Social media has found its place across a wide variety of industries, “humanizing” many companies that normally do not get to show their human side due to the nature of their business. The influence of social media is slowly interweaving its way into the healthcare industry, and many healthcare facilities are now putting forth efforts to integrate social elements into their mix.
One healthcare organization that is leading the social charge is the Mayo Clinic Center for Social Media. They will be offering their first Social Media Residency program in October. These classes are approved for 12.25 Continuing Medical Education (CME) credit hours and will provide hands-on social media experience, helping participants to quickly implement social media strategies in their own healthcare organizations. Their website “About Us” page defines themselves as:
“The Mayo Clinic Center for Social Media exists to improve health globally by accelerating effective application of social media tools throughout Mayo Clinic and spurring broader and deeper engagement in social media by hospitals, medical professionals and patients.”
Outside of the medical facilities themselves there are many healthcare related social media outlets where many people are conversing and embracing the benefits. From being able to check on the condition of loved ones under medical care, to connecting with other people that are experiencing (or have experienced) similar situations, these outlets are providing a place where the sensitive nature of healthcare can be discussed openly.
A company called CaringBridge was founded by CEO Sona Mehring after the tragic loss of her friend’s baby. Before the baby’s passing, Mehring created a website to keep friends and loved ones involved, and in the know of the baby’s condition. Even though it was a very sad outcome in the end, she saw the positive nature of the social experience that cumulated and created CaringBridge to give other people the ability to do the same. She wanted to merge the cold and impersonal nature of technology with a human element where grieving people could connect in a very emotional way. She coined the term “compassion technology” back in 1997, long before many of today’s familiar social channels were in place.
When a co-workers daughter was involved in a very serious accident some years ago, CaringBridge was our resource to stay tuned to her status during the critical phase, and as she made the slow progression back to health. It was a place where people could relay their sympathies and provide words of encouragement, as well as group together to organize a fund to help pay for the medical expenses.
In a survey by the National Research Corporation, one in every five Americans uses social media as a source for healthcare information. 94% of the those respondents said that they used Facebook to gather information on their healthcare, while 32% utilized YouTube’s resources and 18% used Twitter for their information gathering. Research from ForeSee Results claims that 18% of website visitors said that social media content, such as a Tweet or a friend’s comment on Facebook, prompted them to visit the company’s URL.
A healthcare company’s social media channels can help their brand stand out within the search engine results, showing people that they are truly a trusted source of information, and the place to go when their healthcare services are needed. As today, search is now blended with sponsored listings, blog content, product review sites, forums, news, video, images and social networking sites.
A healthcare organization’s social media goals should include using it as an education platform, where their hospital and doctors can provide their wealth of medical knowledge and relevant content to potential future patients. Social media can also be a source of inspirational stories and positive news pertaining to various health conditions, letting readers know that they are not alone in their times of need.
While everybody is looking for the ROI for investments in social media, the ROI can also mean “Risk Of Inaction”. Your organization is already being discussed by others throughout the social media universe, and it should be your company’s voice that is responding to these conversations. Negative information can have an impact on any business, but nothing hits home harder than the quality care of our loved ones.
Hey doctor, it doesn’t hurt when I go “LIKE” this…