Healthcare News & Insights

Social media offers hospitals great business strategy

Social media has a lot more to offer your hospital than just being a great marketing tool. Hospitals who are using social media to get everything they can out of it see it more as a business strategy, than just a marketing tool. And they are reaping the benefits of this new strategic thinking.

PwC’s Health Research Institute (HRI) has a reported titled Social media likes healthcare: From marketing to social business which details how social media is changing the nature of healthcare interactions, and facilities that can’t see beyond marketing are missing out on a great opportunity to engage consumers.

And it would seem that many facilities are indeed missing out, according to this statistic from the report: During a sample one-week period, while eight out of 10 healthcare companies had a presence on various social media sites, community sites had 24 times more social media activity than corporate sites.

What does this mean to your facility?

Basically, if you aren’t using social media as a way to listen and engage with consumers on their terms, you’re missing out on a great business opportunity. It offers instant feedback on services and products, as well as new ideas that could lead to better services — which would then lead to a higher quality of care, more loyal customers and possible revenue growth.

“Health organizations have an opportunity to use social media as a way to better listen, participate in discussion and engage with consumers in ways that extend their interaction beyond a clinical encounter,” said Kelly Barnes, US health industries leader at PwC, on PR Newswire. “Savvy adopters are viewing social media as a business strategy, not just a marketing tool.”

By listening and interacting with consumers, hospitals can find out: what consumers like, what they need, how they behave and when their experiences demand an immediate response, notes Daniel Garrett, US health information technology leader at PwC. “Health organizations can engage IT to integrate social data intelligence with existing systems and processes, yet most are still struggling with how to manage the data from their own clinical systems.”

Social media survey

Another HRI social media survey of more than 1,000 U.S. consumers and 124 members of the eHealth Initiative (eHI) revealed some statistics that would interest health executives:

  • One-third of consumers now use social media sites, such as Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and online forums for health-related matters, including seeking medical info, tracking and sharing symptoms, and broadcasting how they feel about doctors, drugs, treatments, medical devices and health plans
  • Four in 10 consumers say they have used social media to find health-related consumer reviews (e.g., of treatments or physicians)
  • one in three consumers have sought information related to other patients’ experiences with their disease, and
  • one in four have “posted” about their health experience.

When the survey respondents were asked how info found through social media would affect their healthcare decisions:

  • 45% said it would affect their decision to get a second opinion
  • 41% said it would affect their choice of a specific doctor, hospital or medical facility, and
  • 34% said it would affect their decision about taking a certain medication.

A final point of interest: Who’s sharing information on social media?

Of course, the majority (80%) of individuals between 18 and 24, said they were likely to share health info through social media and of those 90 % said they would trust the info they found there. On the other hand, less than half (45%) of people between the ages of 45 and 64 years old said they were likely to share health info on social media.

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