Social Media in Healthcare

Posted on September 3, 2010

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North Florida Doctor’s August issue has a nice piece on the growing use of social media in healthcare. What I learned was, despite the regulation and ‘seriousness’ of the healthcare industry, it is treated no differently than any other endeavor in regard to social media use and exposure. Marc Middleton, CEO of a Florida-based healthcare media firm, offered many good insights, including: “You have to be a content producer these days; that’s how customers are going to find you.”

Growing up in a town with only two hospitals, one of which was more of a specialty hospital, it was clear which one you went to for which reason. Both acted in a divide-and-conquer aspect and did not compete head-to-head much for the same patients. If you ran into trouble as a kid you went to “The Hospital”. Therefore, the notion of potential patients ‘finding’ a hospital never seemed to be an issue; a citizen knew where to go because The Hospital was an essential community cog, much like you knew where the nearest fire station or library was.

The competitive landscape for metro areas have changed for healthcare and marketing is important. Social media (Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, LinkedIn, blogs) is part of that effort, serving public relations, advertising and sales functions among others.

Middleton relates that social media helps establish crucial aspects of a successful healthcare business:  trust, likability, and even a reason to promote or brag to others.

Perhaps most poignantly for healthcare, social media is something that any business especially healthcare, cannot control or ignore, but can be managed through reaction. Participation alone is a huge step and healthcare seems to have eschewed being a wallflower and joined the social media party.

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