Sunday, March 16, 2014

How can hospitals innovate in the use of social media?

In thinking about social media use by hospitals, I was struck by the innovative actions of Rhode Island Hospital that took Google Glass which was deployed to consumers, and creatively applied the emerging technology to healthcare. Physicians at the hospital use Google Glass with it being the first in the nation application to study its use in real-time bed-side consults.   This story was developed by the newspaper Providence Journal.  They also used YouTube to tell the story. And that is the genesis of today’s topic.

As we have been discussing, and my thanks to all those who have taken the time to share their thoughts in the social media discussion on various LinkedIn groups, social media is little used, but slowly growing in hospitals for patient or healthcare consumer engagement.  For example, Via Christi  is using social media and finding success.

So moving beyond Facebook, YouTube, Twitter and blogs which I would consider to be the basic building blocks and starting points for any social media initiative, how can hospitals and health systems use lessons in social media from other industries to engage the healthcare consumer and patient?

Consider the use of Foursquare for example. It’s not just a location service that connects to a person’s Facebook and twitter account. It’s a useful tool for business to drive customers and engage the customer.

The other day I was with the family eating at Chili’s Bar and Grill and used Foursquare to check-in. No sooner had I done that, I received a message from Chili’s thank me for dining there and provided us with a free appetizer as thanks.  Then a short while late I received another text message from Chili's asking what they could do for me that day?

What does this have to do with healthcare and healthcare consumer engagement?  A lot.

Whether the hospital or health system or any healthcare provider realizes it or not, they are on Foursquare.  The consumer can add any business they want with a review as well.  Maybe the healthcare consumer statement will be good. Maybe it will be not so faltering. But it will be out there every time some checks in at the healthcare location with Foursquare.  

Beyond that little ditty, here is the Foursquare application to healthcare.  

What if when someone checked into one of the hospital or health system network locations, they received a welcome message?

What if the hospital or health system, was following patients and healthcare consumers on Foursquare and when they checked into a restaurant, sent a wellness message with tips or ideas on ordering from a menu for healthy eating? That is technology driven by the way and someone in the marketing department doesn't have to manually send a message. It’s really 24/7 engagement.

Or when a person checking in fitness clubs a message that encourages the person to continue their efforts at a healthy lifestyle through exercise?

What if the hospital or health system was actively managing its presence on Foursquare and was using that opportunity as a marketing channel for engagement in a host of other areas?

These are just a couple of small ideas on using one aspect of social media. But if the hospital or health system is not engaged and innovatively using social media, you can bet the healthcare consumer is wondering why there is so much silence.

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