As the grey squirrels frolicked in the trees above and a soothing breeze gently rocked my hammock, I pondered a possible scenario for social media in health care.
I envisioned a lively blog, with super-interesting posts from healthcare leaders. Doctors, nurses, psychologists, therapists, nutritionists and others shared their wisdom on a variety of timely topics. They helped people understand the most compelling — and often complex — issues of our time. They spoke about everything from how to make healthcare more affordable to steps you can take to prevent serious health problems. They kept a pulse on hot topics and made valuable contributions to the conversation.
In addition to the written word, they communicated via concise videos on a YouTube channel. They got to the point quickly for those who only had a minute or two to spare to absorb the information.
The blog posts and channel videos appeared on a regular schedule planned in advance.
Audiences came to look forward to the posts. They subscribed for alerts so they wouldn’t miss the week’s or month’s newest addition. They liked Facebook and LinkedIn pages and followed Twitter accounts tied to the blog and channel. They shared posts with their friends and followers because the info was too good to keep to themselves.
Over time, they developed connections with the experts. They asked them questions on their blogs and video channels, as well as live online chats, Google+ hangouts and webinars that followed. They began to see them speak on TV and radio. They went to see them speak in person.
They felt a deep connection. They wanted to turn to them when health questions or challenges occurred.
Behind the scenes, a social media strategist worked with a team of writers, videographers, web developers and graphic designers to help the experts polish up their content. The strategist developed an editorial calendar and measured views and interactions. As time went on, the strategist tracked visits to landing pages on websites and conversions such as making an appointment with a doctor.
The scenario didn’t just include owned and earned media. It was supported by paid media such as boosted Facebook posts and promoted tweets.
In the end, the experts were very pleased to tap the power of social media to connect with key audiences in a scale never before possible. And those in the audiences got to know, like and trust the experts to the point that they made appointments with their organization when they needed health assistance.
Wow, it was fun thinking about the possibilities! Amazing where the mind can go on a relaxing Saturday in the back yard.
Many times, I thought about scrapping this blog. Due to a demanding job and a desire to spend my spare time with family (doing things like attending a basketball game at my alma mater), this communication vehicle veered off the priority list.
But there are so many interesting things happening, that I’ve decided to pull this out of storage!
As time goes on, I’ll share reports on great books such as Socialized! How the Most Successful Businesses Harness the Power of Social by Mark Fidelman and ePatient 2015: 15 Surprising Trends Changing Health Care by Rohit Bhargava and Fard Johnmar. I’ll give you highlights from talks like the one Matt Trotta of BuzzFeed gave at Cincinnati PRSA this week and Krista Neher of Bootcamp Digital presents on a regular basis. I also plan to interview some of great social media and digital gurus such as Kevin Dugan.
Yes, there are lots of great things happening in social media and digital. Time to shift this baby from park to drive.
Hello. I’m back! Have been busy with other priorities, but wanted to share a link to a guest blog post I did about the great things that acre coming in health care social media (#hcsm). Please take five or 10 minutes to read this list I did for the new List My Social Media blog. Meantime, I continue to share via @MikeBoehmer57 on Twitter. All the best to you!
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!
As the husband of a metastatic breast cancer thriver, I jumped at the opportunity to attend a breakout session at the Health Care Social Media Summit called Online social networks: A benefit to patients, physicians. The panel, moderated by Dr. Farris Timimi of Mayo Clinic, included speakers from Inspire, CaringBridge and EmpowHER. All three have helped my wife at various points in her cancer journey.
Efforts such as these give me a passion to push ahead with health care social media. To me, patient communities comprise the heart of the health care social media revolution. Our family has benefited first-hand from the honest, heart-felt sharing of these online groups. We have been empowered with information to help physicians come up with better treatment options. We have heard from women from around the globe with the exact type of cancer who received the precise course of treatment. We have learned about their challenges with aspects such as insurance coverage… and how they overcame them.
So it was awesome for me to shake the hand of Brian Loew, CEO of Inspire, which has been particularly helpful lately. Lowe shared during the session about how patients create an enormous amount of value by sharing in this strong, safe platform. He spoke about how they are connecting to improve health. (By the way, it was interesting to note that Inspire moderates its forums to prevent craziness. Inspire bans 1 in 5,000.) He noted that Inspire does not replace the role of the doctor, a concern of some when it launched. I found it encouraging when an open-minded physician in the audience said that doctors could learn about new treatments outside of established guidelines by listening to what’s said in patient communities.
