Why does healthcare need social media?

photo courtesy of http://bit.ly/pSGu3P

Mobile healthcare app downloads are predicted to top 44 million this year, and patients increasingly turn to social media platforms for peer advice and support.On the physician side, tech adoption continues via mobile platforms and integrated EHR solutions. Pharma marketers have done a respectable job of reaching these distinct audiences. The next step is to fully leverage the power of digital and social to maximize the most important dynamic of all—the doctor/patient relationship.– by Chad Latz on MM&M.com

Agreed!

The healthcare industry has been slower than most to join the ranks of organizations that engage their customers directly through social media conversations. This is largely due to two sets of regulations that protect patients: HIPPA that protects a patient’s right to confidentiality and FDA communication regulations that assure prescription drug information is truthful, balanced and accurately communicated. Penalty for breeching either of these federally mandated sets of rules is severe– $$$, loss of business, or even jail time.

So, why enter any communication situation that isn’t completely controlled with that much at stake? Well, many pharma companies and healthcare providers think this question is rhetorical. With this blog, I will explore the other side of this proverbial coin, and answer to this million dollar (pun intended) question.

In my opinion, the simple answer is that if healthcare and pharmaceutical companies don’t join in the conversation, they may no, they will end up excluded.

How, do you ask? And why is this important?

Social media is, of course, a form of communication that can potentially– as all others–be abused. More importantly, however, it has great potential to promote more candid provider-patient, provider-provider and patient-patient communication and ultimately help improve awareness and general health (Great point, Colin Son!).

This kind of open and honest communication between consumers and healthcare professionals (I lump more than just doctors into this; drug reps, nurses, dentists, consumer health product sales people, pharmacists…) provides countless opportunities for not only happy & healthy consumers, but ultimately more revenue for the companies. And what corporation would complain about that?

Sweeping claim? Maybe. Proof? Keep reading my blog to read my support!