Social media in healthcare gives a substantial promise, including the construction of valuable information sprung from collaboration, patient-to-patient social supports, and more sustained and collaborative patient-provider relationships across the continuum of care. The benefits of integrating social media into healthcare marketing efforts are priceless – from improving patient care to gaining media coverage to attracting new patients and staff. If your healthcare organization hasn’t already taken advantage of social networking channels, now is the time.
The rise of social media has been phenomenal.
Use of social networking sites has grown from 5% of all adults in 2005, to half of all adults (50%) in 2011.For example, Facebook, which began with 5 million users in 2005, today has 845 million participants, more than the entire population of Europe. Twitter has also shown tremendous growth, reporting 460,000 new accounts created on average per day. More than 1,200 hospitals participate in 4,200 social networking sites.
- Privacy and security are top consumer concerns when sharing their health information through social media. Consumers are most concerned with personal health information being shared in public and information on social media being hacked or leaked . The main stumbling block is the lack of a set of accepted best practices that would enable organizations to become less risk-averse.
- Ethical questions are a major concern. Are we violating patients’ privacy by listening in or soliciting comments online? Are we ignoring the people who don’t participate in social media?
- Return-on-investment questions present another barrier. Should we devote scarce resources to explore this unmapped territory? What risks do we face if we embrace social media, and what if we don’t? Will social media really help us reach the people we want to reach?
- Healthcare organizations are also concerned about practical questions. How ready are we to use social media? How should we use it most productively for our own goals, and what is the best way to start? What policies do we need to support this work and what level of the organization should approve them?
- Negative effect on workplace productivity.
- the risks of exposing the hospital’s networks to viruses and malware,
- HIPAA concerns and
- Consuming the hospital’s bandwidth.
Despite the issues,Social media is here to stay in health care. It will evolve quickly. Patient engagement will continue to characterize this change. Organizations will use social media tactically within their overall marketing and communications efforts — videos and mobile technology will likely dominate these approaches. Online patient communities will expand and will become a rich source of information for others. Physicians and other health care providers will discover social media, which will have the potential of progressing medical research.