Time for hospital social media strategy is now

Hospitals and health systems would be wise to start their social media strategy now, if they haven't already, according to a recent white paper by CSC.

"Social media is changing the way organizations think about accomplishing their business objectives," the white paper states. "The train has left the station." Therefore, healthcare organizations should consider what they will do about social media and what to do with social media. In addition to developing a policy for the touted protection against risky inappropriate use, CSC recommends creating a strong social media strategy.

Advising against a wait-and-see approach, the report encourages hospitals and health systems to take a more proactive stance. In addition, social media should not be only a marketing ploy, but rather a way to accomplish strategic organizational goals. For example, Mayo Clinic--arguably one of the leading systems on the cutting edge of healthcare social media with 180,000 Twitter followers and 54,000 Facebook "likes"--doesn't use social media as a sales pitch but rather as a public way to better inform patients.

"If people are only thinking of these as marketing tools, they're missing opportunities," Director of the Mayo Clinic Center for Social Media Lee Aase said in a MedCity News/MinnPost interview yesterday.

Although hospitals have traditionally used social use for marketing and recruiting, other departments also are getting on the bandwagon with reimbursement, finance, clinical improvement, and product development taking a more active role, according to the CSC white paper.

"Organizations 'silo' social media in marketing to their own detriment," according to the report.

Seven out of 10 business executives limited social media to marketing, whereas 16 percent said it was used for IT and 12 percent said for customer service.

Consider the following strategies for using social media to achieve organizational goals:

  • Reputation management/customer service
  • Customer, patient, and professional education
  • Professional collaboration
  • Community creation
  • Wellness
  • Population and patient monitoring
  • Care management/coordination
  • Clinical trial recruitment
  • Surveillance, analysis, product development

For more information:
- check out the white paper (.pdf)
- read the Mayo Q&A

Related Articles:
Mayo Clinic: Don't make social media a sales pitch
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How will social media hold up at hospitals?
Where to draw the line in social media at your hospital
How to create a social media policy for staff