How Health Care Should Use Social Media
Social media is increasingly becoming woven into our everyday lives, and health care is no exception.
Patients already use social media to learn about health information, including finding providers, while health care providers use platforms such as LinkedIn to network professionally.
But as social media use becomes the norm, health care organizations need to stay aware of the legal ramifications involved in using social media to serve their patients and raise awareness of their brand. Patient privacy is a major concern, and patient information should never be shared on social media without a patient's permission. Any unauthorized releases of information could result in hefty fines.
Health care providers should also be wary of providing any medical advice via social media, especially if patients are from another state where the health care provider is not licensed.
To use social media effectively and compliantly, health care organizations should follow a specific process. This should involve:
- Gaining the support of executive leadership
- Establishing a social media workgroup to review any potential issues
- Developing a social media policy that includes training staff who will be using social media to promote your organization
- Monitoring comments and interaction
- Maintaining records of social media interactions in case of litigation
- Formulating a content strategy and maintaining a content library
- Developing a process for legal/compliance to review social media posts before they go out
- Providing feedback to executive leadership on how the social media strategy is working
As a regulated industry, many healthcare organizations have avoided the use of social media, and have even tried to squelch its use by their employees. However, some healthcare providers are beginning to realize that there are opportunities to serve the public, patients and physicians, all while building awareness and enhancing their brand.
Who Is Using Social Media?
Consumers, especially the younger generation, use social media to research and to make health decisions. These decisions include the selection of their doctor, hospitals and even courses of treatment for both themselves and their family, including their parents. These consumers are well-versed in social media and expect their providers to be equally adept.
Patients who are already active social media users consider themselves part of a tribe and tend to trust others on social media more than other sources. It only makes sense that they will use social media to connect with each other to share their experiences with both rare and common disease and health issues.
Physicians can use social media to network professionally with colleagues and peers and to share medical knowledge within the medical community. Some doctors also believe that the authenticity of social media can drive better quality of care.
This article excerpt, by Joanna Belbey, originally appeared here: http://www.forbes.com/sites/joannabelbey/2015/01/21/how-healthcare-can-use-social-media-effectively-and-compliantly/.
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