Thursday, November 15, 2012

From a patient's perspective: Social media and healthcare

National Health Blog Post Month Day 15: Should healthcare companies use social media?


I'm probably a little biased on this one. I work for an academic medical center (on the research side) that uses social media pretty extensively. That said, in today's marketplace, I think it's unwise for a company--health-related or otherwise--to exclude social media from its communications portfolio. Social media provides opportunities for direct engagement with users, and if done successfully, can rev up brand loyalty.

Here's an example: I was recently looking at some jewelry online. I had a question for customer service, but it was late on a Friday afternoon and I didn't feel like waiting to get a response back via email. So I tweeted. I got an answer back an hour later. Easy peasy.

As for health-related social media, I've had consistently positive experiences with AIM at Melanoma's Facebook and Twitter accounts. Not surprisingly, I've become a donor and frequently refer others to that organization when they want to learn more about melanoma. Social media it's the sole reason why I like AIM, but it helps.

I'm not saying social media will cure cancer (or anything else worthy of a Nobel Prize), but if you look at the way patient populations are mobilizing via online discussion forums and blogs, it just makes sense. Healthcare companies should be using social media outlets to disseminate the latest research discoveries to an audience that's already hungry for more information.

What do you think?

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This post was inspired by the Day 15 prompt for National Health Blog Post Month.
View posts by other participants.

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