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Healthcare reform presents opportunities for social media

During an excellent session at the recent Health Care Social Media Summit called Health care reform meets social media: Cultivating online communities to prevent and manage illness, Dan Hinmon of Hive Strategies and Willamette Valley Medical Center walked us through the challenges and opportunities at this juncture in our history.

It’s definitely an interesting time, as Hinmon pointed out:

* Healthcare profits are dropping, as costs are increasing. Medicare and Medicaid payments are below actual cost.

* Financial pressures are increasing, with people with insurance unable to pay high deductibles.

* Collaboration and wellness are among solutions to address the challenges.

* Payment models are changing from fee-for-service to global payments. It’s all about working better with communities.

Here’s where the opportunity comes: Patient education is important… delivering good information to help people make good decisions  improve their health behavior, bringing together groups of patients for better care. The focus shifts to the health and wellness of the community over stealing patients from competitors. The goal is to keep people out of the hospital. Health care is no longer episodic; it’s something you think about every day. Price is the driver.

What skills are needed in this new environment?  (1) Strategist, (2) Content, largely educational, (3) Community building, (4) Managing online patient communities.

Hinmon pointed to Diabetic Connect as an example of an online patient community geared to chronic disease management. He cited FeverBee as an excellent resource for those starting and managing online communities. He mentioned Wellaho, a community where patients and health systems pay to manage health conditions.

Yes, these are times of big challenges — and major opportunities!



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