The Healthcare Industry Adopts Social Media
Use of social media in healthcare is increasing rapidly. Social media is a powerful marketing channel for all the industries and especially for the healthcare industry. The use of social media in healthcare has proved to be an effective strategy for many companies. Social media can be used for a number of ways within the health field. The social media sites and websites have increased tremendously and have become a great way to communicate, network and grow the business. The new uses of social media are being developed everyday, especially for the healthcare industry. Social media has become a powerful marketing channel for all the industries and especially for the healthcare industry.
Medical Professionals Using Social Media
The medical professionals who embrace healthcare social media uses are likely to create deeper associations with their patients, which may result in greater patient loyalty and client retention and also increased referrals. They can also connect with the new patients when they share insight on the medical news, research developments and the new treatments within the public forum. The ways in which the professionals are using these tools are as follows.
Facebook: Some doctors prefer to keep their personal Facebook pages private and create a company or local business page. Whether you friend your patients or ask them to become fans, the social network Facebook makes it easy for them to tell others about your practice , which can lead to a new business. The promotions and contests are another way to build your following on this valuable social media site.
Twitter: The medical professionals can use Twitter to educate their current patient base and reach out to the new clients. They can also tweet about the new developments in the healthcare industry, exciting news around the office, success stories and also what the patients may find valuable or interesting.
Google+: The medical professionals can make use of Google+ for the virtual patient support groups and the educational offerings. The feature of hangout can enable upto ten individuals to interact through the live streaming video. This can also prove to be a convenient way for the doctors, nurses and the medical educators to interact with patients who do not need to be seen in the office.
LinkedIn: By joining the healthcare groups on this professional networking site can enable medical practioners to connect, share ideas and find information. The new service LinkedIn Today allows you to subscribe to news in your field and also customize your news feeds to the topics that are most relevant to you.
Pinterest: The newest of the social media sites that may have uses within the healthcare industry is Pinterest. It has recently reached 10 million subscribers. It is a very visual site. The users create boards upon which they pin images they have uploaded or found elsewhere on the web.
Importance of Social Media in Healthcare
There are a few ways that social media can be used by insurers, hospitals and doctors. These include events, health reminders, and fund raising.
Events: The social networks like Facebook and Twitter are amazing ways to let your patients or the customers know of the forthcoming events. These events could include fund raisers to flu shot clinics to the schedule of the blood mobile. Another great way to keep in touch with patients include sending out a short tweet with the details and the link to your site or Facebook that has more in-depth information to keep in touch with patients and a way to remind them about the important events.
Fund raising: This can be an exciting way to make people aware of your fund raising efforts. If you are having a silent auction then you can tweet about the latest items up for bid. The fund raising dinners can be announced on your Facebook page or by Twitter.
Health reminders: This can be an amazing way to make your customers aware of the health issues. If you are having a clinic on how to keep your heart healthy or free blood pressure checks then it is a good way to remind your clients regarding health issues. Using tweets to remind the expectant mothers about the prenatal care can also save money and also prevent premature babies.
Managing your social media: After entering into the social media world, one has to realize that is a full time job. It is better to outsource your social media management to a third party company. These companies will take the information you send them and make sure your network is aware of what is happening on at your clinic or hospital.
- Consultants: If you want to keep a watch of your social network in house, then one must consider appointing a consultant to train a staff member to take over the social networking duties.
It is essential to incorporate social networking as a part of the healthcare organization strategy. With the right application, the social networks hold a significant potential value for the healthcare businesses as they can be used to reach stakeholders, aggregate information and leverage the collaboration within the health sector globally.
Women leading in healthcare means better patient outcomes
I know I’m pointing out the obvious, but women are different to men. In the context of healthcare—a woman’s physiology, symptoms and sometimes even treatment options are different from a man's. We have witnessed this in cardiovascular health, where there is ample research and evidence that women’s symptoms are often different to men’s. We also know that heart disease is responsible for 1 in 3 deaths in women annually—it is the number one killer.
The fact is women do not always get the treatment they need. A lot of that has to do with who is treating them, how they are being treated by their physicians and the healthcare systems that are designed to support patient needs.
