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Posted on 10.21.2010

New Uses for Social Media in Healthcare

I was honored to have the opportunity to speak to representatives from some of the nation’s best hospitals and healthcare companies earlier this week at the Modern Healthcare Best Places to Work Conference in Dallas, Texas.  I presented on the topic of “Communications in a New World” and discussed the realities of internal and external communications in the age of social media.

In chatting with a few attendees at the awards dinner later that night, several people commented on the slides I shared showing innovative and non-traditional ways hospitals are using social media.  Certainly, marketing service lines, building affinity groups and promoting clinical experts are excellent reasons to get into social media.  But many providers are realizing that briefing online communities about operational, competitive and even regulatory issues can be a valuable component of an outreach plan.
  • Several hospitals in communities experiencing weather disasters (like Innovis Health in Fargo) have turned to social media sites when land lines and email services have gone down after hurricanes, floods and tornadoes (TIP: social media should be included in your hospital’s disaster planning, too).
  • The CEO of Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center in Boston used his Running A Hospital blog to gather feedback and creative ideas from employees when economic realities in early 2009 were leading to a potential layoff of 600 employees.  As a result of the innovative thinking and generous solidarity of employees, BIDMC was able to trim the layoff to 150.
  • Physicians across the country – particularly in specialties like plastic surgery, ophthalmology and dentistry – are using social networks and online marketing programs like Groupon to attract new patients.
  • Tweeting Emergency Room  wait times?
Social media has earned its place in the hospital marketing tool box – but it can be a highly effective resource for healthcare issues management and public relations as well.  Tell us about innovative 2.0 initiatives going on in your hospital or healthcare organization!

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