Hospitals In Social Media

As the social media craze goes into high gear, we’re taking a lot at how various industries are using social media. Last week it was the financial services industry. This week, it’s the healthcare industry. Specifically, we want to look at how hospitals are using social media and whether or not it is effective.

Hospital have a specific need for patients. The factors that most influence hospital selection among Western New Yorkers are:
1.      The best doctors

2.      State of the art equipment

3.      Neat, clean, comfortable surroundings

4.      Best nurses

5.      Accreditation

6.      Safety

Each year, Buffalo Spree publishes a magazine on the best doctors, but for the most part, this is a subjective claim that comes from the perceptions of other people. The best doctors get the best word of mouth. And the new word of mouth is now social media.

With that said, Western New York hospitals aren’t very active in the social media. WNYers are not being early adopters. Some that may show a slight interest in social media is Catholic Health which has a bookmark and share button so that people could share the page on various sites to promote. Also, Olean General Hospital has an RSS (Really Simple Syndication) feed that allows updates on classes and events to be sent to a standardized format.

These tools do show some capability of the hospitals marketing it self through social media but it is not enough. Bookmark and share and RSS feed are basic ways of forwarding messages. But one cannot simply rely on forwarding a message because it does not always receive acknowledgment.

According to the Hospital Social Network List many hospitals around the country are active in communicating with patients through social media. In the state of New York there are 136 hospitals using Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, and/or Blogs. And throughout the country, 1,527 hospitals are currently active in social media. These tactics give the opportunity for patients to post what they experienced at the hospital through its social networking page. Canton-Potsdam Hospital in Canton, New York, had a patient recently comment on its Facebook page as her experience at the hospital as being absolutely wonderful!

Some hospitals Twitter accounts, such as Mission Children’s Hospital in Asheville, North Carolina, have up to or even more than 900 followers, which do not only consist of employees. The real question that needs answering is “How are these hospitals getting patients to sign up and speak about their experience through these social networks?”

The truth maybe that people feed off of what other people think; one perception gives off a sense of thought to another. Another reason would be asking. What better way to ask someone to post a comment of their experience in a hospital than to simply approach and ask?

An Internet slide show guideline gives some useful advice for hospitals wanting to be a part of social media such as the best ways to connect with people on Facebook and how launching videos of the hospital facility is of use to the hospital. The main point that the slide show focuses on is for the hospital staff to know what the patients would like to see and the best way to do so is through collaborative communication on the web.


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