Healthcare News & Insights

Report: Providers missing out on social media benefits

Many healthcare firms are using social media and have had positive experiences – but they could be doing more, according to a new report. 

That’s the word from a study of how 36 hospitals and health systems use social media, recently published by consulting firm CSC.

Most healthcare organizations use social media to some degree, with a just a small percentage avoiding those websites because of concerns about liability and malpractice related to the health advice that may be posted, or fears that patients will post negative comments to the online profiles.

No organizations surveyed said they had a negative experience with social media. Nearly two-thirds (64%) reported a positive experience, while 18% said their experience has been neutral, and the rest said it’s too early to tell.

How are healthcare organizations using social media? The top uses cited in the survey were:

  • Promoting health and wellness
  • Marketing their services, and
  • Workforce recruiting.

That is a good start, but there are other uses CSC recommends for social media now that it’s commonplace and healthcare organizations have become acquainted with it. For example, just 23% of respondents said improving patient outcomes was a primary objective of their social media strategy. However, there are many ways to use social networks to improve outcomes, such as connecting patients suffering from certain conditions to online support communities or send targeted educational information and reminders to patients.

In addition, among the organizations surveyed:

  • Just one uses social media sites for care coordination and care management
  • None said they use those sites to recruit volunteers for clinical trials, and
  • None use social media to gather information for product research and development.

CSC recommends hospitals and providers look into additional ways social networks can help them improve their operations and patient care. One key step that many haven’t taken: Get clinicians involved in the organization’s social media strategy. While the marketing department knows how to use social networks to spread the organization’s brand, doctors and nurses may have ideas on how to start using social media to provide better care.

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