The Importance of Building Communities of Shared Interests

Last year I gave a talk at the 2013 Pelvic Health Conference in Denver, Colorado, and my focus was on the need for healthcare marketers to build communities of shared interest. These are niche online communities that give patients the opportunity to engage with others who are going through, or have gone through, similar circumstances.

When you get a diagnosis or are facing a significant health issue, it is natural to want to seek out others who have faced the same set of challenges. The experience, support and guidance of members of disease–specific online patient support community can be invaluable. Someone diagnosed with a rare disease or chronic condition can potentially find community among the group members.

If the healthcare organization is part of the community, it has the opportunity to inject high quality information and medical expertise, and make available important resources for those visiting the community. Ideally, in this scenario, the provider is the host and the facilitator, making the interactions possible – helping to create community. Read more

Hospitals: Four Steps To Manage Your Social Media in 10 Hours a Week

If you have been half-heartedly dabbling in social media for your hospital or clinic, I have some important news for you: It’s time to get in or get out.

I understand that your day is already packed with too much to do, and that you’ve been trying to squeeze in social media wherever it will fit. But a sloppy approach to social media doesn’t help anybody. You’re never going to build the vibrant community you want, and it just feels crummy to know you’re doing sub-par work. Read more

The Future of Health Care (Marketing) Is Community

flickr: alicegop

I’m presenting at the 4th Annual Health Care Social Media Summit October 16-18. My topic is Health Care Reform Meets Social Media: Cultivating Online Communities to Prevent and Manage Illness.*

We settled on this topic last March, and I’ve been thinking a lot about it since – and doing a ton of research, including interviews with some of the people most involved in online communities.

I have become more and more convinced that the future of health care itself, and marketing specifically, lies in community. Here’s why. Read more

Physicians: E-Engagement Can Boost Quality Ratings from Patients

flickr: Steve Snodgrass

When my mom, who has dementia, broke her hip and required surgery, I was allowed into the surgical prep area. The nurse even gave me a marker and invited me to write on my mom’s leg as a safety step to make sure they operated on the correct one.

It felt odd at first, but that one invitation–to mark the leg for surgery–gave me greater confidence in the hospital and staff. They engaged me, as a family member, as a partner in my mom’s safety, and it made a difference to my perception of the quality of care my mom would experience at their facility.

Engagement of family members and patients doesn’t have to be such an overt physical act, such as marking a leg. Engagement could be an invitation to read information about post-surgical expectations, watch a video demonstration or talk with the surgeon before the procedure, or hear from former patients who’ve had the procedure. And many of these invitations to engage can take place online. Read more