Running a healthcare organization is already a complex job. According to some experts, it is getting more complicated. Beyond operations, budgets, marketing, personnel, and regulatory compliance issues, now executives and managers must consider social networking.
According to a Forbes blog interview with cardiologist Dr. Kevin Campbell, who is active on broadcast media and on social media, patients can improve their health though smart use of social media. That is because outlets like Twitter, Facebook, and blogs can provide information that is critical to patients.
Social media provides patients an opportunity to easily interact with physicians, nurses and other patients. Blogging sites afford patients with the opportunity to express opinions and share “patient experiences.” These often provide patients with a great source of information about a particular physician, hospital or procedure. Twitter allows patients to interact and discuss conditions and experiences in “real time”.
Care-providing organizations have also begun to use social media as a way to help patients, according to Shannon Dosemagen, director of community engagement, education and outreach of Public Laboratory for Open Technology and Science and Lee Aase, director of the Mayo Clinic Center for Social Media and its Social Media Health Network. “Social media has provided a space to share preventative information and enabled the creation of support structures to track personal health and build patient-to-patient support networks post-diagnosis,” they wrote in an article.
Communications is a foundation of any form of treatment, preventative action, or awareness, and social media provides new tools for enabling better availability of information. However, there are potential issues. One is that social media enables two-way communications and anyone can begin to spread information. There have been many cases where people who are more skilled at social media than science and fact have disseminated significant amounts of misinformation about diet, vaccines, and other topics. This will happen in any case, so part of the responsibility of care organizations becomes helping to correct the record and offer the best levels of help and guidance possible. Correct use of social media became an important part of fighting the Ebola crisis a couple of years ago.
There are other considerations as well, including managing privacy issues that can come about from media sharing including maintaining a brand and balancing the voices of both the institution and the employees. Creating an effective and safe social media strategy is not something that happens by delegating the Twitter feed to someone junior. All managers must understand how the technology plays into strategy and learn how to make it work for patients and the organization.
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