All businesses must look to the future if they want to survive. But when does the future start? Next decade? Next year? Next week? Tomorrow? No, the future starts in the moment after this one.
That’s why change always seems so ongoing — because it is. We constantly fall into the unknown, which makes keeping up so difficult. That’s particularly true for the healthcare industry, where many years of sleepy sameness was suddenly interrupted by futuristic change. One aspect executives need to grasp is the impact social media have on how people learn about, discuss, and interact with care providers.
The critical nature of the change comes from how millennials — those ranging in age from 18 to 35 — want to interact with healthcare. According to Mark Haddad, a VP of consulting at an IT systems consultancy, millennials want to use technology, particularly online, to get healthcare advice. They want convenience and speed.
To communicate the way millennials do, providers must accept that the territory includes social networks. A good example is how Healthcare.gov relies on social networks to attract more millennials into signing up for healthcare, as Internet Health Management reports.
The Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services, which oversees Healthcare.gov, will use the gaming social media and sharing platform Twitch for marketing campaigns using video ads. The agency has also partnered with several organizations, including the March of Dimes, the National Council of LaRaze, and Planned Parenthood Federation of America, to promote a social media campaign with the hashtag #HealthAdulting. Each of the groups will conduct online chats, provide information, and post videos about choosing and purchasing health insurance.
But social media, particularly for millennials, means more than a series of marketing channels. These platforms also become channels for important information and help to change behavior in a positive way.
Another example is the startup Sickweather, which looks to forecast illnesses on a global basis. It monitors discussions of illness on social media so people can “check for the chance of sickness as easily as you can check for the chance of rain.” A new deal with The Weather Company, which is owned by IBM, will enable a real-time cold and flu tracker on a local level, which could help drive people to getting vaccinations for the latter.
Clearly there are limitations and concerns about privacy. Overstepping boundaries and propriety could happen easily. But that is another argument for why executives need to understand these platforms, how people use them, and what is possible, both good and bad.
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