Sunday, January 4, 2015

Really? The hospital doesn’t do social media?

Imagine my surprise when I heard some hospital senior leadership types make the statement that "the hospital does not do social media". And proudly I may say, as if it’s some badge of honor. That kind of leadership points to a healthcare enterprise that has hunkered down with self imposed barriers, unable to effectively understand the nature or respond appropriately, to business model changes required in today’s healthcare environment.

I do predict that their future unfortunately, will be one of merger, closure and leadership unemployment.  Not because they don’t “do” social media, but because it is a failure of leadership, of vision and of innovation, that when combined with a rapidly evolving health care market that is consumeristic in nature, is deadly.

Okay the rant it is over.   Let’s look at why healthcare leadership in hospitals needs to have an effective and measurable social media strategy; plus tactical plan in place. This is just not about attracting the Young Invincible, or the newly insured or Medicare population. It’s about your strategy to build the brand, engage healthcare consumers and patients, manage your reputation and grow the healthcare enterprise. Remember that growth is good.

How about we start with some statistics on Silver Surfers, a key demographic for those in the health care business? I would sooner engage in a discussion around facts and not opinion.  When discussions are based on opinion everybody is right.

Silver Surfers are moving right on past the hospital, to wit:
1 in 5 twitter users is over age 50
53% of Americans over age 65 use the internet
Of that 53%, 70% use the internet daily
48% of seniors 65+ own a desk top computer
63% of adults 50- 64 own a desk top computer
77% of adults aged 50-64 use the Internet
1 in 3 seniors uses social media
49% of seniors online have a Facebook account
18% of Twitter users are over age 50 
Source: 2014


In just case this is a just a “oh really”, then from this social media infographic: 41 percent of patients say social media affects hospital choice courtesy of   This is really astounding when you consider the financial implications. Even better in the report was that 60 percent of doctors saying social media can improve the quality of care. One in two adults uses their smartphone to look up health information as well.
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 to the bottom of the trust well to 25 percent. Most interesting is that the trust factor for the top three is really only a few percentage points difference.

When this information is combined with the Mayo Clinic survey  “Health Care Social Media List,” Social Media Health Network,  the statement “We don’t do social media?” is borne of a lack of knowledge, vision and leadership.

The point of all this, is to help leadership in hospitals and health systems, have rational fact-based discussion on the impact of social media on the business strategy. Social media does affect the overall hospital, its marketing strategy and positioning of the organization. It can have an effect on healthcare consumer and patient engagement. It influences reputation. It can shape the brand. It can influence revenue.

This is 2015 not 2000. The health care market marches on in becoming a semi-retail model, driven by innovation and healthcare consumer choice.   And hospitals are falling further behind each and every day.

Happy New Year

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