Well, this is it. The end of the road. It’s been an interesting two weeks. I have spent a lot of time researching for this blog series and have learned ALOT! Following the last post, I took a look over all three previous posts. I’m still amazed by the numbers. It is obvious that the healthcare industry is beginning to change and adopt social media on a much grander scale than originally anticipated. Lets briefly review what we’ve learned so far from the last few blog posts.
Before attending the social media panel discussion hosted by Meers Advertising, I hadn’t given social media in healthcare much thought. After listening to the great presentations (watch the whole video here), I had to research more, and what I found was incredible. Take a look back at some of the statistics from post one. The numbers are simply staggering. The fact of the matter is, that healthcare has invaded nearly every area of the online world including forums, blogs, information portals, Facebook, and Twitter. You can now very easily, and apparently most people do, go online and find information from doctors and other patients about various diseases and symptoms. You can even go online and find reviews for various doctors and hospitals, and you can even schedule an appointment online!
In preparing for the second post, I really had no clue why it was such a big deal for doctors, hospitals and other healthcare providers to participate in social media. After taking a much longer than desired look into HIPAA, I understood why it was such a problem. There can be such a gray area between what is appropriate to post online and what isn’t…and the ramifications are very serious. However, one of the main things I have taken away from this experience is that the benefits greatly outweigh the work and caution that has to be put into monitoring what information is communicated and what is kept private.
Post three really drives this message home. We simply interact with each other in different ways today than we used to. Ben Dillon, one of the speakers form the panel discussion, summed it up well when he said that conversations and information that used to be shared over the dinner table or telephone are not posted as status updates and posts to Facebook. While the general population has a much easier time adopting this new means of communication, it is important that the healthcare industry do the same. The are so many opportunities available to increase the level of care and attention a patient receives. This is one of the topics I want to briefly touch on today.
So we know what social media in healthcare looks like today, but what about tomorrow? Will providers continue to embrace social media or will the next nurse firing for posting something on a blog scare everyone away? There is no way of answering this, but it is clear that as patients continue to seek more information through social networks, more information will have to be provided. And the best way to ensure that correct information is available is for that content to be created by the experts.
I found two great articles addressing the future of social media in healthcare. The first is from Top Rank Online Marketing Blog entitled, 5 Examples of Social Media in Healthcare Marketing. The second is from iHealthBeat.org and is entitled Social Media in Healthcare: Barriers and Future Trends. If you have some extra time, check them out. They discuss great innovations such as showcasing live procedures online (imagine if you could watch a video of a real procedure before having to have it yourself, and ask the doctor questions while he’s performing!), social media use by providers, and the expansion of forums and information sites. The future is exciting, and seeing some of the ways the social media is already being used in healthcare, I can’t wait to see what happens next!