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Hospitals and Social Media

December 18th, 2007

by Tony Chen

Definitely not the phrases you see together very often, right? Maybe it won't be so foreign in a few years.

I've posted in the past on whether hospitals should blog. I've also previously mentioned how pleasantly surprised I was to see a hospital classified ad on facebook. Where exactly are hospitals at when it comes to social media?

Obviously, as a whole, hospitals aren't even close to implementing (or even understanding) these new social media technologies. However, you might be surprised at how savvy some hospitals already are. Here are a few examples:

1. Cleveland Clinic is on Facebook. I think you have to be a facebook user to see these, but you too could join the Cleveland Clinic Lerner College of Medicine Group (currently 84 members) and the Cleveland Clinic Group (55 members). Their group description: This group is for all employees, interns, volunteers, patients, or anyone who is associated with the Cleveland Clinic or the CCF health system. If you look around, there are other hospitals that are also dabbling with various groups. Do a search for other hospitals (try MD Anderson), and you'll find all kinds of different groups and people who are associated as employees/volunteers.

2. Mayo Clinic Health Policy Center is also on Facebook with fans. This is different than a "group." As of just a few months ago, companies and organizations can join facebook, and individuals can declare themselves as "fans." This is a way for people to show their friends what they're excited/passionate about. Viral marketing at its best (and worst).

3. Partners Healthcare is on SecondLife. Check out their website for how they explain SecondLife and why they believe it is important. Some folks may have heard of Second Life as a 3D virtual world for gamers and slackers. Obviously, this isn't the case anymore. Tons has been written about it recently - everything from the pros/cons of job interviews done on second life to why GM created a pretend virtual dealership. CNN even has a blog that solely covers second life developments.

4. Hospital CEO blogs - I think we are all already familiar with these. Just in case you aren't, check out Nick's Blog (CEO of Windber Medical Center in PA) and Paul Levy's blog (CEO of Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center in Boston)

5. Some hospitals are using internal collaborative tools (like Microsoft's SharePoint) to better facilitate cross-functional collaboration. Once organizations get over the initial hurdle of learning a new system, lots of synergies are to be had - worklists, wikis, lists, and calendars.

There are more, but this is a pretty representative list.

The bottom line is this: While some hospitals are embracing social media, hospitals as a whole won't be getting into social media anytime soon. But, many patients will. And as such, hospitals that take the plunge as early adopters will be well-known as savvy and transparent.

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