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We're All Social Now!

Why does 'social' matter in health care?  Imagine moving to a new town and needing a pediatrician for your kids.  You ask a few new friends and coworkers, who all say "Dr. Smith is the best."  Then you see a hospital's newspaper ad introducing Dr. Jones.

4 personal recommendations for Dr. Smith, an ad for Dr. Jones. Which do you select?

When Geek Squad founder Robert Stephens says "Advertising is the price you pay for a bad idea." he's saying that we're more likely to act on information from our social networks than from old-style interruption advertising.

The fact that conversations now occur electronically instead of over the back fence doesn't change the inescapable fact: we are social creatures.  We think socially, we learn socially and we act socially.

By one estimate, roughly 1,000 hospitals have some social media presence.  How many truly ACT socially when nurses are trusted with critically-ill patients but not with Twitter?  

I'm sure the same mentally-constipated debates were had over internet access in the 1990s, TVs in patient rooms in the 1950s, even telephones in the '30s. 

"Who needs those newfangled things anyway?  Imagine the time-wasting possibilities, the risks, the distractions!"

If you can't trust your nurses with Twitter, do you really have the right nurses?

I'd welcome your thoughts and comments.  Connect with me on Twitter - @whatifwhynot


Camille said…
Great post! I know it's not always this "cut and dry" but, if a nurse knows the rules as they apply to in-person interaction, why can't they be trusted to apply the same rules in the online world?

I read your post to my husband to see what a "non-healthcare" person would think. He made several interesting points but I will share the one that kept us talking about this for over an hour. :)

Here is his point in a nutshell: Social media allows you to know know your customers better. It gives organizations a certain amount of access and brand control. At the end of the day, that can be leveraged to make more $ and give more/better care. But, companies also know that their employees know them. Employees know the good and the bad. The reality is, every hospital is not a perfectly run organization. Clinicians can be overworked and under-resourced and that is equally threatening in the social media realm. For example, all it takes is one employee having a bad day to "air your dirty laundry", and that freedom can cost the organization. Yes, you can train your employees on social media 101 etiquette, etc, all in an effort to make them a part of the conversations happening online. But, that requires an investment of money. Some leaders may not think that the investment is worth the risk. The bigger fear for them may be..."What happens if I do this and it DOESN'T get me any more patients/market share/money than I have now. Worse, what if I lose patients/market share/money?"
(End of his thoughts)... :)

I don't think the reasons are always straightforward on either sides of the argument. People let their fear of the unknown retard their progress all the time. But how do we change that when some leaders have been trained to look at everything (staffing, marketing, etc) from a "dollars and cents" viewpoint?

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