Social media is an asset to healthcare organisations

Social media is an asset to healthcare organisations

On our 21st birthday, our team at HealthCare21 covered the significant advancements within the healthcare sector that occurred over the past 21 years. We will now be posting 21 developments that will be shaping the future of medical communications and healthcare delivery.

18.While the use of social media in healthcare communication is met with mixed opinions in different regions, research conducted by HealthCare21 indicates that 56% of international healthcare key opinion leaders believe that social media is important, especially for keeping up-to-date with developments in the field. The latest research, publications and scientific news are being increasingly discussed on social media, with experts taking a key role in interpreting and communicating practical insights.

While LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter and YouTube are the most commonly used social media platforms in the West, different platforms are used in the East, e.g., China (WeChat, Douban, QQ, Youku Tudou, Qzonw). However, this is not the only difference. In the East, there is far greater day-to-day use of social media in healthcare, including ongoing communication with patients via texting, email and online consultation, making doctor-patient interactions more frequent. This is a major plus when it comes to ongoing management of long-term progressive diseases such as cardio-metabolic conditions and cardiovascular diseases. Although English is the common language of medical science, social media needs to be set to local language if it is to be most effective, particularly for HCP–patient interactions.

Here are a few effective ways social media is now being used on a daily basis by healthcare practitioners and sytems:

#1: Sharing information

Social media provides individuals the ability to access information quickly and communicate with others. Healthcare organisations are utilising a variety of social media platforms and tools to provide updates on new technologies, introduce new doctors in a practice, answer questions on various topics, deliver care information and provide key updates within the scientific community to both HCPs and patients.

#2: Evaluating and improving quality

Evaluating insights into services and overall patient satisfaction is another way social media is utilised. Some organisations perform better through social media; therefore, professionals can investigate and mimic such methods to enhance their own. Providers can therefore determine whether they need to take more appropriate action quickly to respond to patient requests and improve customer service. To gather feedback and improve quality, social media interaction can provide doctors and physicians with immediate responses from individuals to help understand common reactions to medications, as well as obtain consensus from patients on new techniques and evaluate the possibility of additional services.

#3: Training medical personnel

A number of healthcare organisations have started utilising social media channels as part of their training process. During presentations, trainees are encouraged to use specific hashtags on certain channels such as Twitter, or to join online groups to engage one another during the training process for a more enjoyable and interactive experience. This provides trainees with a central location to ask questions and receive answers, as well as providing presenters with feedback on the training session.

#4: Live updates during procedures

Despite controversy, the number of doctors and surgeons providing updates from the operating room is increasing. Through platforms such as LinkedIn and Twitter, HCPs are delivering up-to-date information during procedures to fellow doctors, medical students or curious individuals. While some believe this to be a distraction, others argue this approach is innovative and provides educational value that must continue to be adopted by other professionals.

Additionally, the use of social media during operations also offers healthcare facilities the ability to gain attention from industry specific outlets as well as mainstream media. As a marketing approach, organisations create a buzz on social media with these updates, creating excitement and enhancing public awareness of an individual organisation to attract patients and medical personnel.

#5: Communicating in times of crisis

During times of crisis, social media has been increasingly used to provide minute-by-minute information to consumers. Hospitals and organisations can deliver real-time updates on hospital capacity, operation status and emergency room access. Active presence on social media allows healthcare professionals to pass along information shared by organisations such as the Red Cross and the Centers for Disease Control, or to communicate with news outlets.

As we continue to move towards a digital future, social media will continue to be an asset to healthcare organisations to ensure valuable scientific insights are interpreted and communicated effectively across the scientific community.