HealthCamp participants struggle with social media ROI, engagement

Hello to all from HealthCampDC, an "unconference" focused on transforming healthcare through the use of social media. What an amazing group of people here! We've got hospital technology leaders, health publishers, government representatives, consultants and non-profit managers here--all engaged in an earnest struggle to address some big issues coming out of the use of social media.

Conversations are ranging from promoting non-profit healthcare missions on a slim budget to mobile content management to spending stimulus bucks, but a central theme is consumer engagement--how health organizations can get patients engaged in staying well, educating themselves and connecting to their organization.

Many see social media as a great tool for promoting engagement, but they're wracking their brains as to what strategies work, how much to invest in creating social media presences and how to respond to the questions, comments, tweets and more generated by a health social presence.

All of that is well and good. On the other hand, though, healthcare stakeholders are figuring out just how to evaluate whether these efforts generate real ROI for their efforts. Most seem loathe to spend scarce personnel dollars on social media networks unless they can make a strong case for the ROI it provides. But at this point, most aren't sure how to calculate it in the fist place.

That being said, if this group is any indication, social media is going to be a major feature of healthcare consumption in the future. They (and I) believe that it's going to be critical for healthcare organizations to understand how it can help them serve their mission, market themselves and engage patients in managing their own care.

Readers, if you have thoughts on how social media can work for you, critiques of existing models or comments on how you're using these technologies today, I'd love to hear from you. Let's keep the dialogue going. - Anne