Hospitals and Social Media…Is that a good combination?

26 Feb

There seems to be social media tools for every industry under the sun. Is social media truly the next best thing next to sliced bread? Well of course, it depends on who you ask and whether or not their social media strategy has been successful or not.

The hospital industry has slowly moved into the social media realm. I know it is hard to believe that this industry that has so many privacy laws can be successful with social media. But there are some success stories out there.  

  • Using Twitter and Facebook for an OB practice to educate patients and encourage patient to patient interaction
  • Scripps used Twitter to turn angry patients into loyal ones
  • Children’s Medical Clinic in Dallas tweeted about a kidney transplant from father to son

Learn more about these and other success stories.

But what about garnering new patients? Can social media help hospitals do that? Well, according to an article entitled Patients pick Hospitals for their Social Media Presence stated that 57 percent of consumers said that a hospital’s social media connections strongly affect their decision to accept treatment at that particular location.

Would social media presence persuade you to choose a facility or doctor over another? 

While there are many success stories, there are also much risk. According to Social Media Usage by Staff Complicates Hospital Risk Managementmuch of the risk stems from doctors “friending” patients, doctors posting information about a patient and using Twitter to pass along information during surgery. I don’t know about you but I would be a little concerned about my doctor tweeting while he is supposed to be performing a surgical procedure.

There has been so much change within the social media world and hospitals are starting to catch on. Does this new trend mean that hospitals not engaged with the right social tool will lose ground and patients? Or will we see an increase in lawsuits and new laws being put into place to prevent too much information sharing online. We don’t know what the future may hold on these issues. Only time will tell.


Posted by on February 26, 2012 in Uncategorized


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4 responses to “Hospitals and Social Media…Is that a good combination?


    February 27, 2012 at 12:24 am

    Hi Jacinda –
    I think this is a very interesting topic. I am surprised that patients would even consider the SM tools being offered by a specific hospital or doctor office. I would have guessed that patients would be more concerned what hospitals and doctors are covered by their insurance, in close proximity to their home and/or work and great feedback from friends or family that currently use their service. With that being said, I am sure people could consider all of the things I mentioned as well as the SM tools.
    I am a great fan of Social Media and I do believe that every industry could benefit from SM tools. However, I am still not sure how hospitals as well as the medical industry itself could use these tools to attract new consumers. I guess we will have to wait and see what they do in the future.

  2. dahlcache

    February 27, 2012 at 5:22 am

    Hi Jacinda,

    Good overview of the potential friction caused when consumer engagement collides with patient privacy concerns. I agree with your thoughts on the future but also feel that there is a revolution (more than evolution) going on here as old school thinking finds out they need to use SM to reach new consumers. Another great example is the VA Medical Centers. The VA has one of the most advanced patient management systems in the world and they are now using that power and all the resources to educate veterans and families. Veterans are also able to schedule online, renew prescriptions, monitor records, chat for advice, and so much more. It makes sense. Today’s vets learned to stay connected via SM so this is another win-win.
    Thanks for a great, thoughtful post Jacinda!
    Bill D

  3. Jason Boies (@JasonBoies)

    February 27, 2012 at 5:56 pm

    I can see some people feeling like the lack of ANY sort of social media presence may reflect poorly on a particular hospital. It may signal to some a lack of interest in listening to patients and prospective patients. It also may demonstrate a lack of commitment to good communication with its community. Social Media isn’t the be all/end all of communication but it’s become a huge part of many people’s communication habits.


    Jason Boies
    Radian6 Community

  4. divaonadimea

    March 4, 2012 at 4:40 am

    I agree that no business can afford not to be on facebook in this day and age, however given the nature of hospitals and the privacy of people’s information I think that hospitals should continue to tread lightly in this arena. Great post!


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