Healthcare News & Insights

Why hospitals need social media, online presence

Potential and current patients are increasingly using websites and social media as a starting point for gathering information about your providers and hospital. 

ThinkstockPhotos-480681166Reason: They’re treating healthcare more like a consumer purchase, and the information they find shapes their decisions, according to an article from Business Insider.

In fact, a recent Health Management Academy survey revealed:

  • almost half of participants were influenced by social media when shopping for healthcare services, and
  • 66% used their hospital’s website to learn more about the facility or get updates about their treatment.

Interact with patients

It’s not enough to just create an account and post a few pictures. The most engaging social media sites regularly interact with readers and offer beneficial information.

Hospitals can make their social media presence more valuable to current and potential patients by:

  • providing general information about health care and common conditions
  • encouraging patients to share their thoughts and feedback, and
  • connecting them with healthcare services and treatments based on comments or inquiries.

Benefits for clinicians

Your providers can benefit from social media for different reasons. As discussed in an article on Healthcare Dive, busy schedules and long shifts make it tough for them to connect with other clinicians. Social networks, however, are active 24/7/356.

By sharing stories and techniques with other providers, clinicians can be exposed to a variety of ideas that can help improve their patient care.

And since social media updates are usually short and to the point, providers can save time when researching new developments in their field or specialty.

Privacy concerns

When sharing information with potential patients, hospitals and healthcare providers have to be careful they aren’t violating HIPAA laws.

It’s best to let patients take the lead in any online interactions. This leaves it up to them to decide how much personal health information they want to disclose.

But no matter who initiates the interaction, providers must maintain the highest level of professionalism.

Regular monitoring

Whatever method you choose for social media and online networking – even if it’s just encouraging patient participation using built-in features on your hospital’s website – it’s important to stay on top of your online presence.

You may even want to consider hiring a social media professional to work on your team. That way your accounts aren’t just sitting online unmoderated. They’re actively being used to extend your facility’s reach and improve its reputation in your community.

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