Saturday, February 22, 2014

What don’t hospitals get about social media?

When I was reading the February 2014 issue of Hospitals and Health Networks, I came across a gatefold insert Social Media What Your Hospital Should Know.  I found it mildly interesting and a superficial treatment of an important topic.  But beyond the simplistic steps provided at best , what struck me were the following statistics reported  in the gatefold for hospitals;  1,292 have a Facebook page; 1,090 use 4Square; Twitter comes in at 998;, 716 for YouTube; and only 209 blog. The source is listed as Health Care Social Media List,” Social Media Health Network, Mayo Clinic.

Really? Maybe it’s time for hospitals to get with the changes in the market.

I have written a lot about social media over the past few years. I guess it’s just falling on deaf ears.

A social media healthcare consumer engagement plan and platform isn’t a nice to have, or one to take a caviler attitude of “oh that’s nice”. Not having an active and engaging social media platform is costing revenue.  That’s right; lost revenue.  

Understand, 43 percent of healthcare consumer use social media for information gathering to make choices about which medical provider they will use. The healthcare consumer is also the new paparazzi and saying what is good and bad about the hospital.  And more often than not, it’s not good.

So what are the implications of not having an active and engaging social media program?

The healthcare brand is at risk. The organizational reputation is at risk. Utilization from revenue is at risk because the shift from production of care to risk and value based reimbursement will take time. The ability to attract high caliber employees is at risk. Patient engagement strategies are not as effective. The healthcare consumer’s experience suffers as well to name a few.

And the great lie in healthcare for not doing this is HIPAA.

It’s simple really; you do not put identifiable patient information on social media. End of the discussion. And if someone does, they are gone.  Period.   HIPAA does not preclude an organization from having an engaging and active social media program.

Social media is more than a marketing and communication channel. It’s about building relationships by engaging in a two-way conversation with the healthcare consumer, who at some point would generate revenue and for enhancing the experience. Social media can even assist in keeping a patient in network so you can decrease leakage.

I am not going to answer the question of  how to create a social media plan or platform that is fully integrated into the organizational marketing, engagement and experience plans. 

But if leadership is sitting back and asking that question, at least there is a glimmer of hope in beginning to understand they don’t know what they don’t know.  If leadership is not asking that question, then leadership is probably in a world of denial thinking he or she has the answers and knows all about social media
And to those in the second category I say, best of luck in surviving in what is evolving into a semi-retail, healthcare consumer driven market.

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