Monday, November 17, 2014

Rx for Growth: Healthcare + Social Media

Fact: Looking for health information is the third most popular online activity.

Fact: Two-thirds of internet users look for information on a specific disease or medical condition.

Fact: The day that Facebook altered profile pages to allow members to specify their organ donor-status, 13,054 people registered to be organ donors online in the United States, a 21-fold increase over the daily average of 616 registrations.

Social media and healthcare go along together like peanut butter & jelly. People want to find healthcare information easily. They want to connect with others who share their situation. Before the doctor visit, people want to be aware of their combined symptoms and the conditions possibly connected to them. And while self-diagnosing has never been a reliable method, internet users continue to browse the web for answers.

As a healthcare provider, relaying information and being easily accessible to your patients besides a scheduled appointment is vitally important. It’s something Mayo Clinic has known for years – and why they’ve led the healthcare revolution on social media… to the tune of 772,000 Twitter followers, 498,252 likes on Facebook, with regular YouTube content publishing and additional podcasts and blog posts.

What does it all mean to you?

It’s time to dip a toe into social media. While this doesn’t mean you have to start out huge – Mayo Clinic-style – the benefits associated with an online presence are too valuable not to connect and engage with your patients and community. There is a vast selection of trending social media tools for you to choose from. Besides the classic methods like Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn, opportunities abound. Instagram, Snapchat, StumbleUpon, Pinterest and Reddit are just five of the creative platforms that businesses and healthcare facilities are beginning to use to connect with their community.

  • Instagram: Share photos and short videos online with applied digital filters. Hashtags are used to sort postings.
  • Snapchat: Similar to Instagram, this platform is used to share pictures and short videos. Media is not posted publicly, instead it is shared with contacts for a set time limit.
  • StumbleUpon: Classified as a discovery engine (a type of search engine). Users select interests and rate the websites, photos and videos that appear each time the user "stumbles." Pages with high ratings are shared with like-minded individuals.
  • Pinterest: Users create and share boards with various pinned items such as websites, pages, etc. Boards can be used to develop projects or store pictures.
  • Reddit: Community member-driven news website. Members can submit content, and member votes determine the ranking and position of content within the site.

At the minimum, it is vital for healthcare providers to have an active Twitter account and/or a Facebook page for their patients to connect with.

Stories of Facebook engagement and intervention are everywhere. From the nurse who found out about a patient’s struggle with the anniversary of the day his friend died in his arms, to the trauma teams who were better prepared after learning of the Boston bombings on Facebook.

In fact, Facebook itself is exploring the possibilities of leading online support communities, where Facebook users suffering from the same condition could share stories, commiserate and in theory, improve their quality of life. Whether you choose to go that far – or simply share your thoughts and expertise or provide an avenue for conversation – your patients will find a comfort level when they find you on social media (36% of internet users look online for information about hospitals or other medical facilities).

Social media is not going away. Younger generations who grew up with the internet and social media platforms are now reaching the age of decision about their own healthcare providers. 89% of 18-29 year olds use social media. Being easily accessible to those potential patients on the platforms they use can take you the distance.

However it may develop, the social media-healthcare relationship is just beginning. The Healthcare Hashtag Project tracks where healthcare conversations take place, and when we last checked, healthcare social media buzzed to the tune of 629 million tweets and 11 million topics.

Diseases trending as of presstime:


Your mission is clear: Talk the talk. Let your voice be heard and provide your community with the answers they are searching. Be active and reachable on the accounts you have.

Wondering how to be part of the conversation? We’re fluent in tweets, posts, pins, messaging, tagging, hashtags and simple text – time to find out where you fit in. Contact Cheryl Neumann, [email protected] or 309-346-2512.