Hospitals and Social Media: Who’s Doing It Right?

Healthcare executives are fast learning that social media is more than just a bunch of silly sounding websites. (I mean, c’mon … Plurk? Fotki?)

More and more, hospitals and other healthcare providers are harnessing the powerful viral punch of social media to connect with patients, extend their brand and build goodwill within their communities.

Here’s where a social media strategy can be particularly impactful:

Customer service – Think of social media sites as a giant comment card or patient satisfaction survey. Proactive hospitals monitor social networks for discussions that patients are having about their care and experiences. Moderators then step in to help and resolve problems.

Community Outreach – A simple Facebook page can become a natural extension of your hospital’s ongoing efforts to “reach and teach” (and, trust us, members of your community are on these sites).

Public Relations – You want your local audience to know the latest updates about your company. The web expands your PR efforts from around the corner to literal across the continent. Take it from a veteran reporter, the media is always out there trolling the Internet for stories and sources.

As I’ve watched the incredible development of hospitals leveraging social media sites, I’ve noticed a few that are doing it particularly well, including these:

The University of California-San Francisco Medical Center successfully used Twitter, Facebook and Farmville to find new donors and raise $1 million for a new children’s hospital.

The University of Maryland Medical System discovered that YouTube is a great place to test the social media waters. The system simply re-posts the extensive video content on its site to YouTube  –  everything from physician profiles and disease overviews to help for caregivers.

Henry Ford Health System in Detroit hosts a series of live surgical Twittercasts (with patient consent). A robotic hysterectomy and robotic partial nephrectomy are among the surgeries covered so far. Tweets provide a running commentary and update of surgery activities, while YouTube video provides snippets of the surgery fed into the Twitter stream. In addition to an estimated 500 followers in attendance, the Twittercasts generated substantial national press coverage.

Check out this link to the nephrectomy site:

Start Talking!

Savvy healthcare executives know that it’s critical to be part of the online conversation. And the smartest ones have found that the conversation increasingly starts on a (silly-sounding) social media site.

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