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Only 20% of hospitals are using social media. That number is fairly shocking. Patients and staff are tweeting, getting on Facebook and YouTube, and blogging, so if you aren’t there, you’re likely to be out of touch with your workers and your customers. You can’t rely on ads in the Yellow Pages anymore.
As an example, a survey earlier this year from the American Academy of Facial Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery found 42% of patients receive most of their information about plastic surgery from social media, an increase from 29% in 2010. If that’s true of plastic surgery, then general surgery and other medical services can’t be far behind.
The hospitals that are on social media have 1,068 Facebook pages and 814 Twitter accounts, according to ECRI Institute. The AHA is joining their ranks by starting a Facebook page. It also has a new AHA Advocacy Twitter account that will cover congressional and regulatory issues. It also will allow AHA members to interact with their federal reps.
So what are you afraid of? Liability? ECRI has a document that addresses your fears, titled “Social Media in Healthcare.” ECRI recommends that hospitals must create and enforce social media plans that define how engaged you will be, who your audience will be, and who will be responsible for managing social media outlets. It also suggests you establish policies and procedures for managing risks related to privacy, reputation management, and employment issues.
Paul Anderson, ECRI's director of risk management publications, says you’d be shortsighted not to look at the risks and benefits of social media. We agree. For more information on how to harness the strength of social media, see our blog, “The Bottom Line? Tweets Can Be Sweet.”