Hospitals hiring social media managers

In an attempt to cultivate closer relations with stakeholders--whether prospective patients or doctors who can make referrals--hospitals are hiring social media managers, American Medical News reports.

Hospitals are heading into the realm of social media, because there's a growing general awareness that "these ways of communications and connecting with each other are transforming" hospitals and their relationships, Robert Matney, a partner at Austin, Texas-based consulting firm Social Web Strategies said.

Social media managers help hospitals oversee their social media presence, communicate with patients through social media, and teach physicians--both affiliated and employed--to use social media. At Seattle's Swedish Medical Center, Dana Lewis, an interactive marketing specialist, has trained 100 physicians, including the CEO, on how to post and respond to others' Twitter posts, the legal and ethical rules for doctors on social media, how to communicate with patients through social media and how to use social media to make yourself into a "thought leader" in your field.

As Jewish Hospital Hand Care Center amply demonstrated in August when senior hand specialists live-tweeted during a double-hand transplant surgery, using social media is one way to get the message out about your services. Tweeting and updating Facebook during a radiothon campaign taught Lifespan's Hasbro Children's Hospital that besides possibly boosting the amount of money donated, social media efforts can increase your active fan base.

While it's always tricky to link public relations and marketing to return on investment, Lee Aase, who is director of Mayo Clinic's Center for Social Media, seems convinced there's a tremendous upside.  Among reasons he says hospitals should adopt and embrace social media, he contends that  "as investment approaches zero, return on investment approaches infinity." The programs, such as Facebook and Twitter, generally are free.

To learn more:
- read the American Medical News story