There are many considerations and concerns as the healthcare industry incorporates social media as a patient communications tool. Despite the ease of posting contrary as well as positive comments, most social media interactions are into the neutral phase, and Positive Negative comments counts are always a handful. 

Among the social media strategies, few notes for providers are to encompass social media as a mindset, conforming internal operations, turning social conversations into insights, and be innovate. 

  • Encompass Social Media as a Mindset – A strategy that calls for taking a disciplined approach to planning your investment, considering factors such as its impact on costs, and the ability to manage reputational risk better. Providers also should establish goals focused on trust and transparency, not just return on investment, as the benefits of social media do not necessarily easily translate into dollars and cents. Besides, social media focus should be accessible and relevant. Social media creates an opportunity for providers to proactively connect with patients when they are healthy, building a foundation of trust for when they are ill. 
  • Conform Internal Operations – A strategy calls for a shift from silos to networks. Social media is not just for marketing and communications departments but can and should be used and coordinated with legal, information technology, clinical, customer service, and other functions. In embracing social media as a patient communications tool, processes will need a revamp to be relevant at the point of need, as social media promotes a non-linear, instantaneous experience. In revamping processes, employees also may need to be retrained, and new skill sets developed or procured. 
  • Turn Social Conversations into Insights – Do not use social media to talk and listen merely. Analyze what is being said and integrate those insights to develop strategies for improvement initiatives. Social media creates an exceptional opportunity for providers to gain patient insights that can be transformed into action to improve all aspects of the patient experience. Also, shifting through the noise of social data to get at relevant data generated through social media networks. Organizations have an opportunity to engage in information technology and work with analytics to discover ways to integrate social data with existing systems, databases, and tools. 
  • Be Innovative – Consider establishing enterprise social media forums before embarking on external social media forums. Internal collaboration forums can help organizations test the social media concept within the walls of the organization before establishing a foreign presence. Then, create a forum to turn listening to innovation. It includes ensuring that there is a process for change to be heard and adopted.

Social media creates an opportunity for health care provider organizations to collaborate across the industry. For example, take advantage of social tools to exchange ideas and coordinate care inside and outside the traditional health care system.