Refining the Role of Social Media in Modern Healthcare
Within the last 10 years, social media has grown deep roots and become an almost inescapable factor in our day-to-day lives. But it's developed in a much different way within the healthcare industry.
Many people argue that social media hasn't kept up within the healthcare industry because it's massive and structurally resistant to change, but the truth is that healthcare is a sensitive issue and it's not only unwise but also impractical to try to implement social media in the same fashion as other industries. As such, healthcare social media must be strategically planned, but when done right, the benefits can be just as significant as they are in other areas.
Social Media Trends
The fact that healthcare providers have gotten along just fine for decades before without relying on the internet leads many people to believe that social media isn't essential in this sector. While this may be true (for the time being), these kinds of views tend to underplay the potential benefits that social media can provide to patients. Social media could be the exact tool that's necessary to reduce costs and make modern healthcare a much more efficient system.
An unfortunate reality is that health issues, and the personal information surrounding them, can be extremely sensitive, which complicates the transition to online media. The central issues that organizations in the healthcare industry face deal with the management of personal health information (PHI). In the U.S., the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) has become a major influence in the way that organizations approach their social media campaigns.
Current campaigns have been successful by focusing on compliance with HIPAA and connecting with the public in an unobtrusive way. Many campaigns - like the viral ALS ice bucket challenge - have been designed to simply educate or inform the public by raising awareness. On the surface, these kinds of campaigns foster a fun and casual attitude to an otherwise serious issue, but underneath they produce a much more complex reaction.
Ultimately, strong social media campaigns change the way people view their health and the way that they approach the healthcare system. Successful organizations are framing social media as a tool to help people become more proactive in pursuing positive health outcomes. The ultimate goal is to give people initiative and help them feel more connected through media by building social health networks.
Organizations Making the Best Impressions
Some of the most successful social healthcare organizations have built a foundation around networking, bringing genuine positivity to patients dealing with issues which have historically been treated in a cold and calculating way.
Here are some of the leaders in the healthcare industry who have each created an appealing online presence via social platforms:
This healthcare company, based in Rochester, Minnesota, is widely regarded as one of the most powerful online medical resources in the world. It employs thousands of people from around the world and spends millions of dollars every year conducting medical research.
It's no surprise that Mayo Clinic's social media presence is a model for emulation throughout the industry.
Run by the United Health Group, the company won multiple awards for its #WeDareYou social media campaign. The success of the campaign was largely based on encouraging people to make small changes every month to improve health and sharing online.
Banner Health has built a resonant presence online through the use of high-quality infographics which condense large amounts of medical information down to a visually appealing and easy to understand design. Their infographics are also extremely easy to share via social media and make medical information much more accessible.
Social media is only as useful as users want it to be. In other words, social media is a tool with endless possibilities that can benefit healthcare. These trends also resonate with free market principle while also inviting individuals to become more proactive in dealing with sensitive health issues. More importantly, healthcare organizations can benefit from implementing a strong social media presence because they are fundamentally connecting people at the roots and developing healthy relationships.
Main image via jfcherry/Flickr
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