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Plastic Surgery & Social Media

Publication:

Medical-social-media

Social media is gaining more and more influence. More and more information is being published and communicated. The numbers are more than impressive.

Very high level of use and activity

According to a list from Stern & Statista, the following happens within one minute on social media:

PlatformWhat happens in 60 seconds?
Youtube500 hours of video
Tiktok5000 downloads
Linkedin9132 Networking
Pinterest9722 Likes
Twitter350000 tweets
Instagram695000 Stories
Facebook3125000 Likes
Emails197600000 Piece

Much light and shadow

Such enormous numbers make it clear why the topic of social media is discussed again and again. However, the enormous opportunities also bring new problems. As with everything, there are not only sunny sides - the very rapid development also creates new problems, which on the one hand require new ways of thinking or regulations, both legally and socially.

Enormously fast development

If we compare the use of social media platforms with past technological developments, we see that the development cycles are very small and short-term.

Facebook, for example, was founded in 2004 - Google in 1998 - tiktok in 2014. In contrast, for example, the first mobile network in D-network operation was launched in 1991.

If you look at the speed with which the usage figures for social media interfaces are developing, it also becomes clear that there have been very few technical changes to date that have influenced society in such a short and concise way. Daily routines and behaviors, such as those that could develop with many different routines (landline telephony, EC card payments, etc.), had to be found in a very short time frame.

New problems arose

If you look at the speed with which the usage figures for social media interfaces are developing, it also becomes clear that there have been very few technical changes to date that have influenced society in such a short and concise way. Daily routines and behaviors, such as those that could develop with many different routines (landline telephony, EC card payments, etc.), had to be found in a very short time frame.

However, since there were few "guidelines", so very diverse different attitudes about the use of social medias have developed. Step by step, surfaces, legislators and users are noticing that there are previously unknown negative developments in some areas, such as:

  • Identity Theft
  • Abuse of evaluation possibilities
  • Stalking
  • Discremination
  • Addictive behavior
  • Spread of Fake News
  • Overabundance of information
  • Cyberbullying
  • Abuse of the data
  • Arousal of images through manipulated information (e.g. filters in images, etc.)
  • etc.

What does this mean for the field of medicine?

Until a few years ago, the Therapeutic Products Advertising Act still had a very strong influence on the way information was communicated in the field of medicine. Before and after pictures, for example, were not allowed to be published.

May before/after pictures be published in social media?

There are different opinions on this. In principle, however, the Regional Court of Cologne ruled in a judgment that it is anti-competitive if images of cosmetic surgery are linked on Instagram (Regional Court of Cologne judgment of 15.04.21 - Ref.: 81 O 106/20). This also affects agencies that market foreign providers in Germany.

Similarly, competition centers are active in many procedures in the field of aesthetic dermatology and medicine. According to the Ärztezeitung (publication from 10.08.2020), the prohibitions on illustration or advertising with fixed-price offers are the most frequent violations of applicable rules. In some cases, coupons or "set offers" are also offered via social media.

We definitely do not recommend showing before/after pictures.

Does the use of social media make sense for me as a practice / clinic?

Social media is a very direct form of communication with patients or customers. Therefore, it makes perfect sense to consider whether you want to use one form or the other.

Securing and pursuing names is a duty in our eyes

In any case, you should secure and protect your name with the individual upper surfaces. It would be unattractive if someone communicates information using your clinic name as a pseudonym. This could lead to confusion for your patients or suppliers.

In addition, you should track whether anything is communicated about you in the individual areas, because unfortunately we are experiencing cyberbullying more and more frequently. And unfortunately, we also experience it more and more often that patients immediately mistake this information for a reliable testimonial.

Think about which platform you use

Not every platform is suitable for use. Keep in mind that social media also entails work. This point is often overlooked or underestimated. If you use several platforms, then keep in mind that each platform addresses different target groups - therefore you should also create targeted posts in each case, which fits the interface.

