Only 871 hospitals use social media. With over 5,000 hospitals in the U.S. this doesn’t even account for 20% according to Ed Bennett’s Social Networking List. That statistic astonishes me since the use of social media has grown exponentially since its introduction with Facebook and YouTube, among hundreds of other networks.
The Mayo Clinic in Rochester, one of the most recognizable names in healthcare, believes this number is too low and social media can be a valuable asset to hospitals. Because of this thinking, Mayo Clinic created the Social Media Center to help revolutionize how hospitals use social media. The center will provide workshops, training, and consulting services to educate hospitals on how to better utilize social media.
According to iHealthBeat, healthcare organizations are “risk adverse” and have difficulty accepting new technologies such as social media. However, iHealthBeat sees many benefits from using social media such as being able to potentially better engage patients and their community, aide with current marketing tactics and overall communications efforts, as well as grow their presence with online patient communities.
From a patient’s perspective, social media can give them access to others living, and learning to cope, with the same illness. One such patient wrote, “These people and their stories become an emotional lifeline.” Another patient wrote, “Social media has become a part of my health care regime, and something I’ve come to need as part of my survival toolkit.”
Imagine the added benefit to patients if their hospital created the platform to facilitate these kinds of conversations as well as participate in them. Social media platforms can also serve to break down the barriers which exist between the patient and staff; hopefully leading to better outcomes and a stronger reputation for the hospital and its caregivers.
The world of communication is changing and even though many healthcare facilities have yet to utilize social media, we can see the benefit that such a tool provides. Hospitals will be able to empower and build better relationships with patients, as well as voice their message to a greater audience comprised of online patient communities and their local community.