I heard a great conversation between a bunch of hospital CIOs recently when it came to social media. I was really struck by the responses of most of these hospital CIOs. Almost to a person, they basically said that they weren’t really sure what their hospital was doing as far as social media. A few of them knew some of the social media programs that the hospital might have done, but they knew those programs as someone who might have participated in the program as opposed to someone who was over that program. A few of them also knew a bit about their internal social media policy.
What I discovered in this discussion was that Hospital CIOs don’t see social media as their responsibility. Hospital CIOs see social media as a marketing effort. In fact, we see this in most hospitals. Social media is handled mostly by the marketing team with little involvement from IT.
I think it’s a really important observation and explains largely why we see a very marketing focused social media effort from most hospitals. I’m not saying that social media should be taken away from the marketing group and given to the hospital CIO or IT group. There’s real value in using social media to market a hospital.
I do wonder whether we’d see a wider variety of social media uses if the hospital CIO was involved in a hospital’s social media effort. Plus, could the IT staff’s involvement help a marketing group automate and improve their use of social media?
While involving hospital IT in social media is great, why not expand the involvement to the clinical side of a hospital as well? Yes, I’m sure your first answer is that there is resistance to anything that doesn’t relate to them seeing patients. However, since we’re talking about patients, could social media help a hospital serve patients better. I will say that many hospitals have done a better job at involving the clinical side than they have the IT side of the organization.
Notice that this whole time I’ve talked about social media and not social applications. There is a relationship between the two, but they are quite different. In my view, social media is where a hospital reaches outside of their organization in a social way. That’s the media part of social media (and yes the term social media was probably a poor choice). I’ve often heard many organizations refer to their internal social media efforts as social media. I prefer to call these efforts social applications. They often act in very much the same ways as social media, but your audience is some internal group in your organization. I’ll separate these types of social applications for another future blog post. The governance on those is very different and isn’t usually owned by marketing.
I believe a strong social media strategy is going to be important for every hospital that competes with other hospitals and could be valuable to all hospitals. However, I think we’re missing out on real opportunities to leverage social media if it’s only seen as a marketing channel and nothing more. We need more people outside of marketing involved in a hospital social media plan to make the most of the effort.