Trivial Social Media: Is It Harmful or Is It Profitable?
Purpose: The purpose of this project is to examine the pros and cons of using social media as a way of consumer outreach in physical therapy and consider the importance of educating students on social media use in the profession of physical therapy. Description: This report used a mixed methods approach. Literature Review: A literature search of CINHAL Complete and PubMed using the search terms social media AND healthcare as well as social media AND physical therapy was conducted by two physical therapy students. Reviewed articles were limited to those published in English within the last ten years. Case Review: A case of a physical therapy practice incorporating social media as a method of interacting with current and potential clients was reviewed. The purpose was to examine the impact that social media has had on the practice. Summary of Use: From the reviewed literature, the advantages of using social media in physical therapy include 1) improved adherence to health care advice 2) improved health promotion 3) ability to engage additional clients and 4) ability to provide credible evidence to the public.1,2 In contrast, the disadvantages of social media can include 1) privacy issues 2) improper use and 3) concerns regarding quality of information.2,3 The primary conclusion of the case review was that after incorporating social media use into physical therapy practice an increase in the number of clients as well as an increase in revenue was seen. After six months utilizing Instagram as a form of client outreach, the number of followers increased by 700. The practice also reported an increase in profits (approximately $11,000) from new clients gained as a direct result of social media. Additionally, renewed interest from former clients occurred after introducing this new form of outreach. Importance to Members: The results of both the review of literature and case review suggest that social media has both pros and cons in health care. Research reveals the majority of potential physical therapy clients use at least one form of social media.3 Physical therapy students are using social media in their personal lives; however, research has shown they do not feel comfortable using it for professional means and may not have received formal social media training.4 Research has shown an association between likes on Facebook and the likelihood someone will recommend a hospital to others.5 Surveys have shown that social media has become a new resource for the public to search for health information.6 Providing education to DPT students on social media best practices could benefit both the profession of physical therapy and our clients.7