The Healthcare Industry is Increasing Usage in Social Media

By Jamie NanquilAs more and more of Americans embrace the world of social media, the healthcare industry is being pushed to adapt. Let’s face it, even our parents (and possibly grandparents) are logging on to sites like Facebook and Twitter everyday. As much as we may find that embarrassing or disturbing, companies and small businesses have thrived upon it. This has now resulted in a surge of social media utilization by medical professionals and businesses.

There are some interesting trends by the general public that have lead the healthcare industry to try web-based communication:

· 36% want to see what other consumers think about medication or treatment

· 46% use health care portals

· 60 million consumers interact and discuss healthcare online

· 1,200 Facebook pages advocate finding a cure for an illness

· 80% of internet users have looked online for health information

(source: freshid.com)

In the past year, the number of hospital Twitter accounts has doubled and 73% of healthcare management, marketing and human resources executives that were surveyed during a study said they would increase their use of social media in the next year. Some of the reasons for the crossover are to provide accurate information to patients, train medical personnel, tweet live medical procedures, reach the mainstream media, and communicate in times of crisis. One of the top benefits is attaining quick results with low cost. Karen Surkala, vice president of operations at Westfield Memorial Hospital, had this to say, “It’s much more cost effective than other strategies. This was one way to get the word out to a great number of people without a great deal of expense.” (amnhealthcare.com)

The Mayo Clinic is a prime example of a healthcare company that uses and even teaches the importance of social media. They have opened a center dedicated solely to increasing the usage within the organization and encouraging other hospitals to use them as well. (ihealthbeat.org) Some of the healthcare leaders in social media include Johns Hopkins, Mount Sinai Hospital, Pfizer, and Dr. Oz.

Not only do healthcare professionals utilize social media to communicate with patients and medical staff, but also to network with each other. Sermo, Ozmosis, SocialMD are the most popular with Sermo being the most used with over 100,000 members and growing. (sermo.com)

Although the industry is headed in the right direction, it still lags sorely behind many others with only 15-20% of the nation’s 5,000 hospitals communication using social media tools. (ihealthbeat.org)