By Guy Mastrion (@gmastrion)
Im thinking a lot lately about the potential for the positive impact social media will have on compliance efforts, the high, Holy Grail of healthcare.
Will social media get compliance issues unstuck? Will it be any one form or will it entail many forms? Will only certain patient types respond?
As it stands now in the world of compliance there are patients who are compliant and those that will never be. And a few in the middle who can be swayed with the right effort.
Digital media, particularly social media, offers up great potential for patients to consume compliance information on their own terms. No longer are we bound by the mailbox, social media can be consumed in what appears to be an ever expanding universe of time, place and devices.
Will this liberty equal greater compliance?
Lets imagine a universe of friends, all diabetics who have found each other in the digital realm. At first, with trepidation they find each other on social media, then they move to posting images and stories of themselves and their experiences living with diabetes and diabetes care. They meet on Facebook, Flickr, Twitter and then Foursquare, and in this way they have come to support each other.
Within this group emerge their own thought leaders, active social media users who are also well-informed patients. These thought-leader patients begin to shape the dialogue and understanding of their group. Perhaps groups splinter off and form other more localized groups, who feel more empowered to Tweet and meet and cheer each other along. As they meet in person, what once were initially distant but emotional bonds re-form at a more intimate level.
I think we all realize now that one of the greatest values of social media to healthcare is creating listening posts. A place unmolested by marketing efforts where healthcare professionals can learn about the needs, wants and desires of patients.
A well from which to draw insight and understanding that will help compel deeper more focused off-line research efforts. This is already proving invaluable to marketing efforts. But this is only small opportunity compared to what may be achieved in the area of compliance.
I feel compliance should be de-coupled from manufacturers and move to the healthcare provider, once and for all. Because in the realm of the HMO, compliance efforts take on a form of care and not salesmanship.
If my own experience and observations with social media have taught me anything,it’s that social media seems to be about caring. And this is not to say that it cannot be used effectively to market a product or service. But rather, at its essence, I think maybe, it is about caring. People sharing thoughts, ideas and emotions caring.
And if I am correct, that the essence of social media is caring, then it portends great things for compliance. Because, the manner and context within which a message is received is often more impactful than the message itself. Social media as a medium of care may move us from a push-conscious level of compliance, to an unconscious, positive, self-regulating age of compliance ( since compliance will have been knit together through acts of a caring community).
As this momentum builds we can also add the generational shift in media consumption and social interaction. To this end, what we are experiencing now as sweeping change will be old-hat and the virtual communities we see forming now will be very real and lasting and behavior changing.
What do you think?