Hospital System Builds EMR Buy-In Using Social Media

Posted on January 2, 2012 I Written By

Anne Zieger is veteran healthcare branding and communications expert with more than 25 years of industry experience. and her commentaries have appeared in dozens of international business publications, including Forbes, Business Week and Information Week. She has also worked extensively healthcare and health IT organizations, including several Fortune 500 companies. She can be reached at @ziegerhealth or www.ziegerhealthcare.com.

If you’re like most IT leaders, you’re used to leaving the social media efforts to your marketing department. But maybe you’re missing out. Here’s a nice example of how hospital CIOs can use social media to move EMR buy-in ahead using social media tools.

Just over a year ago, 24-hospital health system Texas Health Resources decided to promote the existence of its Epic EMR installation to a broad cross section of stakeholders, including employees, clinicians and the public at large. To do so, THR began making heavy use of social media tools.

First, the chain build a microsite promoting the EMR, which included videos explaining the benefits of the Epic system to key users such as doctors in urban practices.  In many health systems, the effort might have stopped there, aside from perhaps an e-mail announcement or two.

In this case, however, system leaders like Ferdinand Velasco encouraged everyone involved to talk up the site — and the existence of the Epic EMR — across the social media universe. Dr. Velasco, vice president and chief medical information officer, personally recorded the videos on the microsite. THR then used Facebook, Twitter and  YouTube to drive traffic to the microsite and other related information.

Velasco, who talked to Healthsystemcio.com about the project in October 2010, said that the idea was not to spend lots of money on a social media campaign, but rather, just to get the information out there. “I don’t recommend you spend a lot of time and effort putting a major production together,” he told the site. “This way, it allows you to organically as the need for information evolves and emerges through those interactions.”

Fast forward to today, and it seems THR’s social media efforts have borne fruit. According to one social media marketing publication, THR now ranks in the top 5 percent of all hospital systems in EMR adoption.

This may be, in part, because THR didn’t stop with using social media to broadcast the EMR’s existence. Since the microsite launch,  execs have installed a private, behind-the-firewall social network tool to help move the in-house conversation forward.

Now, as the system brings the EMR to more hospitals, doctors are sharing information via the social network and helping their peers be successful, according to Business2Community.com.