Is “Social Media” all the rage in the communications arena? Yes and no. Many organizations recognize its value, and it is rapidly becoming a necessity within many industries. However, the healthcare industry is still playing tug-o-war with social media (the reason why I referenced “tug-o-war” is because it’s fun, but it can also be dangerous, and this is exactly how doctors, nurses, practitioners and healthcare executives often view social media).
That’s where we come in. It’s our role to take the danger and fear factor out the use of social media within the healthcare industry. At Mason, we encourage our healthcare clients to embrace it once we help them do their homework and implement a clear social media policy.
Through my daily search of healthcare topics in the social media world, I came across an excerpt from a blog post by a patient with Type 1 Diabetes, and it really caught my eye. He truly communicated the importance of social media as a means to connect with and provide additional support to healthcare patients as a whole.
When it comes to healthcare, the “customers” can be considered the patients, and social media gives these customers a chance to talk… I mean really talk. The blog post refers to the dialogue between patients sharing stories as being “unfiltered and unafraid.” That’s exactly what healthcare influencers need to hear. Social media gives patients a chance to share first-hand experiences, provide feedback to healthcare organizations and connect with others who understand exactly what they are going through.
One thing doctors and nurses should understand is that nobody is looking for social media to replace professional medical advice. Rather, patients want to know who is behind their healthcare. They want to know they are not alone, and they want to be inspired.
On the other end, from a corporate healthcare perspective, social media is a way to get involved, to connect with your “customers” and truly make your mark in your industry in a memorable way. Your patients may throw away the materials and pamphlets provided to them. Since it’s one-sided, sometimes this form of communication just isn’t personal enough. Materials are the Formal Handshake, where social media is the High-Five. Patients want to feel connected, and they want to belong. They want to share, engage and discuss.
It’s time for the healthcare industry to stop the tug-o-war battle, and start welcoming the social media strategy because when done right, it’s truly meaningful – and fun – and NOT dangerous.