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.