The Healthcare industry has embraced social media. From using Twitter to broadcast live surgical procedures to live chats with doctors and patients on Facebook, healthcare providers and consumers are connecting in a way never available before the advent of social media. More than ever, it’s essential for hospitals and health providers to rethink their healthcare marketing mix to include social media.
The proof is in the numbers. PwC’s Health Research Institute commissioned an online survey of 1,000 US adults in fall 2011. The results were released in their study of Health Care Trends for 2012. One key finding is that Social Media plays a bigger role in consumer healthcare decisions. Nearly half of survey respondents (50%), including half of people under the age of 35, have used social media channels for healthcare purposes, such as connecting with health organizations and other people with shared health interests or for research purposes.
- Facebook: 18%
- YouTube: 12%
- Blogs: 9%
- Google Plus: 8%
- Twitter: 6%
According to Manhattan Research, 51% of online U.S. adults use pharma-sponsored digital resources, such as condition and treatment information, disease management tools, doctor discussion guides, or mobile apps or websites. Additionally, these resources are strong drivers of action – 43 percent of consumers using pharma-sponsored digital resources have discussed prescription drugs with a doctor, nurse, or pharmacist as a result.
Although it’s easy to identify demand, healthcare marketers may be slow to understand how they can integrate social media into their marketing mix. Social media is only a small portion of the online strategies and tactics being employed across healthcare marketing. In fact, those marketing departments that do not incorporate it into their casino online planning processes are falling short. It has been proven that an integrated approach–one that incorporates both online and off-line– is most effective in reaching Healthcare Practitioner audiences, especially when it comes to product launch and commercialization.
I will say, that critical to social media, is making sure that content is king. Correct, clear, poignant messaging and positioning, accurate depictions, full substantiation, and disclosure, and keeping information fairly balanced are all important aspects to avoid liability concerns and meet FDA guidelines.
The growing numbers of Pharmaceutical and Healthcare companies connecting with their audiences online are clear indicators that they’ve embraced social media. So much so, that Jonathan Richmond, author of Dose of Digital blog, created the Pharmaceutical and Healthcare Social Media Wiki. This wiki is meant to house every Social Media project that has been created by pharmaceutical or healthcare companies in general. It’s a great resource of online communities for consumers.
Kristen Davis, PR and Communications Specialist for EMH Healthcare in Ohio, utilizes Facebook and Twitter as social media outlets. Kristen says their social media strategy incorporates the 70/20/10 rule: “70% is value added content; useful, unbiased information from credible sources. 20% is interaction and engagement driven, and 10% is EMH promotional content that supports hospital initiatives and local news stories and events.” EMH Healthcare has three Facebook pages: The main EMH Facebook Page, the EMH Healthcare HR Department Facebook Page for talent acquisition and recruiting and the EMH Center for Health and Fitness Page, the medically-based fitness center where degreed and certified fitness specialists are available to work with members and can tailor a workout to any fitness level. Like many social media marketers, EMH is aiming to be ahead of the curve in social media trends. For example, the ongoing Facebook algorithm changes, which Kristen says will impact their posting marketing tactics. To increase fan engagement, EMH will be introducing video clips in 2012; from doctors to diabetes educators on how to control blood sugar, the objective is to provide real time information.
The benefits of integrating social media into healthcare marketing efforts are priceless – from improving patient care to gaining media coverage to attracting new patients and staff. If your healthcare organization hasn’t already taken advantage of social networking channels, now is the time. As consumer driven healthcare becomes more prevalent, we”re going to see even more ways that healthcare organizations can utilize social media to engage and interact with their patients. I like to say, it’s all in the mix.
Is your healthcare entity currently engaging in social media? Why or why not? Tell us in the comments!