Connecting with patients as well as maintaining the flow of communication between medical professionals is crucial to the success of a hospital on many different levels. Using social media effectively improves the hospital's relationship with the public, draws in potential patients, increases the satisfaction of current patients, and improves patient care by allowing medical professionals to successfully interact and share information. The following are three areas where hospitals can improve their performance by using social media to their advantage.
1. Promote the Hospital's Brand as well as Individual Physicians
All aspects of social media, including Twitter, Facebook, YouTube, and LinkedIn, can enable a hospital to not only market effectively and reach potential customers, but do it in a way that promotes the hospital's brand. This means that instead of just mindlessly posting blogs, tweets, and videos, a strategy is developed and adhered to. An example would be promoting a specific service a hospital provides by having a former patient share his or her personal story in an online You Tube video. Instead of snail-mailing pamphlets on the in-services that will be featured on newborn care, promotional material can be posted on Facebook and followed up on in the weekly blog.
While using all these methods of social media, it's important to maintain a standard to keep with the hospital's brand as much as possible. This means using a cross-over approach. An example would be taking blurbs from some of the YouTube clips and posting them on the Hospital Twitter feed or Facebook page. Some hospitals are now even using social media to broadcast surgical procedures. Tweeting live procedures or presenting them on YouTube are platforms that hospitals can use to promote both the hospital and specific physicians.
2. Manage a Comprehensive Medical Imaging Program
Whether it's mammograms, ultrasounds, CAT or MRI scans, digital imaging is an invaluable component used in hospitals. Managing a comprehensive imaging program means implementing software that will help physicians more easily monitor the overall care of patients. In simplest terms, radiology information system involves making sure the correct images arrive at the right places at the right time. In recent years it has become possible to implement this type of comprehensive digital imaging program using social media.
Various images, such as MRIs and x-rays, can be shared from physician's workstations to social media platforms. It is also possible to upload images to Twitter and Facebook accounts in a secure manner that is HIPAA compliant. Radiologists and physicians can share these images on social medial for teaching purposes and second opinions. Hospitals can now access literally millions of medical images through Facebook. The images can be anonymized before they are posted for security purposes.
3. Provide Accurate Information to Patients
Most hospitals now have a blog. How current and useful the information may be is another matter. Maintaining an engaging and relevant blog is one way to reach out to prospective as well as current patients. Whether the content is outsourced or written by staff members, it's important to present material that's not only important to patients but represents the skills and services provided by the hospital. For example, if a hospital specializes in burn treatments it's important to present articles discussing everything from how to treat minor burns at home to the latest cutting edge techniques physicians are using in the burn center.
These are just a few of the ways that hospitals can use social media to their advantage. With the 18 to 30 age group spending an increasing amount of time on social media, the necessity of using these various platforms, as well as new opportunities to expand its use, are likely to grow exponentially during the next few years.