Let's take Tiktok for example - here, predominantly younger target groups are addressed, who react to other stimuli.

 FacebookInstagramTwitterYoutubePinterestLinkedinTiktok
DestinationImage, Traffic, BrandImage, Traffic, BrandImage, Traffic, BrandImage, BrandImage, BrandNetwork, RecruitingImage, Brand
Target groupmixedmixed
rather 18-35 years
mixed
rather 18-50 years
mixed
rather 18-40 years
more women
rather 18-50 years
mixed
rather 30-65 years
mixed
rather 15-25 years
Content typeText
Image
Videos
Links
Livestreaming
Photos with #Hashtags
short videos
Livestreaming
Text up to 140 characters (should be more)
Image
Videos
#hashtags
Videos
Links
Livestreaming
Photos with linksTexts
Links
Photos
Webinars
Videos

Not every piece of information is suitable for communication

A selection of topics is important. Not every piece of information is suitable for communication. Take surgical images, for example - not every customer likes and loves these images. A surgeon doesn't mind so much. Keep in mind with your topics that the customer or patient sees many topics differently - many are afraid just at the sight of a syringe.

Similarly, not all topics are suitable for pictorial presentation. For some topics (e.g. intimate surgery), schematic representations are more comfortable for the target group to view.

Not good:

  • Bloody or repulsive images (for example, of surgery)
  • Report on a course of disease with knowledge obtained in the capacity of a physician - even if name or place is omitted
  • Impairment / damage to the reputation of colleagues / patients (please also be careful here in connection with responding to / commenting on reviews).
  • Contact with your patients via your private account (keyword: doctor-patient relationship)
  • Remote diagnoses (keyword: prohibition of remote treatment) - general questions may be answered (for example "what is carpart tunnel syndrome?")
  • Advertising contrary to the profession
  • Promotional, misleading or comparative advertising
  • Passing on the data obtained to other companies (e.g. pharmaceutical companies)
  • Product-related statements (for example, "take cream x or y - it helps best" or "take dietary supplement A and you will lose weight")
  • Questions that encourage or support patient self-disclosure.

 

Positives:

  • Meeting with colleagues (for example further training / congress)
  • General information or explanations
  • Neutral checklists
  • Pictures of the practice / clinic, so that the interested also gets an impression

Compliance with a certain netiquette

Respectful and objective communication and consideration is always desirable - in the real world as well as in the online world. Behave as you would in everyday life.

Observe legal regulations

Many physicians / clinics now use social media. However, we often observe that legal regulations are forgotten or disregarded. The most important rules at a glance:

  • If you use e.g. Instagram / Facebook / etc. for business purposes, an imprint is required (imprint obligation).
  • Pay attention to the privacy policy (e.g., via a landing page or redirect link)
  • Separate practice / clinic and your private profile
  • Check your privacy settings so that only your intended audience can see your information.
  • Observe the GDPR - especially in the case of pictorial representation (if persons are recognizable in the picture) - also for your personnel
  • Respect the copyright and be aware of the legal requirements for image sources
  • Also observe medical confidentiality
  • Refrain from laudatory, misleading or comparative advertising

Social media can be costly

Do not overlook the fact that the texting of the posts, selection of motifs, choice of hashtags, etc. can possibly be quite time-consuming. In addition, you should take into account that answering questions, etc. should be done in a relatively timely manner. For example, if you are asked a question via Google my Business or Instagram, then a response is expected here within a few minutes / hours. In addition, the interfaces also use this information to classify your quality.

Assistance:
Which provider is more relevant to a topic in your eyes?

  • A provider who answers you a question after 20 minutes or a provider who answers after 5 days?
  • A provider who publishes a "I'm putting a pizza in the oven" release every 6 weeks or a provider who publishes a new statistic or help guide one week?
  • A provider who motivates 5 % of their target audience to take a Like or a provider who motivates 10 % of their target audience to take an action?

 

How can I, as a patient, check information or what should I look out for?

