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Why Hospitals Need to Engage Patients on Social Media

Posted by Jackie Simon on Aug 4, 2016 8:30:00 AM
Jackie Simon
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... And How to Do It Effectively


By now, most hospitals know they should be on social media, but they still struggle to understand where the value lies for them.

Consider this: More than 40% of consumers say that information found via social media affects the way they deal with their health. Social media offers hospitals the opportunity to impact health outcomes on a large scale.

That kind of impact requires more than just liking or retweeting. Share original content as a way to start and guide the online health conversation with your patients. If you’re strategic about it, you can communicate with them on social media with relatively little effort and use it to build trusting relationships with them.

Once you’ve decided to engage patients on social media, think about what you want to share with them and then do it regularly:

  • Share health content that’s meaningful and relevant.

    Patients can find health content anywhere—and they do. 72% of internet users search for health information online, where they often find unreliable resources. What they don’t often find is content that is meaningful and relevant to them. Your content should give patients the tools they need to support a healthy lifestyle, while establishing your hospital as their trusted source of health information, inside your four walls and outside—online.
  • Consider sourcing reliable content from outside your organization.

    Sure, you could try writing your own content. But generating enough quality healthcare content for social media is a full-time job. Chances are you don’t have the time to add that to your list of responsibilities. Some nonprofits offer a handful of free posts to promote events like national health-related holidays. Keep in mind, though, that these often promote the nonprofit at the same time, so posts like these won’t do much to build your hospital’s brand.

    You can also license ready-to-go, evidence-based healthcare content that you can post on Facebook, Twitter or other channels. Adding this kind of content to your social media mix is a helpful way to augment marketing-oriented posts that promote your hospital’s events, awards, etc. And because this content comes directly from your hospital, it helps to establish your team of healthcare providers as thought leaders.

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  • Keep Your Health Messages Consistent

    What do you want to teach your patients about or get them to do? Stick with specific themes and topics. Maybe you need to remind them to check in with their PCPs, or to check out a new practice at your hospital. Or perhaps you want to impact population health by sharing the risk factors for heart disease and how to avoid them. Whatever the health concern, social media is an effective tool for behavior change—but only when your message is consistent across all social media platforms.

Adding social media helps round out the ways you communicate with patients into a solid digital healthcare communications strategy. But don’t think you have to go it alone. Enlisting the help of digital health tools makes engaging patients on social media efficient and effective.

Topics: Patient Engagement