Monday, April 12, 2010

What Happens if the Healthcare Industry Misses Its Appointment with Social Media?

As we showed in our two healthcare surveys, the healthcare industry hasn't exactly rushed to embrace social media as a platform for various business applications. This regrettable fact has been shown time and time again. Government regulation, fear of liability, and culture seem to have stifled innovation.

The latest data point is an article from Joan Voight at ClickZ, "Health Marketers Drag Feet as Patients Flock to Social Media." Once again, the jarring fact that patients have enthusiastically joined health related social networks and industry is remarkably passive and hesitant.

With health care reform capturing the national agenda and health-related blogs booming, health information sites and sponsorships are making a sharp turn into social media. Users are increasingly sharing medical experiences with each other and are seeking advice from other patients, and potentially from brands. Online health communities give people what they can't get from experts: support, personal experiences, and direct answers from other people. But while patients seem to easily gravitate to DIY health education, marketers have been less enthusiastic.

My question is, by time medical professionals and organizations start to integrate social media will anyone still be listening? Or will their credibility be shot as patients look to family members and peers for advice?
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