04-19-13 | Blog Post

2013 IHIMA: Social Media and Healthcare

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Online Tech is exhibiting HIPAA hosting solutions at booth #9 at the Indiana Health Information Management Association (IHIMA) 2013 Annual Meeting, Changing Times with IHIMA, held at the Indianapolis Marriott Downtown, in Indianapolis, IN on April 17-19.

Social Media and Healthcare
Speaker: Matt LaMond, TranscriptionGear.com, Founded Social Presence back in 2009

With the rapid growth of social there is an overwhelming rise in the amount of information shared among individuals, businesses and organizations. Simply look at the upcoming implementation of EHRs. There are questions and concerns surrounding social media, particularly for those in the healthcare industry who do not have a social media presence and are looking to get involved.

Matt opened up by sharing the most frequent questions he receives in regards to social media from those who do not yet maintain a presence:

  • Does social media really have an influence?
  • Is the influence of social media good or bad?
  • Can anyone hop on board and join social media?

One of the biggest upsides social media presents to individuals in particular is the ability to resolve issues with national brands promptly through social. No brand or organization wants bad press, and social media offers up a platform for prompt response and resolutions for customers. It can shine a positive light on an organization’s response time and customer service experience.

However, there are several downsides to social media in terms of privacy and personal information. Before the rise of social media, there was concern over giving out email addresses, phone number and addresses. With the dawn of social media, we don’t think twice about sharing that information any more.

Matt raised awareness on just how much information someone can pull from simple status updates and photos to Facebook. Take someone posting an ultrasound photo to Facebook for example. While someone is probably incredibly excited about sharing that photo innocently enough, that doesn’t mean everyone viewing it will use it innocently enough. Consider this, with that one picture you could potentially have just provided the following information:

  • You will be out of your house for x amount time to deliver the baby
  • What hospital you will be at in a specific state or town. Same went for the example he gave for a picture someone posted while attending a funeral.

Connecting social media and your healthcare organization or business requires a little more caution and due diligence than it would if you were just using it as an individual.

Several keys points raised to consider for any healthcare organization looking to build a social media presence were:

  • The regulation components associated with an online presence and healthcare
  • Protecting the integrity of yourself, business or organization in the public eye
  • Protecting the integrity of your patients and their information
  • Protecting the general population. The most important task to perform before pushing out any information to social media on your organization’s behalf is to review, review, REVIEW. Have multiple set of eyes within your organization read over it before you push it out the door if possible. Once you release the information to the web, it is almost impossible to pull it off without legal action.

Big data is one of the major benefits of social media. Through a simple search, you can pull key demographics, improve accessibility to information, disseminate information quickly, identify outbreak trends and educate and enlighten.

Look at the influenza outbreak that occurred late in 2012. Google actually mapped out, based on tweets on the influenza, the location of all outbreaks. See link: http://healthmap.org/en/. By having access to this kind of information, hospitals could potentially prepare and estimate the number of patients they may see based on location and density of outbreak point.

The breakdown of how America search for health information:

  • 34% use social media
  • 46% using health portals
  • 67% using search engines
  • 21% use wikipedia
  • 36 % Want to see what other consumers say about medicine or treatment

This is a great example of real people wanting to communicate and know how a treatment worked for another human being.

Matt asked the audience if anyone felt overwhelmed with the amount of information he was throwing out on the scale and magnitude of what social media could for healthcare.  He reminded everyone that no one really knows exactly what they’re doing with social media.

Social media is really a conversation and people you know are already using it to communicate. People are attracted to social media and want to find you, because they are looking for a “person just like them” more than authority figures in business and government. If entering the social media realm, seek to have a dialogue with your consumers. Transparency, honesty, trust and transparency are key components to any successful presence.

Resources for monitoring what is being said about your organization:

  • Technorati.com/watchlist – watches for terms and updates you on what’s happening
  • Google.com/alerts – email updates for company and keyword alerts.
  • Yahoo.com – alerts on any occurences of defined terms and names

If you find you are gaining bad press, Matt urged the audience to deal with it right away. He stressed that you should draft a response strategy beforehand and back it up with visible action. Best advice for beginning a social media presence? Be consistent and keep it simple.

Related Articles:
2013 IHIMA: Meaningful Use
2013 IHIMA: Corporate Compliance for Healthcare
Liveblogging: HIPAA Hosting at the Indiana Health Information Management Association Meeting

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