Hospitals' commitment to social media grows

Hospitals in Ohio are spending more money and resources on social media but also say they don't have the staff and time needed to use social media effectively.

Those are the findings of a new study by the Ohio Hospital Association and MindSet Digital, a Columbus, Ohio-based social media strategy and training firm.

The two research partners at the firm initially assessed Ohio hospitals' social media communication strategies in 2012. The latest report compares how those strategies and the time and effort put into social media have changed over the past three years.

Some of the findings include:

  • More than half of the 83 hospitals surveyed focus between 10 percent and 50 percent of their communication efforts on social media. Three years ago, that figure was less than 10 percent.
  • About half expect to increase their spending on social media by 10 percent or more. In 2012, hospitals expected spending to stay about the same.
  • About one-third have full-time employees dedicated to social media communication.
  • Facebook was by far the most important social media channel, followed by YouTube and Twitter. LinkedIn, blogging and Instagram are growing in importance, according to the study's authors.

Hospitals reported they used the platforms to raise health awareness in the community, as well as for branding, marketing and fundraising.

While hospital marketing leaders note that social media has helped them promote health-oriented events, such as a sponsored road races, they also say they have to balance marketing and patient privacy in online posts.

Meanwhile, many doctors use their own time and social media accounts to connect with patients, Columbus CEO reported.

Cardiologist Anne Albers, M.D., of OhioHealth Heart and Vascular Physicians, conducts live Google hangouts about heart health, and shares content from her heart-health blog on her Twitter account, according to the article. Breast surgeon Kristine Slam, M.D., of Central Ohio Surgical Associates, told the publication she uses Facebook to connect with her patients, who ask questions and share photos and stories of their post-surgical lives. She also shares general health information on her page.

Twitter is the social media of choice for many healthcare providers, FierceHealthcare previously reported. The number of healthcare professionals using Twitter has skyrocketed from 23 in 2006 to 75,000 today.

For more:
- check out the study findings (.pdf)
- read the Columbus CEO article