You bet it can and here’s why from this most interesting social media infographic: 41 percent of patients say social media affects hospital choice courtesy of healthcarecommunications.com. This is really astounding when you consider the financial implications. Even better in the report was that 60 percent of doctors saying social media improves the quality of care. And one in two adults use their smartphone to look up health information as well.
When this information is combined with the Mayo Clinic survey “Health Care Social Media List,” Social Media Health Network, with so few hospitals participating in some aspect of social media, the discussion is no longer about nice to do, but don’t have the time or lacking the willingness to tackle the internal political issues, to a business strategy that can drive the brand, awareness, perception, experience and ultimately revenue.
So who does the healthcare consumer trust in social media driven health information and content? Doctors are first and that is no surprise at 60 percent. Nurses are in second place at 56 percent. Hospitals come in virtually tied with nurses at 55 percent.
Only 46 percent of people trust health information from patients they know. And if they don’t know you as a patient, that trust drops like a rock to 25 percent. Most interesting is that the trust factor for the top three is really only a few percentage points difference.
The point of all this is really to help marketing leadership in hospitals and health systems; have a rational fact-based discussion in their organizations on the impact of social media on the business strategy. This does affect the overall marketing strategy and positioning of the organization.
Marketing in hospitals and health systems isn’t about making things look pretty anymore; it’s about driving revenue, managing demand appropriately and improving the healthcare consumer and patient experience. And that is not easy by any means.
Social media is more than an app for the Iphone or Android operating system that tells you ER wait times. Social media is a platform of engagement and innovation.
It’s not about posting pictures of new buildings or pieces of technologically advanced diagnostic equipment, those can go on Pinterest. It’s about how you develop content in the right context that is engaging, informative, educational, experience enhancing and drives business. Social media gives a healthcare organization the ability to deliver content directly to the healthcare consumer or patient to meet all those goals.
The time for waiting is over. The times to act is now, and drive a comprehensive social media strategy into the fabric of the hospital or health system. The healthcare consumer is out here looking and making healthcare choices, and they can’t choose the hospital or health system that’s not out there in social media.