The Evolving Role of Social Media in Healthcare
Like most technology, social media is constantly evolving to fit into everyday activities. Now, social media is no longer an optional marketing tool for companies, especially healthcare.
But why is it still treated like an option?
Many healthcare organizations are still unclear on how to integrate social media into their marketing campaigns and are fearful of HIPAA regulations affecting patient privacy. Fortunately, these obstacles are easy to overcome by developing guidelines focused on protecting patient privacy.
Social media along with Indianapolis SEO opens up many opportunities for health systems. It allows organizations to build connections, share discoveries, and develop credibility as thought leaders. While other industries care about the amount of likes and followers they obtain, healthcare focuses on the impact created.
The Role of Social Media Today
Patient-Powered Research Networks
Social Media plays an important role in healthcare today as it has an impact on patient empowerment. Patients have untold information about their healthcare experiences at their fingertips and want pass it along to others who are in the same situation. To enable the patient voice, several healthcare organizations have developed tailored social platforms for targeted audiences.
A big reason why healthcare organizations participate in social media is to help educate patients. They want to educate the public on innovative medical cases and more importantly engage consumers. In 2013, St. Vincent Charity Medical Center live tweeted a total knee replacement surgery, in which over 3,800 people followed on Twitter and 3,000 over live-stream video and their hashtag #stvknee was a trending tag throughout the process. The following year, Sunnybrook Hospital in Toronto live tweeted a procedure for a heart bypass.
In relation to live tweeting, healthcare organizations are beginning to utilize hashtags in social updates. Hashtags first became popular on Twitter as they were being used to group together similar topics that use the hash [#] symbol.
With the continuous flow and discovery of health information, hashtags provide patients and physicians with the ability to filter available data and streamline their search. A user can search #healthcaredata, and receive live tweets, accounts, photos, videos, and other relatable posts using that hashtag.
Why Is Social Media in Healthcare Important?
Social media is like a referral site on steroids. Through social interactions, patients have the ability to develop a first impression of a hospital and physician before meeting them [in person].
Patients are using social media to research and make decisions, especially in regards to healthcare. The IMS Institute for Healthcare Informatics, in fact, found that between 70 and 75 percent of US consumers look to the Internet for healthcare advice, of which 40 percent rely on responses from social sites.
Based on this statistic, it should come as no surprise that social media has become the preferred medium for patient-to-physician, physician-to-patient, physician-to-physician, and patient-to-patient communication.