For patients, there is always the question of how to determine whether a provider is good or whether information is also reliable. We would like to give you some advice on this:

Take a look at the imprint

The imprint is a mandatory information. This indicates who is responsible for a website. It should be clearly recognizable who communicates the information accordingly. This also applies to commercial social media profiles. If there is no imprint, you should be careful.

Is it communicated what happens with your data?

Is there open communication about what data is being collected and what happens to it, or are these explanations just very hidden? If I am up to no evil, why should I hide what I am doing?

How is the provider financed?

There are many interfaces that offer information on health topics. However, it is not always clear how the individual interface is financed. If it is not the doctor's or clinic's or practice's site directly, you should be able to clearly see how a corresponding website or social media account is financed - especially in the case of corporations. Each interface incurs costs such as web hosting, programming, design, copywriting, etc. - so it should be clear where the funds come from that cover the material expenses.

Cross-checking of memberships with professional associations

If a provider indicates memberships with professional societies such as the German Society for Aesthetic Plastic Surgery DGÄPC, DGRPAEC, VDÄPC, etc., you also make the cross-check whether the relevant specialists are really members there. Unfortunately, corresponding logos or seals are also abused accordingly.

If the respective professional society does not publish a membership overview, you can also inquire at the respective office or at the respective national association.

For figures, statistics, etc. - which sources are used?

You know the saying, "Never believe a statistic you haven't influenced yourself?"

Unfortunately, many statistics are published - but where does the data come from? How were they collected? Who evaluated them and how? I can easily have 100% satisfaction if I survey myself as a provider... or only 50% if I survey 2 customers, of which only 1 is satisfied.

Healthy skepticism in evaluations

Especially with ratings, there are very many "fake reviews" and room for interpretation. Unfortunately, the reality is that mostly only dissatisfied customers rate a provider. Only a few satisfied patients or customers use the opportunity to give their provider feedback. Likewise, there are agencies that focus specifically on this area. Likewise, there are competitors who try to gain an advantage through a negative evaluation of the competitor.

Please consider how many patients, for example, a doctor treats every day and then compare this number with the ratings found. Especially with medical topics, it is difficult to classify found ratings in a meaningful way. What are the real reasons for a negative rating?

  • Is the patient familiar with the Treatment result dissatisfied and is the cause a false expectation or really a medical error?
  • When a doctor makes a Treatment refuses and the patient absolutely wants to have this procedure, this often leads to negative evaluations - and often also to evaluations regarding the friendliness, since you have to communicate a little more "clearly" with one or the other patient.
  • When Waiting times are complained about, a reasonable time frame is a very subjective feeling
  • In any practice, unforeseen situations can arise (especially currently due to staff absences, etc.) - this can lead to short-term changes, which causes many patients to give negative reviews
  • etc.

 

Physicians or clinics may not comment on individual facts as they would often like to do. It must not be possible to draw any conclusions about the individual person or the treatment itself in the comments. Even if the evaluator were to state his name directly - then the corresponding clinic / practice / doctor may not write anything about the treatment or the course of treatment.

Conclusion: If you do it, do it right

We are often asked what is right or wrong. Basically, we are of the opinion, wrong is when you try to represent something that you are not. At the latest when your customers / patients are with you, the reality will show.

Followers does not mean fans. When you take action, go for quality over quantity. Create exciting and high-quality content. Only if your target group is enthusiastic about you will they become fans. In the algorithm, not only the like counts, but also the interactivity. Try to encourage your target group to take action - for example, ask questions (e.g. what tips do you have, what experiences do you have, etc.).

Note that in the online community, however, more and more real links are being created - in other words, in the long term, the same factors always count as in real life: those who enjoy doing something and do it with passion usually do it better. And honest information also lasts longer, because currently many surfaces are very active in developing ever better routines that recognize SPAM or fakes. And those who constantly and consistently provide good information do not have to worry much about possible changes in the future.

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