Meanwhile, Sonya Mehring, founder of CaringBridge, said she thinks doctors should direct patients and caregivers to resources such as CaringBridge. Mehring pointed out that 70 percent of the content is created by caregivers. She founded CaringBridge back in 1997 and has seen it become such an important hub of communication for families and friends as the Internet has evolved. In fact, soon mobile will surpass traditional web traffic.
A representative from EmpoweHER (sorry I missed her name) noted that nine of 10 women seek health information online. It’s important to ensure they find good information.
After chatting briefly with Loew, I bumped into Dr. Timimi. He said the discussion points to tremendous opportunity for healthcare providers — one that affects the bottom line, with metrics such as patient satisfaction and quality playing an increasingly big role in funding. He added that online communities can contribute to clinical efficiency, as educated patients come better prepared for conversations with physicians. And patient communities offer great potential for research, he noted. He encouraged me to identify and encourage early adopters in the medical community to embrace social media. I plan to do just that!
Lee Aase, director of the Mayo Clinic Center for Social Media, said in the opening keynote at the Health Care Social Media Summit that he has learned to use analogies to help build support. For example, he tells people that social media is the 21st Century’s version of word-of-mouth. Made me think of J.D. Bruewer, social media manager for St. Rita’s Medical Center in Lima, Ohio, who calls social media the modern version of the coffee shop.
To me, the center that Aase leads is like a big ship breaking through ice jams in the Arctic Ocean of misunderstanding and fear about Health Care Social Media. I’m piloting one of the ships following in its wake.
Analogies aside, here are some random highlights gleaned from Aase’s talk:
* Education is the key to building your organization’s social media business strategy. The Social Media Health Network will be offering an online version of the residency it started last year. A Fellows program is being created with several levels — bronze, sliver and gold.
* Want to know how many hospitals in your state are on Twitter, Facebook, Youtube…? See the new Health Care Social Media List.
* Help the healthcare world better understand what systems block (or don’t) access to social media by participating in the Health Care Social Media Survey. This will help inform a Network subcommittee working on an access white paper.
*Purchase Bringing the Social Media #Revolution to Healthcare on Amazon. Many of the participants in the Summit contributed to the book.
* Yammer is a good tool for internal social media. Mayo used the unpaid version before getting the paid upgrade in February 2012. (I know this jumped out from nowhere. Random list, as I said!)
Dr. Timimi, meanwhile, spoke of the opportunity for using social media to help hospitals and health systems meet quality metrics. There is great potential for identifying problems and solutions and diffusing best practices through social media. By the way, Dabo Health has developed a free tool that allows you to see how your hospital is performing on CMS quality metrics. (There is a paid version for more advanced work.)
Glad to be a part of the fleet that’s in the midst of an incredible journey, one that ultimately will contribute to improved care for us all!
As many of you know, my wife — author/blogger Tami Boehmer — touches the lives of many as she lives with Stage IV metastatic breast cancer. And I’ve detailed in this blog and our family and friends blog how Tami used social media to write From Incurable to Incredible: Cancer Survivors Who Beat the Odds.
You also may have learned through our connections about my move into health care social media in January 2011.
But I just wanted to give a quick update before I take my daughter to a photo session with her dance team members about how social media has helped me as a “caregiver.” I don’t really like that word, to tell the truth. I simply look at myself as a husband, a friend to the woman I married on May 17, 1997.
Our last appointment with Dr. George Sledge at the IU Simon Cancer Center in Indianapolis drove home to me just how helpful social media has been for me — the husband of a woman who has thrived with breast cancer for more than a decade. I checked in on Foursqure — and shared the check in via Facebook and Twitter. Almost immediately, friends tweeted and commented much-needed messages of support. I can’t tell you how much the prayers and positive thoughts help as you wait to meet with the doc.
Meantime, Tami was getting lots of helpful information on her iPhone from other cancer survivors she had met through her blog, Facebook, Inspire.com, and countless other online sources. Several women who had had their breast cancer spread to the pelvic area like Tami told how they endured a rough patch and are enjoying each day now. One shared a story of how she hiked in Utah. Another told how the treatment options we were considering had played out in her cancer journey.
When Dr. Sledge consulted with us, we were armed with better-informed questions. And we didn’t feel alone, either. All thanks to social media.
I’d like to share more, but it’s time to head out and do my fatherly duties. Perhaps I’ll share more at a later date. If Tami’s an e-patient, I’m an e-caregiver. Thank God for social media.
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