How should Healthcare be using Social Media?

"Sorry to hear that you've contracted MRSA..."

"I'm afraid that we can't provide those strong painkillers over the counter, we need to see your insurance details first"

"No, fish fingers are not a cure for appendicitis..."

On a healthcare related parody account, you could easily get away with the three posts above. Within a corporate social media presence though, any post that's likely to offend is highly unlikely. Of course you can give it a go, but don't expect to stay in your job for too long afterwards. But there are some exceptions where organisations will tread close to someone's moral line.

Something else that you shouldn't post on social media accounts is anything which could allow anyone to access medical records or appointment details. However, this doesn't mean that you can't inform a patient about their next appointment, if they've forgotten when it was, or the price of the car park, using a private message facility. At all times though, you have to use your sound judgement to decide what can be public and what must remain confidential.

What can you post on Facebook, Twitter and others that's related to healthcare then? In a state funded health system such as our NHS, an emphasis should always be placed on the accountability of public officials, a minority of which are paid more than the prime minister. On social media, this can be achieved by promoting Q+A sessions, both online and in local places of interest, advertising the opportunity to become a member of a hospital trust and publicising salaries, claimed expenses and appearances in front of committees. Of course, checks and balances similar to this should also exist in the private system too.

Something else that healthcare companies should use social media for is anything which is going to provide fantastic PR. This could be a baby successfully born in the back of a taxi, the opening of a brand new ward, the donation of $100,000 from a wealthy benefactor or the arrival of a politician or z-list celebrity. However, those in charge of the accounts also need to be prepared to post negative content and the reaction to events such as wards being closed because of Norovirus, statements following criminal or civil action or the release of an enquiry report.

Although i've commented that offering a diagnosis on an open forum can lead to problem, it wouldn't hurt (an ironic phrase) to provide key health tips. Examples might include:

  • Don't forget the sun cream on a hot day like this, plus some scary statistic about Skin Cancer.
  • Second hand smoke causes so many illnesses every year. Think before you light up.

Don't forget those potential sales opportunities if you're a private healthcare provider or need a contract filled too!

Content Assistant - Alexander Blakey

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