While it’s easy to identify demand, many healthcare marketers are not exactly sure how they might tap into the social web to reach business goals. To help understand the possible applications, consider these examples of how the social web can work for hospitals and others in the healthcare industry:
Reach Mainstream Media
70% of journalists now use social networks to assist reporting, compared to 41% the year before, according to a Middleberg Communications survey reported by PRWeek. With numbers that high, it only makes sense for healthcare marketers to leverage social media channels in order to achieve coverage by both mainstream media and industry publications.
As part of healthcare marketing efforts, organizations can use social media channels – including blogs, forums and microblogs – to share success stories from out-of-the-ordinary operations or treatments, medical research or other signiﬁcant achievements. For example, when Aurora Health Care tweeted a knee operation in April, it received signiﬁcant media attention, both from mainstream media and industry publications including Good Morning America, the local Milwaukee public radio network and Hospital Management Magazine.
Communicate in Times of Crisis
When disaster strikes hospitals and healthcare providers are at the center of it all. Healthcare providers can leverage social media networks to provide real-time updates both for those directly affected by the crisis and those watching from afar.
During the November Fort Hood shooting attack, Steven Widman of Scott & White Healthcare – one of the hospitals that treated Fort Hood victims, used Twitter to provide up-to-the-minute news.
Through Twitter, Widman provided updates on emergency room access and hospital operation status, re-tweeted news from Red Cross and communicated with reporters.
Twitter followers increased 78% in just three days.
Scott & White Healthcare was listed on the front page of Twitter as a “trending topic” The hospital’s YouTube channel was ranked the 79th most viewed non-proﬁt channel during the entire week surrounding the crisis.
Provide Accurate Information to Patients
73% of patients search for medical information online before or after doctors visits, according to HealthCare New Media Conference. With the magnitude of health information available on the web – both accurate and inaccurate – it’s likely that these patients can easily be misinformed.
By integrating social media into the healthcare marketing mix, organizations can share accurate, timely information regarding symptoms, diseases, medications, treatments and more. Social sites like Inspire are providing a forum for patients to share their health problems and questions about treatments with other patients, as well as qualiﬁed medical personnel.