The proof is in the research at the care level; a 2017 study of hospitalised patients over the age of 65, examined differences in outcomes based on the gender of the treating physician. The results of the study concluded that patients treated by female physicians had lower mortality and readmission rates compared with those cared for by male physicians.
Gender equity starts at the top
I believe that gender equity in healthcare starts at the top with the leaders who set expectations around workplace culture, and that trickles down to the workforce.
You might think gender has nothing to do with how patients are treated—a patient is a patient, regardless of age, ethnicity, religion, creed, color or gender. But I believe there is a correlation between female leadership in healthcare and better patient outcomes—for men and women. Despite a predominantly female workforce in healthcare (65% of healthcare workers are women), only 13% of healthcare CEOs are women.
The disparity in the number of women in the healthcare C-suite is irrefutable, but I believe the more diversity we have at the boardroom table in hospitals and health systems— and that includes women—the more perspectives we bring to the decisions that ultimately impact patients and their families.
Female healthcare leaders are also caregivers
Many women are still the primary caregivers at home. The responsibility of grocery shopping and meal planning, making doctor and dentist appointments for children and elderly parents, and everything in between still tends to fall to women.
This lived experience gives women the ability to think about innovations and solutions from the perspective of the caregiver—not just the patient. The fact is when someone is sick in the family, it affects the whole family.
As a woman, I often think about solutions and technologies that facilitate holistic healing and health that support the whole family. Bringing the mentality of inclusion to healthcare leadership means programs like the American Heart Association’s Go Red for Women campaign, will ensure research and treatment for cardiovascular disease in women will get the attention it deserves and ultimately, better outcomes for patients.
The bottom line and meaningful work are equally important
A 2019 study found that public companies with a female CEO were more profitable than their competitors with men at the helm, but that didn’t come at the cost of job fulfillment.
Women who lead companies and organisations can influence their workforce by rallying around a common cause. Having meaningful work and the opportunity to make a difference in the world is powerful motivation that doesn’t have to come at the cost of profitability.
The work we do at Abbott is a good example—I consistently reinforce the good that comes from the research and development of the products we make with my team. Clinical trials, like the current LIFE-BTK trial, is consciously recruiting female principal investigators who work with underserved populations to enroll patients from communities of color and women. Knowing the work we do has a social impact on society might be difficult to quantify, but in my opinion, it’s priceless and could lead to meaningful treatment options that improve patient outcomes in the long-term.
Emotional intelligence and empathy are not soft skills
Interpersonal skills, problem-solving and self-awareness are considered “soft skills”—skills that might not be required to do the job, but in leadership positions, they are no longer “nice to haves,” they are “need to haves” if you are going to inspire high-performing teams.
Research suggests women tend to score higher on social and emotional competencies than men. In the words of Joanne Conroy, the CEO and President of Dartmouth-Hitchcock Health in New Hampshire, “Diverse representation at the table changes the conversation. It becomes more collaborative; there is more listening and less interrupting. We have better conversations about how we are functioning as a team and we create a safe space when people can be honest with their feedback to all members of the team, including the leader.”
I’m not suggesting women have a monopoly on soft skills, however having gender diversity around the boardroom table means a diversity of skills. Being aware of your team’s morale and what motivates them is equally important as managing your supply chain.
When it comes to health, we know that patients want more personalised care. The emergence of artificial intelligence (AI) has the potential to generate data that is tailored to the health needs of women and ultimately lead to better treatment options and outcomes. But the data insights generated by AI are only as good as the patients’ data available for analysis. To maximize the potential of AI—and meet the expectation of personalised care for patients—healthcare leaders need to be aware of who is and isn’t being included in studies and clinical trials, like women, and telegraph the need for greater inclusion to their teams.
These ideas are just the tip of the iceberg. Sure, we have come a long way since Elizabeth Blackwell—the first female physician in the United States—founded New York Presbyterian Hospital. Sure, there is still plenty of work to do, but I do hope my contribution is paving the way for more women to take on leadership roles in healthcare and make a positive impact on lives of all patients and their families.