Hospitals: Is Social Media the Next Dot Com Bust?

flickr: Horia Varlan

No and yes. It depends completely on you.

If you think that you can just throw up a Facebook page and drive patients to your hospital, it’s a bust.

UbiCare, a company that provides social media content for healthcare, tracks Facebook activity at 991 U.S. hospitals and reports weekly on their Engagement Quotient. Between May 22 and 28, 184 of those hospitals did not make a single post to their Facebook page. For them, social media is a bust.

If you think you can bring in a summer intern or hire a college kid to launch and manage your social media effort, it’s a bust.

If you’re primarily interested in social media because you think it’s a cheap way to market your hospital, it’s a bust.

However, if you invest time, energy and resources to draft a clear internal social media/online policy, listen to the online chatter, bring your stakeholders together, understand the ramifications of HIPAA in social media, assess your resources, establish your goals and then launch a Facebook page (only if you really need one), social media can become one of your most powerful tools for building patient loyalty and growing your patient base.

Inova Health System, Swedish, Intermountain Healthcare, Kaiser Permanente, Mayo Clinic and  dozens, maybe hundreds, of other hospitals are having great success leveraging the power of social media as part of their overall marketing effort.

If someone tells you social media is cheap, easy and guaranteed to bring enormous numbers of new patients to your hospital, walk away.

Boom or bust? It’s up to you.

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3 replies
  1. Dan Hinmon
    Dan Hinmon says:

    Thanks for the reminder, Simon, that social media is also about results, and one powerful result is connecting patients directly with health care providers.
    Vince, I think your point is that most hospitals have been slow to adopt social media because of the perceived risks. However, the world of healthcare is definitely all abuzz about social media. Think of this post as a pre-emptive strike at another possible fear.
    Thanks for your comments!

    Reply
  2. Simon Sikorski, M.D. Twitter @medmarketingcoe
    Simon Sikorski, M.D. Twitter @medmarketingcoe says:

    As usual Dan, great article!

    I would only add that in the end what matters most is connecting the patients with the physicians. Having the tracking mechanisms, specific contact information for patients to prospective health care providers / centers of excellence is key to prove ROI.

    Doing anything because it’s a “hype” is just asking for trouble.

    Reply

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