Aug 15

Social Media Journey

social media journey (1 of 1)


Social media is like every eHealth project, it’s about clinical transformation over a period of time not just an app you can turn on. A healthcare business, when starting on the social media journey, must not expect instant success. Even if your first social media campaign is excellent and well received, a good social media program will only be effective when you have established that connection between your business and the population you are looking after.


3 major things that Social Media will achieve for your organization.

  • Business – Many Healthcare organizations are using social media to promote their business by connecting with the community and patients; marketing products, services and promotions; news about activities and fund-raising; and providing customer service and support.
  • Professional Networking and Education. The most popular social media sites are those where they can participate in online communities to discuss business and clinical issues and gain access to experts.
  • Patient Care, Patient Education and Public Health Programs. Evidence indicates that electronic communication with patients can improve their care and health outcomes however there is still major resistance to use this platform for direct patient care.

3 major lessons we have learned about Social Media in Healthcare

  • Check the legislation in your country on patient privacy and health information especially in relation to social media.
  • Establish an acceptable employee use policy for social media and clearly communicate the policy to all staff. This will help to ensure you avoid breaches of patient privacy, violation of professional boundaries, licensing or legal issues and help to minimize the risk of you publishing poor quality content and protect against damage to your professional image.
  • Put technology in place that controls and monitors social media communications in real-time and flags any posts that contain certain key words or phrases for review before they can be posted.

There are success stories. The uptake in third-world countries seems to have the most impact allowing connections between local clinicians with specialists in more medically advanced locations.  For example, surgical procedures can be streamed via the Internet and questions can be asked via Twitter in real time allowing the exchange of medical information faster than was ever possible. The heart valve team at Jewish Hospital in the US streamed and tweeted a Transcatheter Aortic Valve Replacement on April 2, 2015. An experienced heart specialist provided updates on Twitter and answered questions; they were not part of the surgical team.

The CDC maintains an active presence on Twitter and Facebook to track “tweets” that might indicate a flu outbreak and to share updates about such incidents.

There are also resources to help you, the Mayo Clinic established the Social Media Health Network in 2010. In addition to its presence on Facebook, YouTube, and Twitter, it provides access to resources, blog posts, podcasts, conferences, and webinars to help others healthcare organizations on their social media journey.

Many social media tools are available for healthcare, although the main ones used would be Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, Instagram and blogs.  However the uptake of social media in healthcare has been definitely slower than other industries. This is changing with some healthcare businesses seeing opportunities to serve their patients and staffs better, both for the greater good of the population, as well as all building trust within the community and enhancing their brand.


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