The room was filled with lots of eager participants, ready to hear our Moderator Alexandra Hughes (@AlexHughes01) lead our panel; Ted Eytan (@tedeytan), Alex Bornkessel (@SocialBttrfly) and Danielle Leach (@TeamInspire), as they discussed Health and Social Media.
The theme of the evening was centered around using social media in new ways to engage patients while they are well, rather than waiting until they are sick.
The panel started by talking about how healthcare providers can start implementing social media in their interaction with patients. A lot of organizations get caught up in what tool they will use, rather than focusing in on a goal and then making the goal work for their purposes. Not every tool will be appropriate for every audience. It is important to have a clear end goal and then build your social strategy around that.
Some organizations only go into social media when they want to avert or address a crisis. At that point there is not much impact that they can have unless the organization has previously been online. Ted introduced the concept of building up a ‘bank of good will’ by having an established presence in the social space and a relationship with patients.
- @ekivemark: #smcdc bank of goodwill. Don’t go to SocMed to protect yourself. You should already be there building goodwill.
From a pure communications standpoint, social media provides healthcare providers with an opportunity to get a lot of information out in a short period of time. Rather than being afraid of talking to people, they have the opportunity to join in conversations that are already taking place.
So how do you implement social media strategies and tools? One of the main tasks is to get the leadership on board so that they work with you, not against you. The second major step will be to find a way to engage your audience on whatever platforms that you choose to use.
@smcdc: Build some incentive in your social media plan/tool to encourage people to participate #smcdc
Mobile technology is increasingly favored by physicians, especially those who want instant access to patient records in a light, portable form. It opens up new opportunities to reach people who have little or no access to computers but are constantly attached to their phones.
@districtjoe: Interesting point that moving to digital records forces doctors to think about their patients even when they’re not in their office #smcdc
The reality is that there are still large groups of people with little or no access to any technology. Another group is those who have access to technology but have no idea how to use it. These individuals on the other side of the digital divide present a challenge because they cant just be ignored. In order to be a healthcare system that cares and works for everyone there is a need to look at reaching people on both sides of the digital divide.
More people are looking for public health information than they realize. They are talking about their personal experiences with illness, their doctors and the drugs they are using, as well as learning from other people.
While they value what they are learning from each other, there is still a hunger for authoritative medical information. People say their doctor is still the number one source that they want to get their information from. The problem is that very few actually reach out to their physicians outside their regular appointments.
Organizations that are successful in implementing a social media strategy externally also have to walk the talk internally, doing what they ask others to. A lot of conversation needs to take place around what is needed to bring everyone on board and make the strategy work. What tools does the organization use to foster social interaction, and are they working? What fears does the organization have about participating in new media? Bring all these issues out on the table so that they can be addressed.
@smcdc: Highlight other people who are using social media well as examples of what your company could do @TeamInspire#smcdc
Healthcare organizations have built in content in the form of their patients experiences. Find non-threatening ways to invite them to share their stories and perspectives, e.g. using third parties, surveys, or fliers. Its not a good idea for physician to be directly involved in asking patients to do this since it could potentially be misconstrued as using their authority to force participation.
A special thanks to our moderator and panelists:
- Alexandra Hughes (@AlexHughes01; http://smexchange.ogilvypr.com)
- Ted Eytan, MD (@tedeytan; http://www.tedeytan.com)
- Alex Bornkessel (@SocialBttrfly; http://www.fly4change.com)
- Danielle Leach (@TeamInspire; http://www.inspire.com)
We would also like to thank Spectrum Science (@SpectrumScience; http://www.spectrumscience.com/blog) for graciously hosting the event at their offices.