RSNA: How to get on the social media bandwagon

CHICAGO—Social media has emerged as the information distribution engine of the modern marketplace. Five years ago, healthcare providers could ignore the burgeoning model. Today, patients expect and prefer hospitals and physicians that use social media, Andrew Moriarity, MD, of Henry Ford Health System (HFHS) in Detroit, said during a presentation Nov. 26 at the Radiological Society of North America (RSNA).

HFHS was an early adopter of social media and established a clear leadership in social media in the healthcare space when one of its neurosurgeons live-tweeted to an audience of 1,900 during a procedure. The system was recently cited by ABC News as one of “20 Hospitals With Inspiring Social Media Strategies” for its use of social media. In addition to the live webcasting of a craniotomy via YouTube with interactive audience participation using Twitter, HFHS strategies include a dedicated YouTube channel with videos promoting healthy living, a blog authored by the system CEO titled “Doc in the D” and a monitored Facebook account to interact with the community.

Many providers are on social media whether they are aware of it or not, according to Moriarity. That’s because social media savvy healthcare consumers often turn to social media as a forum to share their complaints as well as their compliments.

Moriarity shared a toolset to help providers enter the social media era.

  1. Set realistic, achievable and measurable goals. Examples include raising the practice’s profile and sharing its work. Practices that effectively use social media to engage patients can garner enthusiastic positive reviews on social media platforms, he said.
  2. Deliver a consistent message across all social media platforms. Make sure users and messages are linked to one central location.
  3. Identify the core strengths of the practice and find stories to share that exemplify these strengths.
  4.  Analyze and optimize. Use social media analytics tools to track traffic and refine message. HFHS has optimized Facebook by tapping into the platform for mammography scheduling and appointment reminders.

Moriarity also offered recommendations to help practices implement their plan.

  • Don’t take a wait-and-see approach. Develop a social media strategy.
  • Develop a social media policy and include staff education, particularly around privacy issues.
  • Have a bi-directional plan. Share with patients, and listen to them.
  • Make sure the plan has a purpose and goals.
  • The plan should have growth potential.
  • Recruit enthusiastic staff to participate in the social media program.
  • Stay consistent.