Medical institutions such as hospitals have, in general, been slower to adapt to social media than other institutions. However, just because a hospital is not actually participating in social media channels does not mean they aren’t involved in social media.
Social networks are not just a platform to push content out – they are a sharing platform. When patients visit hospitals, they share their experience on social networks such as Facebook, Twitter, Foursquare and Yelp. This can come in the form of a check-in (popular on location-focused social networks like Foursquare and Yelp) or analysis of how well they were treated and their overall experience. Long (or short) waiting times, unfriendly (or friendly) staff and meeting the needs of their visit are topics that are likely to be shared with friends and strangers online, no matter if the hospital has a social media plan or not.
Therefore, it’s vital that hospitals use social media to monitor and engage with patients. If reviews on Yelp advise that one hospital has a particular long waiting time or really unfriendly staff, patients will likely go to another hospital. However, if a hospital has rave reviews on a social network (or it’s noted how easy parking is), it should attract additional patients. Furthermore, people trust friend’s opinions, and a positive or negative comment on Facebook or Twitter could influence where patients go for future hospital visits.
What’s important is to understand that even if a hospital isn’t actively participating in social media or doesn’t have a strategy in place, it isn’t absent from social media. Even if the strategy is to respond to negative comments or sharing information about waiting times, parking and answering patient questions, it will help show patients that a hospital is there for them and can offer support.
The bottom line is that it is impossible to avoid social media, so hospitals are better off getting involved with social media in order to help shape their image and build a positive social media reputation.
Disclaimer: this information is for your education and should not be considered medical advice regarding diagnosis or treatment recommendations. Some links on this page may be affiliate links. Read the full disclaimer.