Social Media All-Stars: Hospitals

By Sven Larsen (@zemoga)

As we pointed out on March 9, involved, passionate patients are some of the all-stars of social media, bringing their hard-earned expertise forward to influence and opine on the state of medicine and care.

Surprisingly, another all-star group in social media are hospitals. A year ago, only 10% of hospitals were using social media. Today, its still only the minority of hospitals who have joined social media.

However, whether theyre live-tweeting cancer, transplant, burn, or heart surgeries; streaming video or posting it on their YouTube channels; giving their healthcare providers blogs; promoting their successes and correcting news stories via Twitter; or raising $1 million for a new childrens hospital via Farmville – hospitals are understanding that social media is the best way to get in front of patients and make a personal connection with them – an achievement that huge conglomerate health systems have never been able to manage before.

So today, we live in a world where more people like St. Judes Childrens Research Hospital on Facebook than like the “General Hospital soap opera (767K versus 604K, if you were curious). Hows that for restoring your faith in humanity?

But this push comes from need. As Mike Morrison of Massachusetts General Hospital pointed out to KevinMD a couple of years ago, large institutions became aware of the necessity to reach out to their public themselves when the newspaper industry began to shrink. Suddenly, there were no local reporters able to profile them anymore. And, of course, this has only gotten worse in the months since.

Today, if the public is going to find out about their local hospitals heart and soul, their work and their successes, its going to be because the hospital told them about it – because the hospital became an interesting, informative, personal, vibrant voice in the community dialogue.

Incidentally, hospitals are also, sensibly enough, creating social media policies to teach their employees what not to do – and, what to do – on social media. (You do have one yourself already…right?)

Want to learn more about hospitals and social media? Here are three excellent links to get you started.

  1. Do you want to see if your local hospital is using social media? Check out University of Maryland Medical Center Ed Bennetts Hospital Social Network List.
  2. Do you want a quick primer on how your hospital could dip a toe into social media? Check out Eds presentation Hospitals and Social Media.
  3. Do you want to see how hospitals Twitter usage could help everyone from medical students to health educators to patients to nurses to administrators? Check out Hungarian physician Bertalan Meskos presentation Twitter and Health 2.0.
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