How Covid Changed the Way Doctors Use Social Media and Technology to Treat Patients

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The pandemic transformed the workplace of healthcare providers (HCPs) and other professionals across the board by primarily accelerating the integration of technology in the workplace. Because of this, the way HCPs interact and collaborate with one another has changed, and with that, the methods in which advertisers can target and reach doctors on social media and web-based networks have taken a giant leap forward.

HCPs are Increasingly Relying on Technology and Social Media Platforms

Recent data shows doctors becoming increasingly reliant on technology to not only interact with one another, but to stay up to date on emerging medical information. According to Brandwatch, 90% of HCPs watch online videos supplied by pharma companies, 64% have used virtual reality for training, 45% listen to medical podcasts on medical journal sites, and 80% use websites and professional portals.

HCPs are increasingly engaging social media since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic. Prior to the pandemic, 70% of doctors were on social networks, this number has since jumped to 81% of HCPs. Among the 81%, 52% are using doctor-only networks, like Sermo and Doximity, which allow doctors to connect with one another intentionally to collaborate.

Web-Based Applications are Changing How HCPs Treat and Interact with Their Patients

The migration to telemedicine and web-based networks for HCPs has completely changed the norms in patient treatment. Medical services took a pivotal turn to virtual appointments during the pandemic when patients who did not require urgent care were encouraged to stay at home and call-in to an online session with an HCP.

According to the 2022 US Telehealth Satisfaction Study, most patients now prefer virtual appointments to in-person for certain routine visits, such as prescription refills, reviewing medication options and discussing test results and 94% of patients plan to use telemedicine to receive medical services in the future.

At first HCPs were unsure, but this transition has seen more acclimation as it has helped to save time for HCPs and hopefully lessened the overwhelm from the pandemic. In fact, the number of HCPs that primarily use telemedicine increased by 50% between July 2020 and June 2021. Because of this sweeping change, platforms providing telemedicine saw significant increases in user base, with Doximity alone enjoying a 46% increase in engagements since the start of the pandemic.

What Does this Mean for HCP Media Allocation?

With HCP’s increasing reliance on telemedicine and heightened engagement and participation on HCP-only social media, it makes sense to put more consideration into allocating media budget to these specific channels. The shift in patient care and HCP presence on technology amplifies the ability to target doctors. Instead of heavily relying on traditional in-person channels such as point of care options, advertisers can have their brand show up on platforms such as Sermo, Doximity and telehealth platforms where an increasing number of HCPs go to engage with their peers and patients and consume educational content with the ability to target specific specialties.

Opportunity to Reach HCPs with Relevant Ads is Growing

While some things are starting to get back to normal, there is no doubt that there will be significant lasting effects in the HCP work landscape. Telemedicine is here to stay, and many doctors have completely shifted their practice to be web-based, and agile. Many others have adopted telemedicine at least on some level. HCPs will continue to increase their use of technology and the ability to connect on HCP-only networks. Information is being passed around these social media platforms at a higher rate than ever before, opening the door for massive collaboration and innovation. Use of technology in the everyday lives of HCPs was already on the rise, but COVID sent it into lightspeed. With these lasting changes, the opportunities to target and advertise is only growing.

This article by Lori Goldberg, founder and CEO of Silverlight Digital, was originally published on Healthcare Business Today. 

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