Are you checking in into your hospital?

A few weeks ago, I got a call from a Belgian journalist (Peter Backx, editor of the Artsenkrant) asking if I had any data on whether the Belgian hospitals had any presence in social media. I was intrigued by the question and did some research which I will discuss later on in this blog.

The first question that comes to mind when such an inquiry pops up is whether and what hospitals are doing anywhere else in this world. Hospitals are mostly risk and discussion averse which completely opposite of social media. New projects are meticulously planned and kept under good cover. But still it seems that in the USA hospitals are embracing social media big time. From Facebook over Twitter to YouTube! Hospitals are finding their way to applications to increase their customer service, training (both patients and nurses), PR and crisis communication. There are several great examples around (Mayo Clinic, University of Maryland, etc.). A source of information is slideshare where there are some great presentations available on the subject.

Looking closer to home, Lucien Engelen recently noticed a significant increase in the social media presence in Holland. The number shot up from single digits to 30% presence in different types of social media. Similar to the USA, Dutch hospitals are uploading videos on YouTube, tweeting or posting messages on both Facebook and LinkedIn. One reason might be that hospitals are for profit and consider their patients potential clients (instead of just sick people). Another reason is that the effort of joining social media is headed up by HR which hopes to find new employees.

But what about Belgium? It is safe to say that the social movement has not hit our Belgian hospitals. There are some that are starting but a limited amount has social media profiles on LinkedIn (25), Facebook (even less), Twitter (single digits). Most of the social media is driven by individual contributors that are not acting on behalf of the hospital which could in term lead to some confusing and misleading representation and will have to be addressed by a social media policy.

So what is the next step? Since more and more patients are using social media to diagnose themselves before going to any care provider, hospitals should join the movement, know what is being said and actually contribute to the knowledge.

There are 5 steps that must be taken:

• Creation of an overall strategy which includes social media

• Create a social media policy and guidelines to help streamline the social media efforts

• Create the necessary profiles

• Take active part in social media (conversation and not just outward communication)

• Monitor social media

By being proactive they will be able to become a more trusted partner for the patient.

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One Response to “Are you checking in into your hospital?”

  1. Edison Says:

    This design is wicked! You certainly know how to keep a reader entertained.
    Between your wit and your videos, I was almost moved
    to start my own blog (well, almost…HaHa!) Excellent job.

    I really enjoyed what you had to say, and more than that, how you presented it.
    Too cool!

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