Friday, July 24, 2009

Why Aren't More Hospitals Using Social Media?

According to Ed Bennett's ( listing of U.S. hospitals in June 2009 - he found that only 297 of our country's 5,700 hospitals were using social media tools to augment their marketing and advertising.

As a hospital CFO that is very interested in growing our facility's topside revenue I simply do not understand this low adoption rate. I have been struggling internally with this question for a few weeks now and I believe that I have come up with a few underlying reasons why hospitals are NOT using these social media tools.

1. We do not have time to do social media? - Are you saying that your hospital is not interested in growing your market share and engaging your community in dialog? To me this makes absolutely no sense - social media tools are the exact kinds of tools that public relations and marketing folks should be using to help them do their jobs.

2. Our marketing plan is working very well! - If this is the case, great, congrats you have done a great job. Conventional marketing/advertising techniques are VERY important and you need to continue doing them. Social media tools simply enhance these techniques and methods. How? For example, you are spending $20k per year on your well-produced, professional TV ads. This is great if your audience just happens to be watching the channel/show at the specific time that your ad(s) run. Why not augment this by putting your TV advertisements on YouTube? Put links to it on your website, blog, facebook page, and broadcast thru Twitter. All of which costs nothing! Here is an example of what one rural, Iowa hospital does with their recent TV campaign promoting a new physician in their community -

3. Our administrative team does not believe in social media! - Present the business case for doing so, get your facts, drink the Kool Aid. The best part is that you do not even have to do anything to prepare a business case - Lee Aase ( from the Mayo Clinic has already done it for you. Simply review and present the below powerpoint presentation. Lee has done an excellent job of preparing the business case and documenting the successes that Mayo Clinic has had in their adoption of social media.

After your administrative team sees Lee's presentation I believe that they will be ready to enter the exciting world of Social Media.

With all of the attention on the health care industry and hospitals these days - I cannot imagine a more important time for our industry to step up and increase the level of engagement with our communities and improve our transparency. What better way to broadcast your quality indicators, HCAHPS results, new physicians, new services than to your engaged social media community!

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