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3 Steps Toward Better Patient Engagement via Social Media

By Marianne Aiello  
   September 10, 2014

 

Being strategic about social media initiatives means establishing meaningful connections with patients. That requires healthcare marketers to not only understand the patients' wants and needs, but how they use social media.

Last week I was fortunate enough to find myself on a high-speed train from London to Edinburgh, enjoying the lush and sheep-riddled landscape passing outside the window… until I realized the Wi-Fi that I had paid nearly $20 to access wasn't working.

While this was endlessly frustrating (seen one sheep, seen 'em all) the way the rail company handled the situation left me with a high opinion of the organization, despite its faulty router. It was able to issue me a refund (and apology) by the time the train crossed the border into Scotland—all via Twitter.

This sort of social customer engagement is slowly being adopted by healthcare organizations, with some trailblazing hospital marketing departments more than keeping up with consumer brands. Mayo Clinic and Vanderbilt University Medical Center are two such organizations, due largely in part because they each have a clear understanding of how social media can greatly enhance patient engagement.

1. Understanding Social Engagement
"Many patients are already engaged online, and have been gathering in communities to discuss diseases and conditions that are important to them," says Lee Aase, director of the Mayo Clinic Center for Social Media.

"Physicians and other healthcare providers have been relatively slower to become involved, often because of fears or misunderstanding about what is appropriate. Physician and hospital involvement in social media can contribute to constructive online engagement."

Because hospital involvement in social media is so new, many patients are surprised when they hear from Vanderbilt online.

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