The right content can engage, educate and entertain patients
If you think TikTok is just for silly dance videos and teens, you could be missing out on an opportunity to educate and connect with patients — and to correct dangerous misinformation. “The time for any physician to discount social media platforms is over,” Don S. Dizon, M.D. told Healio.
Here are some ways eye doctors in particular can offer quality content to engage patients and combat misinformation on social media.
Inspiring healthy habits via social media
Social media use skyrocketed during the pandemic, and it shows no signs of slowing. So like it or not, a presence on social platforms like Facebook and TikTok is a smart strategy for doctors and practices that want to stay relevant and top-of-mind to patients.
A survey found that nearly a third of Americans have taken an action related to their health as a result of information they got from social media.
A survey of over 2,000 adults by the American Osteopathic Association (AOA) found that nearly one-third of Americans (32%) have taken an action related to their health—such as changing their diet, exercise or medication — as a result of information they read on social media.
“People — and young people in particular — don’t go to the doctor as often as they should but they are interested in improving their health and wellness,” Mikhail Varshavski, D.O., the most followed doctor on social media, told the AOA. “If I can inspire a positive lifestyle change in someone through YouTube, then I’ve been an effective physician.”
Doctors take different approaches to this. For example, ophthalmologist Vicki Chan, M.D., made a video titled 4 Things I’ll Never Do as an Eye Surgeon to warn against common but avoidable eye injuries she’s seen in her 10+ years of medical practice.
Another approach might be to share a short, fun, eye-catching video like this one from Rendia, Healthy Family Snack Hacks on your Facebook page, for instance.
Combating medical misinformation
Another important role doctors can play on social media is combating misinformation. During COVID-19, we saw a huge amount of misinformation being spread online. Some of it was disinformation—false statistics or claims intended to cause harm—and some of it was misinterpretation of available data.
It’s important for providers to be part of the conversation related to health topics so information shared on social media isn’t dominated by people with no medical expertise.
As evidenced by the FDA having to issue warnings about NyQuil chicken recently, like it or not people are listening to what they’re seeing online, including your patients. It’s important for medical professionals to be part of the conversation and put data in context for the average social media user, said Austin Chiang, M.D., MPH, founder and president of the Association for Healthcare Social Media, to Healio. “If we’re not on these social media platforms as health professionals, then the conversation would be dominated by people who don’t have the appropriate training.” As an example, research found nearly 84% of contraceptive information on TikTok was created by laypeople and is misleading.
Again, eye doctors can choose the approach they want to take to share accurate health information on social media. On TikTok, an optician known as the Punk Optometrist shares videos such as how to put in contact lenses to background music by the Misfits and My Chemical Romance. Another doctor might prefer to share this animated Rendia illustration that shows how to tell if you’re wearing your contact lens correctly.
Raising awareness with engaging content
Social media is best suited to short, preferably entertaining or engaging videos, rather than in-depth patient education. Think of it as a way to capture a patient’s attention and start a conversation. This can be particularly effective if you pique their curiosity or tell them why they should care about a certain condition or treatment.
Think of social media as a way to capture patients’ attention and start a conversation.
For example, pain medicine specialist Kunal Sood, M.D., one of the top 9 most popular physicians on TikTok, uses popular memes and formats to create awareness, such as this one on supplements for arthritis. In the caption he asks viewers if they’ve tried any and encourages them to discuss the supplements with their doctors.
Eye doctors know that diabetes is now the leading cause of vision loss. But many patients do not. And, because conditions like diabetic retinopathy and glaucoma typically have no symptoms in the early stages, patients may not even realize their eyes could be at risk. A short video like this one shared on social media can raise awareness and encourage patients to schedule an eye exam.
If you’re new to social media, or to certain platforms, it may seem like the learning curve and time requirements are too daunting, but they don’t have to be. Rendia offers a robust library of content you can share on your social platforms as part of your practice’s social media strategy.
Read one more: Ideas and Strategies for Your Annual Social Media Calendar