3 ways hospitals use social media to market patient care

With one in five Americans using social media sites as a source of healthcare information, according to a 2011 National Research Corp. Ticker survey, reports Bakersfield Californian, it's no wonder that healthcare institutions are tapping into sites such as Facebook and Twitter to promote better patient care, thereby striking up potential new business. Here are three ways that organizations around the country are using social media.

1. Spreading medical information
Using social media can help healthcare providers and institutions build patient relations in real time. Mercy Children's Hospital in Toledo, Ohio, recently hosted a one-hour Facebook discussion to answer patients' medical questions, according to an NBC24 report. This month's topic was about pediatric eye care, and next month's topic will be about staying hydrated during the summer.

This method also helps combat misinformation found on the web. For instance, Dr. Milan Shah, who specializes in aesthetic and laser medicine, used Facebook and Twitter to answer questions about tattoos in online forums.

2. Promoting new business
Once you've captured people's attention, social media lends itself to attaining new patients.

"Doctors and hospitals have a real opportunity to distinguish themselves as skilled and caring and value-oriented providers," said Mark Brooks, a New York-based consultant on social media, in the Bakersfield Californian article.

For instance, Dr. Edmund Fisher, a Bakersfield facial plastic surgeon, posts Facebook photos to highlight before-and-after shots of face lifts, with the patients' permission.

Having that network of social media users (and would-be patients) allows healthcare organizations to emphasize their accomplishments.

3. Fundraising
And finally, a well-known way to use social media is to fundraise. For example, St. Jude Children's Research Hospital is currently promoting a fundraising concert through social media, encouraging fans to spread the word.

To learn more:
read the a Bakersfield Californian article
here's the St. Jude's press release
read the NBC24 article

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