Friday, July 31, 2009

Online Hospitals and Social Media: The Prognosis Looks Good

Every once in a while you come across something that demonstrates that you really can teach an old dog new tricks.

In this case the old dog is hospital marketing. Which is why a story I just read at almost made me giddy:

Late last month, the Mayo Clinic used Twitter to announce the forthcoming release of a study on Celiac disease. Then it studied who "retweeted" the story, and from those people, it carefully selected a few it deemed qualified enough to get an exclusive look at the actual study. These people – all patients – were then allowed to blog about the study in their own voices. At the same time, the hospital posted a video and audio clips about the study on its own blog, Facebook page and YouTube channel.

The Mayo Clinic clearly understands the importance of developing a dynamic online presence. And how to achieve it. (Although it doesn't take a brain surgeon.) The practice of mixing healthcare with social media has been in practice for a while. Online colleges have always had strong online presences to communicate with students. Many of these colleges offer health science programs and these colleges have done an especially good job of maintaining active social media policies to provide medical information online. But healthcare marketing has gone even farther than traditional social media.

The article also tells of a recent analysis of medical information on the virtual reality platform Second Life, where the researchers found 68 health-related sites alone. These include everything from education tools to information clinics. There's even the Ann Meyers Medical Center, which is run by real-life doctors and nurses and demonstrates how women can perform their own breast exams.

It appears that more hospitals are finally realizing that patients are increasingly turning to the Internet in their search for information and are providing them with not just that, but something perhaps even more important:

An experience.


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