A "HealthTweep" Pulse Check

Exploring transformational potential of social media

How Hospitals and Health Systems Should Not Use Twitter

with 7 comments

As has been well documented elsewhere, primarily by the oracle of social media adoption in the healthcare space, aka Ed Bennett, more institutional healthcare providers are putting a toe in the water whether via Twitter, FaceBook, YouTube or the fourth horse in the race, FriendFeed (though not tracked by Ed).

Most are lurking or “monitoring their brand” via select hashtags or semantic filters, or by following those active in the broad range of healthcare or wellness related issues. Others, and the vast majority in my experience, are primarily and sparsely “pushing content” from live surgical tweets to the press release “du jour”, i.e., our new cath lab or latest amenity addition.

Yet very few are participating at the level of engagement wherein “conversations are recognized as markets” per the Cluetrain Manifesto, in which the institution participates authentically with intent to establish and build a personal relationship with its followers or community.

Clearly hospitals and health systems are complex entities for which no one person can consistently speak both with authority and authenticity on behalf of the organization and still keep it “personal”.

By proxy prevailing institutional engagements in social media is typically conducted by a hospital or health system employee who may manage both a personal and institutional account, formally, informally or both.

In my view, the market leader aka “chancellor” in the medium of microblogging participation is @LeeAase of the Mayo Clinic, who also manages the @MayoClinic twitter account.

Lee is prolific in his educational content that is mostly directed to the internal constituency of Mayo, which is increasingly finding external interest in what Mayo is doing for their own institution’s consideration.

If you are a hospital, healthcare facility or parent system considering social media, please take the time to learn what is happening in the “Twittersphere”, and do pay attention to the evolving “agreements” of Twitter-etiquette.

As far as recommendations are concerned, here is a brief list of  “do’s and “don’ts”:

Do:

1.  Open an account with Twitter, FaceBook, YouTube and FriendFeed, claim your name and protect your brand on these platforms (note: also recommend including uStream.tv or equivalent).

2.  Get started by following people active in the healthcare space.

3.  Study the market, read the ClueTrain Manifesto.

4.  Find a smart, insightful and motivated person to task master the social media cause internally.

5.  Do contribute to the tribe’s knowlege base; this is a young but rapidly evolving industry.

6.  Do consider participating in or sponsoring a “HealthCamp”; where the web 2.0 and health 2.0 conversation meets and thrives.

7.  Do  start tweeting!

Don’t:

1.  Do not open an account and push bursts of press releases, directly or via the many automated tools available, simply broadcasting your wares.

2.  Do not push content into the stream unless you are prepared to respond directly and in a timely manner. Twitter is about engagement not silence, whether intentional or accidental.

3.  Do not act like a silo separate from the community you serve. Be open to what your followers have to offer you, from user feedback to issues relating to cost, quality, access and other consumer experience concerns.

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Written by 2healthguru

May 19, 2009 at 12:24 PM

7 Responses

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  1. […] to a new article by 2HealthGuru, How Hospitals and Health Systems Should Not Use Twitter, health care companies should “not push out content into the stream unless you are prepared to […]

  2. […] How Hospitals and Health Systems Should Not Use Twitter (A “HealthTweep” Pulse Check) If you are a hospital, healthcare facility or parent system considering social media, please take the time to learn what is happening in the “Twittersphere”, and do pay attention to the evolving “agreements” of Twitter-etiquette. Permalink Comments [0] […]

  3. […] How Hospitals and Health Systems Should Not Use Twitter (A “HealthTweep” Pulse Check) If you are a hospital, healthcare facility or parent system considering social media, please take the time to learn what is happening in the “Twittersphere”, and do pay attention to the evolving “agreements” of Twitter-etiquette. […]

  4. […] How Hospitals and Health Systems Should Not Use Twitter (A “HealthTweep” Pulse Check) If you are a hospital, healthcare facility or parent system considering social media, please take the time to learn what is happening in the “Twittersphere”, and do pay attention to the evolving “agreements” of Twitter-etiquette. […]

  5. I found your blog on google and read a few of your other posts. I just added you to my Google News Reader. Keep up the good work. Look forward to reading more from you in the future.

    The Healthy Advice

    June 8, 2009 at 1:44 PM

  6. Thanks for your kind words, and I appreciate your analysis. I agree with what you have in the “Do” list but would differ just a bit on the “Don’t” for automated feeds, and only as a transitional note. I think it’s important to protect your brand by claiming your name, and that should happen right away. If that means that in the short term you need to set up a Twitterfeed to have content there, that would be OK. But definitely the goal should be to engage, and yes, you should find someone who has a passion for it and who has sufficient knowledge of the organization to represent you well. I also can testify that the engagement is WELL worth it.

    Lee Aase

    May 21, 2009 at 11:53 AM

    • Thanks “Chancellor”! I do appreciate your comments and critique. The automated piece is definitely one to give serious consideration as to how to practice “authentic engagement” albeit from an institutional or corporate point of view. Though scheduling context specific, or time sensitive tweets, will always present the real time challenge of “are you listening or just telling”?

      I don’t have the answer. As an individual, it’s quite clear as to the personal/authentic imperative. Yet, applying that DNA if you will to a corporate Twitter engagement is another matter.

      Thank you for your commitment to develop and willfully share what you learn in this space.

      Major kudos for Mayo’s leadership insight and courage to step forward. Day by day, I believe the values on which the Mayo model is designed will become increasingly evident for all the world to see, i.e., there is significant value to a group practice culture particularly as it extends into and drives health system development, and patient care management processes.

      Eventually, the “whole world will be watching” and perhaps modeling the “Mayo secret sauce!”

      2healthguru

      May 22, 2009 at 8:12 AM


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