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Is Social Media an Effective Healthcare Marketing Tool?

Anna Webster, for HealthLeaders Media, May 11, 2011

Emory Healthcare: Twitter as 9-1-1

At 11:06 a.m. on April 25th, Matthew Browning sent a tweet to Emory Healthcare: "@emoryhealthcare NEED HELP NOW!! Grandma w/ RUPTURED AORTA needs Card Surgeon/OR ASAP, STAT! can you accept LifeFlight NOW!!?"

Browning's grandmother was critically ill and in an area of rural south Georgia, far from the care she needed immediately. Local hospitals were not equipped to handle a patient with her complex needs, and Browning turned to social media to send out his distress call.

"While much of our social media is proactive and conversational, when we receive a tweet like Matthew's, everything changes. We must immediately throw out the process flowcharts, remove all barriers, and act," says Morgan Griffith, Emory Healthcare social media specialist on Emory's blog. "Instantaneously, things shift into high gear and a number of contacts in a variety of departments are contacted to get the right information as quickly as possible."

Browning's tweet has opened the idea of patients using Twitter as the new 9-1-1. Emory Healthcare responded back with the Tweet: "@MatthewBrowning Matthew, please either call 911 or have your grandma's doctor call our transfer service to get immediate help: 404-686-8334"

Browning's situation allowed Emory to question its existing policy and open the discussion of the effectiveness of their response.  Before the incident Emory's social media policy was the following:

1)      Evaluate a need for response

2)      Collaborate

3)      Continue dialog offline

4)      Identify common complaints

1 | 2 | 3 | 4

Comments are moderated. Please be patient.

8 comments on "Is Social Media an Effective Healthcare Marketing Tool?"


Isabel McCan (6/27/2012 at 4:10 PM)
Although there is no cut and dry way to gauge the amount of revenue that a social media marketing campaign can bring to a health or wellness company, social media is still an undoubtedly useful tool for health professionals. Not only can health practices garner new potential customers by spreading word about their business across the many platforms of the social media circuit, they can also keep these new fans or followers up-to-date about any events, news, or anything interesting and relevant to their business. By using well thought-out social media tactics like these, it is much easier to cultivate customer loyalty. Also, health companies can not only use social media to reach out to existing and potential patients, but they can also find other like-minded professionals with whom they can connect and collaborate with. So despite the ethical lines that health practices must be careful not to cross while creating content online, there are still many ways that social media can prove fruitful for a health practice. Here is an article we posted on our site that give six (of the many) reasons why health practices should engage in social media: http://www.feelgoodnow.com/feelgoodsocial/bid/154833/6-Reasons-Why-Health-Practices-Should-Be-On-Social-Sites

Erick Kinuthia (3/21/2012 at 1:34 AM)
In this current world and economy if a doctor is not in the social media bandwagon is missing a lot on potential patients. Erick Kinuthia Team MDwebpro

Brandon (10/29/2011 at 3:02 PM)
Emily, I am pretty sure that the second paragraph states the stance the article takes on the effectiveness of advertising through social media.