The 3 Social Media Platforms Your Health Care Organization Needs to Be Using
The social media industry has vastly been expanding during recent years. Facebook, which began with 5 million users in 2005, today has more than 845 million participants and that trend doesn’t seem to show signs of slowing.
While retail and hospitality industries quickly saw the potential in sharing, liking and following, the health care sector was one that was slow to adapt. That is slowly changing, however.
According to a recent survey by PwC’s Health Research Institute (HRI), hospitals, insurers and pharma manufacturers can benefit greatly from jumping onto the social media bandwagon. HRI found that one-third of consumers are using social media for health-related matters. That’s 1,060 adults in the U.S. alone that can be reached.
The virtual aspect of social media enhances communications by creating an open, often anonymous space for engaging and exchanging information.
“People like to access and connect with other people’s stories, even if they’re unwilling to share their own,” said Ellen Beckjord, assistant professor at the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center, in the report. Beckjord’s research has focused on how making health information available electronically can affect disease management.
But which platforms are the most instrumental to use during this shift in health care? According to HRI, they are Facebook, Youtube and Twitter.
“Facebook is turning into a behind-the-scenes customer service forum for answering people’s questions,” stated Ryan Paul, social media specialist at Children’s Hospital Boston, in the report. “When people have trouble finding what they need on our website (or sometimes they don’t even check the website), they will come to Facebook and ask for help, including how to change an appointment, how to find a certain doctor, etc.”
Facebook has numerous uses for a health care organization besides branding. Take Mercy, for example. They are creating an application that allows people to “share” their doctors on Facebook, and the physician’s Mercy profile will appear on an individual’s Facebook page. This turns social media into business strategy.
Social giant YouTube is one of the most commonly used channels for viewing health-related information. Major health care companies such as Kaiser Permanente and Elekta are using YouTube to provide insight into their organizations, offer vital health advice and share breaking news updates in the industry, such as the recent Ebola epidemic.
Twitter has shown tremendous growth since its inception, reporting 460,000 new accounts created on average per day. The platform offers physicians the ability to connect with patients on a more personal level and answer their questions and/or concerns promptly.
For example, Josh Goldstein, director of social media at Thomas Jefferson University Hospitals, was monitoring the hospital’s brand on Twitter and saw that a patient was complaining of his long wait time.
Upon looking into the matter, it was discovered that the patient had not signed in at the computer kiosk. Within a matter of minutes, the hospital was able to resolve the matter.
The health care industry is built upon relationships, so it only makes sense that social media should not just be looked at as a technology and process, but rather a capability that can help drive connections more effectively.