Friday, January 30, 2009

Health Care and Social Media

One of the most interesting areas where social media will make an impact is in the health care industry. Most people would readily admit the last two groups to adopt any technology are lawyers and doctors. Of the two, I think that the doctors, and the larger healthcare industry, will be much more rapid adopters of social media. Here is why:

- Government regulation: healthcare reform, medical process management, electronic health records are all trends that, for better or worse, are pushing technology and healthcare workers together. It's easier to adopt social media when you are already using a mobile device, PC or laptop to view professional development videos, process medicare forms, view/send patient records and run your hospital/HMO/personal office.

- Generational shift: as the Baby Boomers move into retirement, they will create openings in senior management for people who are comfortable using technology to communicate transparently with peers, co-workers, vendors and customers.

- Customer demand: patients have adopted social media with amazing rapidity. They are now used to communicating with their service providers in a community type environment where the corporation's voice is merely one among many. Smart companies have mastered this new viral, less controlled communications environment. Less nimble companies have fumbled this opportunity to recreate relationships on a stronger basis, and have suffered sales and market share effects. Organizations as diverse as insurance companies to hospitals to medical device companies to professional associations will have to master social media in order to communicate effectively with their stakeholders.

What do you think? Am I off base? I'd like to get your feedback. Leave a comment below or feel free to fill out a quick three question survey I running on the use of social media and the healthcare industry


Anonymous said...

good post. I have worked in hospitals and now a hospital association and social media I feel will become an important part of strategy. Some are on that path and some are looking to start...

Anonymous said...

Hi Jeff,

I definitely agree, as the generation of doctors shifts more and more from baby boomers to younger professionals, the more social media in health care will come to the forefront. I

t's starting slowly now, but over the next few years I believe this trend will rapidly snowball.

Greg said...

I dont especially agree. I work with physicians and medical units on a regular basis most of them seems to have one thing in commun, they want to leave their work at the hospital (regarding patients, although they bring their research project at home). And while they are working (on site), they don't have too much time to invest on technologies. Although, like you mentioned, they have the EHR within their units, but too many of them are reluctant to use it (except to consult Pax images). around 1/3 (33%) of the physicians we work with are using computer applications while to others will ask secretaries to print reports and lists. Of course the younger are more open to new technologies

In our team we have lawyers and all of them use web base apps to charge and manage customers. They even use web based collaborative apps to communicate and share the work with their partners. They either have a BB or an iPhone and they will take time to answer to their email and do extra work at home. Since they are very often on the move, they need systems to help them in their communication and to follow up. Considering this, i feel the foundation for Social Media seems stronger with Lawyers. Although I don't have any experience with lawyers except with the few I work

I wont say that physicians won't move to softwares and social media (i would be in the wrong business if i would believe so), but I think it will take some time and if i would have to bet today between lawyers and physicians in term of how soon it will happen. I would place a little 5$ on lawyers.