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Social Media Still Controversial in Healthcare?

Posted on October 6, 2017 I Written By

Colin Hung is the co-founder of the #hcldr (healthcare leadership) tweetchat one of the most popular and active healthcare social media communities on Twitter. Colin speaks, tweets and blogs regularly about healthcare, technology, marketing and leadership. He is currently an independent marketing consultant working with leading healthIT companies. Colin is a member of #TheWalkingGallery. His Twitter handle is: @Colin_Hung.

Thirteen years after the first Facebook post and eleven years after the first tweet, social media use by healthcare professionals continues to be a controversial topic.

In October last year, nurse Carolyn Strom was found guilty of “professional misconduct” by the Saskatchewan Registered Nurses’ Association (SRNA) for a post she made on Facebook. On February 25th 2015 Strom posted the following comment following her grandfather’s death at St Joseph’s Health Facility (Strom did not work at that facility):

“My grandfather spent a week in palliative care before he died and after hearing about his and my family’s experience there, it is evident that not everyone is ‘up to speed’ on how to approach end of life care or how to help maintain an aging senior’s dignity.”

“I challenge the people involved in decision making with that facility to please get all your staff a refresher on this topic and more. Don’t get me wrong, ‘some’ people have provided excellent care so I thank you so very much for your efforts, but to those who made Grandpa’s last years less than desirable, please do better next time.”

André Picard wrote an excellent post earlier this year about the Strom “professional misconduct” decision by the nurse association.

This case and a recent Canadian Medical Association session on the lack of civility between physicians on social media served as the kernel of a recent #hcldr chat led by guest hosts Pat Rich @pat_health and Trish Paton @TrishPaton.

A clear sentiment from the #hcldr community was that healthcare regulatory bodies and professional associations were woefully behind-the-times when it came to social media policy.

Matthew Katz MD had a keen observation and suggestion for regulators:

Fear of fines and sanctions from regulatory bodies/associations coupled with the very real danger of being ostracized by peers, have effectively made social media into a “no-go” zone for healthcare professionals.

Robert Mahoney @mahoneyr had a very interesting take on social media posts from healthcare professionals.

Thankfully there are some progressive healthcare organizations out there who actually encourage their healthcare professionals to get engaged online. To help their staff navigate social media, they have created clear policies and guidelines so that they do not run afoul of regulatory bodies. The Mayo Clinic shared theirs with the community:

What are your thoughts about healthcare professionals, governing associations and social media?

Finding New People on Healthcare Social Media and The Power of Showing Gratitude

Posted on July 13, 2015 I Written By

John Lynn is the Founder of the HealthcareScene.com blog network which currently consists of 10 blogs containing over 8000 articles with John having written over 4000 of the articles himself. These EMR and Healthcare IT related articles have been viewed over 16 million times. John also manages Healthcare IT Central and Healthcare IT Today, the leading career Health IT job board and blog. John is co-founder of InfluentialNetworks.com and Physia.com. John is highly involved in social media, and in addition to his blogs can also be found on Twitter: @techguy and @ehrandhit and LinkedIn.

I know that many in healthcare aren’t sure how to get started with social media. The reality is that Twitter is not very fun until you’re following 50-100 smart people that share interesting content, tweets, images, and videos. Once you do that, your entire Twitter experience changes because it’s a great font of learning and connection.

In case you don’t read one of my other blogs, EMR and HIPAA (and if you don’t why don’t you?), we recently announced the #HIT99. For those that don’t want to click into the post, you can basically include the hashtag #HIT99 in a tweet along with someone you want to nominate for the #HIT99 and why you’re nominating them. You can see that a lot of #HIT99 nominations have occurred.

For those of you new to social media, following people nominated to the #HIT99 is a great way for you to discover smart, interesting people in healthcare IT. Follow 50-100 people nominated and you’ll start to love Twitter and all you learn on it. The #HIT99 is a smorgasborg of social media discovery and connection. Finding new, interesting people to follow is always a treat. The #HIT99 provides the perfect opportunity to find and connect with new people you’d have never “met” otherwise.

Of course, if you’re already on social media, there’s a lot more to the #HIT99 if you participate. The #HIT99 asks that you mention why you’re nominating someone. These displays of gratitude are powerful for you and the person receiving it. Even if you don’t want to participate in the #HIT99, think about doing something similar using whatever medium you prefer. It’s a powerful idea that will reap major rewards for everyone involved.

I look forward to many in the Hospital EMR and EHR community participating in the #HIT99. In case you need an example, here’s a nomination that I sent (and is a great person to follow):

Let’s let the social media connection and gratitude flow! We can use more of that in this world.

