CSC: Don't discount social media; you'll need it

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Healthcare organizations are using social media as a tool to connect consumers and providers, according to a May white paper from CSC. And despite what some may believe, social media is not, as CSC purports, a flash-in-the-pan; rather, healthcare should get used to it.

According to the Falls Church, Va.-based company, the experience of early adopters demonstrates that social media can be used to accomplish healthcare goals in four broad areas:

•             Communications

•             Information sharing

•             Clinical outcomes

•             Speed innovation

“Early adopters show through numerous examples that social media can be used to influence customers and accomplish strategic business goals,” the paper read. “Your organization needs both a social media policy and a social media strategy.”

The paper asserts that organizations cannot afford to take a wait-and-see approach. “Although some believe social media is a passing fad, we believe it is here to stay and the sooner your organization develops an active presence, the less distance you will have to make up later.”

CSC made some recommendations in developing a social media strategy, including having a social media policy, minimally, to protect against security, privacy or ethics breaches by employees or customers. There should also be staff education. “Training and outreach are necessary to ensure that staff fully comprehends and is able to carry out the policy,” the paper read.

Additionally, the paper recommended the use of social media to go where customers are by listening to what others are saying about the organization, its product(s) and its brand(s). “Consider starting where many organizations start,” the paper stated. “Use social media to enhance marketing, branding, recruitment, reputation management, customer relations and customer service. However, take care to educate yourself first on what is allowable under existing laws in your country.”

CSC advocates that a fully-grown social media strategy isn’t needed in the immediate present, but organizations will eventually need one. “Start now but start small and monitor outcomes,” they noted. “Ask what your organization should be doing now to anticipate a more widespread use of social media to help accomplish key healthcare goals. Then expand your social media activities into new areas of value.”

Recruit social media managers internally, they concluded. “Distribute responsibilities among staff that know your organization, are Internet-savvy and are excited about using social media to benefit your organization. Keep social media content accurate and current.”