Can hospitals implement new trends in social media? Well, community hospitals are looking to social media to provide them with a way to communicate to their patients in a cost effective way.
For Saint Anthony Hospital (SAH), there are many trends that could be beneficial to improving their social media strategy. Healthcare may be the last to jump on the social media train but they are beginning to see the opportunities that social media provides. Some of the benefits that social media is providing healthcare is “enhanced community outreach, employee relations improvement, and insight into the competitive recruitment environment” (Sarringhaus, 2011).
The number of hospitals using social media is minimal – 965 out of 5,800 hospitals are engaged in social media. The 965 hospitals that are involved with social media – 777 have Facebook pages, 714 have Twitter accounts, 486 have YouTube channels and 120 have blogs (Sarringhaus, 2011).
Medical professionals need to take advantage of Facebook to share health-related tips and to have a 2-way conversation with their patients on healthy lifestyles. Social media is allowing for better interaction between healthcare providers and patients. However, these discussions can also work against hospitals as physicians and medical staff will need to understand what can and cannot be shared on social media. Hospitals will really need to focus on protecting information as they get deeper into social media. Protecting patient privacy is the challenge. Hospitals do not want patients or physicians posting information during procedures, sharing sensitive information about health issues or procedures. The largest challenge of Facebook is the speed that negative information can spread. Many hospitals will need to have PR departments who not only monitor traditional media but they will need to monitor social media.
Facebook is only one of the tools that SAH should consider. Blogging is a huge opportunity for physicians to show their expertise. Blogging will give physicians a voice and allow them to talk about a variety of topics separate from the hospital. Not only can physicians share their health expertise also hospital executives can blog sharing a variety of topics from health care administration to community topics.
Before either one of the tactics are implemented, SAH will need to implement a social media policy that clearly defines who can post on blogs and what types of posts are acceptable on the blog as well as Facebook. After defining the policy and educating the staff, SAH will need to recruit the bloggers and develop the content calendar. After these tools are in place the Facebook postings and the blogging can begin with some monitoring of course!
Promotion of both the Facebook page and the blog will need to be a priority – utilizing both to promote the other. It will be important to have the resources to monitor both sites to ensure that comments are responded to in a timely fashion as well as monitoring any comments or feedback. These tools will not only allow for direct communication with patients/community members, it will also allow for a showing that the staff at SAH is aware of what is going on and responsive to the needs of its constituents.
Sarringhaus, Meredith M. Journal of Healthcare management. The Great Divide: Social Media’s Role in Bridging Healthcare’s Generational Shift. July/August 2011. Pages 235-44. http://search.proquest.com.ezproxy.snhu.edu/docview/880297248