Hospitals should open the “pipes” for Social Media!
Hospitals need to start opening up the pipes to social media inside the hospitals. Like most large organizations, hospitals clamp down on whether employees can access certain web properties: whether it is ESPN, Yahoo, and now Twitter, Facebook, and other social media sites. Here are couple simple reasons I think IT Departments and Executive Leadership should jump in and open up the pipes:
1) Mobile – If employees cannot access the same sites on the hospital computers, they are using mobile devices to access this information. With 3G and soon to come 4G devices, access to information is coming faster and more assessable each day. Whether if you have an iPhone, Blackberry, Android, etc…you can access all the social networking sites, post and update, and even take pictures and post right inside the hospital walls.
2) Internal Brand Ambassadors – Employees are engaging with patients via social media sites like Facebook, Twitter, and even geo-location apps like FourSquare. They are using their mobile devices and finding other means to connect with patients outside of the firewalls. Building communities is important right now and there is value in allowing those conversations to foster inside the walls of the hospital rather than outside the walls.
3) Patients are Talking – Patients and making status updates from inside the walls of the hospital. They are using Twitter and Facebook to tell family and friends medical updates of their loved ones. This is a great opportunity to try to engage or see the conversations in real time inside the walls of the hospital.
4) Geo-Location – Patients/Visitors of hospitals are updating with a location inside the walls of the hospital using Foursquare and Gowalla. They are telling the world they have just arrived for a procedure or picking up a loved one, stamping their location, and then describing the experience. There is value in engaging with these conversations.
5) Doctors are using the Internet to gather information – “A recent study by Google, 86% of U.S. physicians said they use the Internet to gather health, medical or prescription drug information. Internet technology allows physicians to also offer their opinions on medicine, or other matters, through blogs (including links to other sources of information) and to consult colleagues by e-mail and through social networking.” – via AMA in February 2010.
Bottomline…the argument is no longer about employee performance, it is whether you want to engage with the patient in real time. I will leave with this quote from the AMA in February 2010 – “Social networking has tripled in the past year, a Nielsen Company survey showed, and physicians have joined the social networking revolution. According to a survey by Medimix International, 34% of physicians use social media.”
Paul Levy, CEO of Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center in Boston, MA gives an example conversation he had with someone inside a hospital concerning allowing Facebook to become available for hospital employees. This is a GREAT!