by Ileana Balcu, Member, HIMSS Social Media Workgroup in the Personal HIT Taskforce
Early in April, PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC) released a well-documented research study -Social media “likes” healthcare, From marketing to social business (download of the report and charts are free after registration).
This study concludes consumers:
- connect via social media more than ever;
- search for health data more than ever; and
- want their healthcare providers to connect more via social media and do more business online (make appointments, answer questions).
Other changes in healthcare push healthcare providers toward patient engagement: the Proposed Meaningful Use Stage 2 regulations request providers and hospitals to engage at least 10% of their patients in viewing/downloading their healthcare data and securely messaging with their providers (extracts from the regulations that refer to patients’ engagement).
The formation of ACOs, PCMH and the need to find innovative ways to reduce healthcare costs also push the healthcare professionals and institutions to engage consumers in their healthcare.
There are multiple ways to do this:
- personal health records,
- customer relationship management (CRM),
- business intelligence,
- social media,
- mobile devices and apps, and
- telehealth (more details about each in the just released Tower Research report Patient Engagement and Their Experience: The Virtual Touch Points via Christina Thielst).
Out of these tools, one of the cheapest and most effective is social media.
To help providers connect, understand and better use social media, the HIMSS Personal Health IT (PHIT) Task Force created the Social Media Workgroup. In February 2012, we researched ways healthcare uses social media and created a white paper that explains social media and its tools.
We provided examples of social media use across healthcare: by hospitals and doctors to public health agencies, health information exchanges, personal health record systems, telemedicine programs and other stakeholders. Readers can find innovative ways to use social media beyond marketing.
In the white paper, we identified a variety of uses by providers, suggested whether providers should “wade in versus jump in;” we added information on ways consumers use social media.
- Communicate to their providers;
- Communicate with other patients with similar conditions;
- Find information about their condition;
- Track their health/fitness goals online and share with friends/family/the community;
- Get information from: HIE, public health agencies;
- Find and rate healthcare providers and hospitals; and
- Download, update, merge, store and share their health records.
The paper also suggests the following questions consumers should consider when engaging on social media about their health information:
- Do you want your name on what you share?
- What do you want to share?
- Are there established, reputable communities for specific types of health information you are researching?
- Do you trust the information you found?
- Is your physician involved in social media?
We will continue to show you trends of social media use at the HIMSS Virtual Conference and Expo (VCE), which runs for two days on June 6 and 7. HIMSS’ Mary Griskewicz will be interviewing my fellow workgroup members Jon Mertz and Brad Tritle regarding healthcare social media trends, sharing real-life examples, on June 7 at 11:30 a.m. CDT.
Consumer engagement is on the agenda of most of the health IT executives in the US. Please let us know if you used social media to connect to consumers and what did you learn from the experience? Let’s all learn from each other!
- White Paper: Healthcare Friending Social Media: What Is It, How Is It Used, and What Should I Do?
- Advice to Providers
- Advice to Consumers
- PricewaterhouseCoopers report: Social media “likes” healthcare, From marketing to social business
- Tower Research report: Patient Engagement and Their Experience: The Virtual Touch Points