For whatever reason – whether it’s budget, time, buy-in or understanding – healthcare hasn’t fully embraced social media. But luckily the ePatient movement has already—perhaps unknowingly—done the grunt work and outlined the tenets of realizing social media’s value in healthcare. Patient engagement thought leaders, such as Dave deBronkart (@ePatientDave), have been indirectly driving home the values of optimal social media use for quite some time.
In the following Perspectives by Fenton + TEDMED video, ePatientDave with commentary from James Merlino, Chief Experience Officer at the Cleveland Clinic, outline the “5 Es of the ePatient,” which parallel the values health organizations should keep in mind when engaging their audiences using social media.
5 Es of the ePatient and social media
Let’s take a look at the “5 Es of the ePatient” Dave mentioned in the video, and connect them with social media:
- Engaged – Like patients, consumers like to be offered opportunities to interact with the people behind the organizations that are getting their hard-earned money. The term consumer-centricity comes to mind here. That means providing content that will capture their interest (not yours), spark conversation and ultimately catalyze a discussion – the first step in a meaningful relationship! Visual content (infographics, photos, videos, Google + hangouts) offered through social channels is a great way to get and keep consumers’ attention.
- Educated – While there is a push to educate patients on their care options and health maintenance, there is a parallel need for consumers to know why a product or service is a solution to a REAL problem. While engagement will bring patients and consumers to your door, educating them on a value proposition through content ensures they have the tools necessary to know if they want to start a relationship. It’s a courting process!
- Empowered – An empowered patient is one that can claim self-reliance, just as an empowered consumer doesn’t need an organization to tell them what decisions to make. Empowered consumers are essential to an organization’s growth as they can spot-check its resources against others – ultimately cluing them in on insight about their value. When the time comes, use social to ask for feedback. While it’s scary to arm consumers with a public voice, listening to them – the ultimate stakeholder – allows organizations to stay relevant with some of the best and uninhibited market intelligence out there. The transparency of your efforts will not go unnoticed by other consumers in the social space.
- Equipped – Armed to the teeth with empowerment and valuable information, an equipped patient then has the tools to manage his or her own care. Like patients, consumers want to be autonomous. Equipping consumers with resources and information solidifies organizations and companies as a staple in the consumer growth process. Look for your equipped consumers as they are gold mines for testimonials and social proof to get their friends in line to see what the “fuss” is all about.
- Expert – Rinse and repeat. Over time, as patients are more included in their care, they become experts in it. Fostering this relationship over the course of a lifetime not only makes stakeholders an expert on an organization’s value, but positions that organization as the expert and thought leader in its respective industry – whether it’s healthcare, health IT or any other for that matter. Do you think when I go to the local coffeehouse every morning for my latte, I don’t know EXACTLY how it tastes, how it’s made and the friendly barista that makes it? Think again, I’m an expert.
Patients can always find a new doctor, hospitals a new technology, companies a new consultant. The name of the game in social media is value – and when done with the consumer at heart, we are only looking at a brighter and healthier healthcare ecosystem.
Stay tuned for Part 2! In the meantime, let’s get going! What challenges do you currently face in developing a social media strategy?