By Jessica Miller-Merrell

This is Part 3 of a 3 Part series on Healthcare and social media.  Check out Part 1 to get started. 

In my mind, social media can help elevate nearly every industry including healthcare.   Healthcare has been slow to adapt these social media communication channels mostly because of privacy and HIPPA requirements like we discussed in Part 2 of this Healthcare series.  In 2011, Deloitte found that 0% of healthcare facilities and care centers have a blog, zero percent.  They also had no presence on Facebook with 50% of surveyed companies having a Twitter account. You can see in the graphic below how other industries measure up when it comes to the Fortune 100. 
Most of the social media interactions are for the purposes of marketing and customer communication.  This is a very traditional approach to social media, and one that I fully support.  However, I think there is also opportunity is leveraging these channels for employee and workplace communication to further elevate current organizational efforts especially when 4 out of 10 employees are not engaged worldwide according to a 2012 Aon Engagement Study.  Isn’t a small investment or pilot program in test driving social media for employee engagement and communication worth the risk? 

Effective Communication Channels with Social Media in Healthcare

In my experience low employee engagement survey scores do not always require the creation of new organizational program but the communication of current ones.  Employees are not often aware of career developments, new employee benefit offerings, or other development programs at your organization.  Theses benefits and programs needs to be constantly marketed, communicated, and talked about to the employee.  This is the fundamental communication disconnect between management and employee. There needs to be more communication channels as well as listening ones.  There really never is enough when comes to converstaions and engagement with your employee.  
Certainly, by putting yourself and your organization out there on social media, you run the risk of having to be engaged.  This means publicly responding to employee questions, customer concerns, and job seeker inquiries, but trust me when I say the number of those is minimal.  Social media provides an open door to help facilitate the conversation.  And that the time spent doing such tasks is outweighed by the appreciation and interest by your workforce as they move from disengaged and unaware to engaged and aware of programs and opportunities your organization currently offers to the employee population. 

Creating a Chanel for Conversation Among Employees & Candidates

The benefit of having an internal social network as well as a talent network is that these conversations and questions can be anticipated and evaluated privately and personally versus for the whole public to see.  Even still, it’s important to use the current channels available to further drive messages and information with where the people are.  And your people are on social media. 
Even attorneys including those in employment law are jumping on the social media bandwagon.  These folks are the most risk adverse industry I know.  It’s their job to advise you on how to avoid risk and litigation of the employment law variety.  And yet, a growing number of attorneys are using social media and engaging potential clients using these channels.  The 2012 In House Counsel New Media Engagement Survey tells us that in house counsel blogs are seen as credible and new media usage dipping their toes into blogs and the professional social network LinkedIn with 88% having a profile to build relationships, store connections, and grow business. 
Building relationships, creating a strategy, and focusing on engagement when it comes to social media it takes time, but in my experience the benefits come in the most unexpected places with one of them being improved information flow and engagement by your employees.  If your current communication and engagement systems aren’t working, maybe it’s time to take a look at social media.  
This is Part 3 of a 3 Part series on Healthcare and social media.  Check out Part 1 to get started. 

Jessica Miller-Merrell, SPHR is a workplace and technology strategist specializing in social media.  She’s an author who writes at Blogging4Jobs. You can follow her on Twitter @blogging4jobs


12 comments

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