Today, we kick off our blog series regarding social media and its uses in healthcare. This is the first of four posts on the topic, and I think it makes sense to layout a roadmap so we can all understand where this blog series is going. Below is a brief outline of what each post will touch on, just so you don’t get the idea that I’m rambling without a goal or purpose.
I. Current Use/Statistics (7/6/10)
II. Organization/Legal Issues/Fears/Questions (7/8/10)
III. Doctor-Patient Relationship (7/13/10)
IV. Recap/Look into the Future (7/15/10)
As I mentioned in the previous post, a lot of this information is drawn from a social media panel discussion hosted by Meers Advertising at Children’s Mercy Hospital in Kansas City, MO. If you haven’t already watched the recorded video of the event, you should definitely take a look here. There is a lot of information to get through in four posts, so I figured we would keep it somewhat simple with the first post. The goal today is to paint a picture of how social media is currently being used in healthcare. The plan is to stay away from a lot of analysis or predicting, and really just get a feel for what’s being done in the field. This is going to require looking at a lot of statistics, but please hang with me… having a better understanding of the status quo is extremely important in understanding why or why not social media will work for healthcare professionals and how it can best be used.
When I first started researching this topic for the social media panel discussion, I watched a short YouTube video called, “Social Media in Healthcare” that had some pretty interesting facts (you can view this video at the bottom of the page). The original video is somewhat dated, but it has been updated with some new numbers. I’ll sum up some of the key points below:
- 60 million consumers interact and discuss their health-care online
- Roughly 1,200 Facebook pages advocate finding a cure for an illness
- 72% of patients say they researched their symptoms before visiting their doctor
- 93% of e-patients say internet provided them with health care information they needed
- 80% of internet users have looked online for health information
Source: Q1 Productions
These statistics highlight a very important point. Whenever I speak with a prospective client, I’m usually asked, “Why does it matter if I participate in social media?” I always try to help those who ask this question realized one thing: Your brand, your product, your service is already a part of social media. The question those people should be asking isn’t why they should participate, but whether or not they are willing to allow others to lead the discussion regarding their brand, product, or service. Most of the time, that answer is “no”, and it’s clear from the above statistics that the same situation holds true in healthcare, even though the goals may be different from a for-profit business. Even if healthcare professionals don’t use social media, 60 million consumers make sure the conversation continues to take place online.
I also came across a great presentation put together by Carolyn Grisko & Associates, Inc. called “Healthcare & Social Media: 2009 Trends and Strategy” (You can view this presentation at the bottom of the page). The entire presentation is great, but the information presented on slides 5-7 is key. Look at these statistics regarding how Americans search the internet:
- 36% want to see what other consumers think about medication or treatment
- 34% use social media
- 46% use health care portals
Source:”How America Searches: Health and Wellness“- survey by Opinion Research Corp.
These two sets of statistics clearly show that people are using social media to get their hands on healthcare information. But how have hospitals, doctors, etc. responded to these facts? I stumbled across a great blog post on Top Rank Online Marketing Blog called, “5 Examples of Social Media in Healthcare Marketing”.
The 5 examples mentioned are:
- Live Procedures (This is something that we have been contacted about. A hospital wanted to use our Intefy product to allow medical students to watch a live surgery and ask an observing doctor questions via Twitter or chat)
- Train Medical Personnel
- Reach Mainstream Media That Use Social Media
- Communicate in Times of Crisis
- Provide Accurate Information to Patients (With With such a large amount of health information available on the web, it may be hard to determine the accuracy or trustworthiness of a source)
There has also been a growth in Twitter accounts, blogs, forums, and networks focused on healthcare. It is clear that social media is becoming more and more important for healthcare providers. There are resources available at the end of this post.
Now that we have a little better mental picture and understanding of how social media is used by healthcare professionals, we can look forward to understanding how these professionals go about organizing a social media strategy and what sort of legal and regulatory issues must be considered by the healthcare field in regards to the use of social media. Look for that post to be available on Thursday, July 8.
- @healthsocmed– hosts an online discussion regarding social media in healthcare (#hcsm) Sundays at 8pm CST