As of 2014, 1.8 billion people have social media accounts across the world. While many of us were introduced to the concept of social media with the 2003 launch of MySpace, the evolution of the platform has grown from a simple way for people to connect with friends and family, into a well-oiled machine that can make or break the success of a business, including a healthcare practice.

Expressions-14The healthcare industry has latched on to the ways of the digital age and although more physicians are warming to the idea of social media accounts, many remain hesitant to participate.

Still debating whether or not social media has a place in your practice?  Here are some statistics that may shock you.

1. Patients are going to talk
According to information gathered by spark report, 44 percent of patients say they are likely or very likely to share positive or negative experiences on care received from a hospital or medical facility. This means regardless of whether or not you are active on social media, a conversation concerning your practice could be happening any time a patient walks out of your office.

2. Social media provides the immediate answers
More than 40% of consumers say information they find via social media plays a role in how the deal with their health. While it is arguably never a good idea to blindly believe information found on the internet, this does show that patients are looking for guidance and doctors have an opportunity to make sure they are getting the correct advice.

3. Healthcare professionals reign supreme on social media
Sixty percent of social media users say they trust social media posts by doctors over any other group. Congratulations! You’ve got the microphone and everyone is listening. Doctors are looked at as respected members in the community and taking part in online talks regarding your specialty can help ensure credible information is disseminated to the general public.

4. Social media helps the greater good
Does the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge ring a bell? 28 percent of health-related conversations on Facebook are in support of a cause connected to healthcare.  Social media has made it easy for people to contribute to healthcare organizations by creating a sense of community awareness and bringing real stories to life.  People may not have known anyone suffering from ALS, but they felt a sense of inclusion to contribute to a greater cause.  This strategic means of leveraging social media helped The ALS Association raise $1.35 million in donations between July and August of 2014.

5. Social media helps people cope with chronic diseases
When it comes to coping with chronic disease, outlook on diet and plans for exercise, many patients turn to social media for support. Social media has turned into an online forum to share ideas, experiences and recommendations.  This even applies to selecting a care provider.  The weight of a social circle should not be minimalized or dismissed.  By taking the time to communicate with patients on social platforms, physicians are showing that their support goes beyond the four walls of the exam room.  Plus, patients will be sure to appreciate the additional avenue of communication.

How are you using social media in your practice?  Share your thoughts below.