecting services to market through social media, it is important to consider which services patients have time to research. For instance, one interventional radiology procedure that many programs market directly to patients is uterine fibroid embolization (UFE).

Mount Sinai Health System uses Twitter and Facebook to market their UFE services. Mount Sinai's messaging, shown in the example below, clearly speaks to women suffering from uterine fibroids, gives patients a direct call to action, and demonstrates the benefits of interventional radiology to treat fibroids.

As a result of their social media marketing efforts, 50% of Mount Sinai's fibroid patients are self-referred, and the health system has seen a 15% growth in UFE year-to-date. Mount Sinai estimates an additional 15% in growth over the next five years.

What your patients expect from their care—from millennials to the silent generation

Millennials, Gen X, Baby Boomers, the Silent Generation—what exactly do each of these groups want from their health care?

We surveyed thousands of consumers across the United States to find out. Download this infographic to learn how to tailor your messages and target your investments to each generation.

Get the Infographic