The Healthcare Social Shakeup Infographic

Posted on February 3, 2015 I Written By

John Lynn is the Founder of the HealthcareScene.com blog network which currently consists of 10 blogs containing over 8000 articles with John having written over 4000 of the articles himself. These EMR and Healthcare IT related articles have been viewed over 16 million times. John also manages Healthcare IT Central and Healthcare IT Today, the leading career Health IT job board and blog. John is co-founder of InfluentialNetworks.com and Physia.com. John is highly involved in social media, and in addition to his blogs can also be found on Twitter: @techguy and @ehrandhit and LinkedIn.

Yesterday, I tuned in for a bit of the ONC Annual meeting. I caught the tail end of the Fireside chat with Karen DeSalvo, and Thomas Daschle and Bill Frist, MD who were both previously senate majority leaders. Near the end of the discussion, Bill offered up that social media is going to be the way that the change happens. He even commented that many in DC (and I think he was including the medical community as well) aren’t that keen on social media. However, he said that 300 million people (seems to be referencing Facebook’s number) are on it and that’s where the conversation and influence are happening.

It was quite an interesting moment to hear someone like him talk about many people in his position’s opposition (or at least dislike of) social media and how it was going to happen anyway. With that as context, I was intrigued by this Healthcare Social Shakeup Infographic by CDW Healthcare. The title of their post sharing this infographic was called “Healthcare has officially gone social!” The same sentiment that Bill Frist shared. I love this excerpt from their post:

So no matter which role you play in the giving and receiving of care, social media is shaking things up and beginning to foster some amazing results: better knowledge of health conditions, increased dialogue, connected support and more patient engagement.[emphasis added]

Healthcare social media is here to stay. The problem is that in most hospitals we’ve treated social media as a marketing task. It’s a technology, but tech doesn’t take any ownership of it. It’s interaction with patients and possibly patient care, but medical doesn’t want to be part of it. It will take all three groups at a hospital to really do it well.

Here’s the infographic mentioned (Thanks CDW Healthcare):
Healthcare Social Media Infographic

Come on, hospitals! Put the social media pieces together!

Posted on August 9, 2010 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.

Today, in the Baltimore Business Journal, we learn that Charm City hospitals are doing a great deal more social media outreach than they had in the past.  Take health system LifeBridge, the paper says:

The LifeBridge Twitter account and Blogspot blog is updated regularly and provides health care information to patients while its Facebook page is used as a job and career board. LifeBridge also has its own channels on YouTube and ICYou, an online health video source.

These all sound like good initiatives which use the various social media channels appropriately.  It’s clear that LifeBridge is trying to reach out and touch consumers; that it wants patients to be healthy;  that it’s making sure people have access to its job listings and that it’s making an effort to keep people up to date on its activities.

All of which means, well, just about zero if I’m a patient hoping to decide where to have an elective procedure.  Nada. Zip. Job listings?  Meh. Tweets?  Well, I’m willing to be called on it if I’m wrong, but I’m doubting they start thoughtful conversations with consumers.  Health information on video?  Well, I’ll add a few points for the video, as it’s a pretty compelling way to educate people, but just a few.

Bottom line?  Even if they are using the right content for the right pieces, these are a bunch of loosely-connected initiatives that can’t do much to make patients feel safe, comfortable and welcome on their own.  Doing that takes not only a change in content, but also in approach.

It’s time to build social media efforts around a central goal, that of making your key audiences feel connected to your facility. Not informed about what you’re up to (most people who read don’t care about your new parking tower), not educated (there’s a place for that and it’s usually called WebMD) but connected.

That would take a bunch of effort, time, study of what patients, clinicians and staffers want and some serious trial-and-error experimentation. But it would be worth every penny. Try it — I dare you!  You won’t be sorry.

Let’s turn patients into evangelists; join our beta and find out how

Posted on July 27, 2010 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.

We would all love to see great healthcare organizations rewarded by great community support, both on and offline — but the truth it’s rarely that easy.  If you want feedback — even well-earned praise — you generally have to work for it.

The problem seems to be particularly acute for hospitals. Even patients who have had a great experience with labor and delivery, about the most heartwarming,  upbeat experience a healthcare provider can deliver, seldom go online to rave about the lovely setting, the attentive nurses, the modern birthing practices or family-friendly room design. Still,  it’s a problem for providers across the board.

So, what will it take to get patients to share their feelings online? Let’s find out!

nextHealth Media is pulling together  a group of providers who want to build a better community engagement model, specifically by using social media tools.

Our idea is to create a single plan and implement it across a few environments — making it easier to share ideas and make progress — then tell the story of what we’ve learned.

The model will be very simple and the time we invest fairly modest, but we think the returns could be great.  As things progress, Twitter and TweetChat will keep ideas flowing (#engagedpatient).

If you’re interested, drop me a note at engagementproject@nexthealthmedia.com or call me at (703) 537-8105. And if the spirit moves you, please do comment here on what you think it will take to get this project off the ground. Would love to get your input!