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Taking Social Media Beyond Marketing

From InformationWeek.com: "Many Doctors Don't Take Social Media Beyond Marketing."

Good article with some interesting ideas. I fear our social media strategy has been a mile wide and an inch deep - all things to all people to put it another way. It's time to build useful communities and solve real problems. It's time to get very serious, very targeted, very outcomes-focused and very conversational.

It's time to think and act 'social,' and NOT like we're controlling the conversation (control that we've NEVER possessed, by the way. We just ACTED like we were in control, to our own detriment and that of our patients.) As a communications strategy, "I talk, you listen and do exactly what I say..." is a non-starter. So what should we do?
"Healthcare organizations in the United States should learn from their peers abroad and expand the use of social media beyond marketing functions, suggests a new report from technology consulting firm CSC.  Around the world, CSC researchers found, healthcare has been less proactive than other industries in embracing social media. Within the healthcare sector, hospitals are furthest ahead in using this new method of engaging with consumers.
[...]
"Caitlin Lorincz, a CSC research analyst and a co-author of the report, told InformationWeek Healthcare that doctors are reluctant to engage with patients in social media because they fear that any health-related information they provide could be "taken out of context and interpreted as medical advice." So rather than increase their malpractice liability, they tend to avoid connecting with patients on Facebook and Twitter.
"The CSC report provides examples of healthcare providers that have used social media for a variety of purposes. Among the 15 categories it cites are marketing, workforce recruitment, brand management, reputation management, consumer education, professional education, healthcare community creation, clinical trial recruitment, and research collaboration.
"Despite the reluctance of physicians to get involved, CSC notes that social media can also be useful in patient care. The report specifically mentions activities related to wellness, population and patient monitoring, care management, and care coordination.
"...the University of Iowa Children's Hospital recently launched a Facebook page that seeks to improve medication adherence among teenage kidney transplant patients.
[...]
"Is there any evidence that social media can improve health outcomes? While it's still early in the game, Lorincz cited two studies with positive results:
  • An online community for young cancer patients in the Netherlands has led to "higher patient satisfaction, fewer unscheduled visits to the hospital, and, most importantly, more confident young patients."
  • A randomized controlled trial found that, in a program designed to encourage physical activity, the incorporation of an online community reduced attrition from the program."

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