How social media can extend the care experience

While shared medical appointments offer patients with like conditions the ability to support and learn from one another in person, emerging social media platforms can offer similar benefits from a distance. What's more, medical practices that embrace this trend can achieve better patient engagement while delivering a strong marketing message, according to an article from Gastroenterology & Endoscopy News.

In the GI arena, examples of Facebook-like sites that allow patients and organizations to connect include RA Connection, GI Connection and Chronology. Cancer Connect is another popular online community, with the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute, Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center and Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center among the institutions that use the site to offer patients and families additional support.

In addition, the site offers healthcare organizations unique branding opportunities. "On a practice's website, Cancer Connect is part of the patients' experience as it relates to that particular institution, an approach that may improve patient retention, increase patient referrals and enhance patient satisfaction," Charles Weaver, M.D., an oncologist and founder of Cancer Connect, told attendees at the 2014 GI Roundtable.

And while social media and the way healthcare organizations use it continues to evolve, experts contend that it's a mistake for providers to not get involved. "Historically, we've focused on the intervention, but patients want us to connect with them before they arrive at the clinic or hospital," M. Bridget Duffy, M.D., chief medical officer at Vocera Communications, said at the conference. "They want us to understand their preferences; they want a personalized plan and a path to their well-being; and they want a connectivity after they leave."

To learn more:
- read the article