Healthcare Social Media is a Waste of Time for Most Doctors

Posted by Dike Drummond MD

healthcare social media waste of time for doctors 150x150Healthcare Social Media is a Waste of Time (or worse) for Most Physicians

Healthcare Social Media is all the rage these days. You can’t visit even one physician-oriented website without someone breathlessly advising you to be on Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, YouTube … and now Pinterest. Yet the only reason these talking heads can give you is, “because they are really popular and everyone is doing it.”

Healthcare Social Media Consulting is a bubble economy at the moment. I suspect there are far more healthcare social media consultants in the marketplace than doctors who can point to ANY Healthcare Social Media activity that has shown a measurable positive effect on
- their Bottom Line
- Or their Enjoyment of Medicine.

Don’t listen to the healthcare social media flavor of the month … because here are …

3 Reasons Healthcare Social Media is a Bad Idea for the Average Practicing Doctor

1) There is NO Return On Investment (ROI)

If you are a clinician who is paid by your patient’s insurance company for the services you provide … I challenge any healthcare social media consultant to show you how a Facebook post or Twitter Tweet produces any additional income for you.

Remember, no one pays you to login and post on Facebook. You would have to be posting something that actually causes more patients to come into the office where you can see them and charge for your services.

Here is a link to a healthcare social media article on KevinMD.com where a doctor is singing the praises of his online presence with no clue whether he is making a single additional dollar from all the blogging, tweeting and updating.

Here are some important questions:
How much do you bill in an average hour? If you spend two hours a week on your healthcare social media maintenance (a minimal amount) you have cost your practice as much as several thousand dollars in gross billings. Did your tweets drive that much business through the door?

Before you do anything on Healthcare Social Media … I encourage you to understand exactly how you generate a return on that investment of time and energy. If no one can show you an ROI … don’t do it because …

2) Healthcare Social Media is DANGEROUS IF …  it’s just one more “SHOULD” to Burn You Out

With studies consistently showing 1 in 3 doctors burned out on any given office day, adding the learning curve of just one of these healthcare social media sites could be the last straw in your workload. And the social media consultants never recommend you do just one … nope. They always recommend a “strategy” and list the sites in groups of three and four as I have above. These are all the places you “SHOULD” have in your healthcare social media strategy.

I can tell you from direct experience that each site has its own learning curve, technology and culture. It is a piece of cake to waste dozens of hours just getting up to speed on just one site.

Facebook is VERY different from Twitter or Pinterest … and any one of them can be overwhelming to an already busy physician.

If you are bordering on overworked … like most docs I know … and you get a spare hour in your schedule … my suggestion is you go have a nice lunch with your significant other (or your kids) and leave Twitter to Ashton Kutcher.


3) Healthcare Social Media is a Fad, it’s a Bubble … it’s not worth it … Unless one of these apply

a) One situation where Healthcare Social Media outreach might be worthwhile is if your practice (or a significant portion of it) consists of products or services the client pays cash for.

In this instance, your Facebook post of a special offer might just drive more clients and dollars in the door. This is exactly how a restaurant uses Twitter and why social media makes a LOT more sense for a restaurateur than an MD.

The more entrepreneurial and cash-based your practice is … the more likely you can come up with a healthcare social media tactic or two that makes business sense. AND watch the time you or your staff spend on the computer hoping to “Go Viral”. Do your very best to measure the ROI of any investment in Healthcare Social Media.

b) Another situation where Healthcare Social Media can be OK is if you have a lot of spare time and don’t care about money. In other words, it is a Hobby. If you are using your social media avatar (who you pretend to be online) for kicks in your spare time … go for it.

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If you are the typical doctor in the typical medical practice … there is no business case for Healthcare Social Media, there is no ROI … and the additional workload and expectations could worsen the amount of stress you are under.

That’s three strikes by my reckoning.

So the next time a “guru” of Healthcare Social Media tells you the five sites you should be on (and there will be two more in the next 18 months … I guarantee it) … you can say, “Thanks, but no thanks” and get back to taking good care of your patients and spending time with your family instead.

PLEASE LEAVE A COMMENT BELOW on your experience with Healthcare Social Media.
I would especially love to hear if you have made measurable cash off healthcare social media and your practice is 100% insurance based.

Tags: healthcare social media, twitter for doctors, facebook for doctors, healthcare social media waste of time