Healthcare consumers, mostly patients, go online today for an increasing variety of clinical information, including looking for hospitals, comparing the best doctors, researching medication, sharing personal health stories and seeking out health condition information for themselves or loved ones.
49%, almost half, of all women in the USA go to online to research a health question or concern.
Because of this high level of engagement, patients are more involved in their own care and are rejecting mass communications from corporate health systems in favor of a more personalized and specific approach to their healthcare.
This poses a great challenge for healthcare marketers … how do we build a relationship with these patients while being transparent in our corporate marketing?
Less than a quarter of all women seek out their physician to learn about a health concern or answer a health-related question.
Websites like WebMD have done a superb job in empowering healthcare consumers. It is to these educational sites that patients and consumers seek when they are informed of a serious diagnosis – not the primary care doctors or hospital websites!
Most healthcare systems do not expect patients to come to us – they have shown us that they dont! We have to go to where our consumers are. We have to create a truthful, trustworthy and transparent non-selling environments in the social sphere. We have to embrace the limits of HIPPA and become more social.
The Healthcare Social Scene
According to Ed Bennett and the HSNL there are 906 hospitals who consider themselves “social”.
79% of American hospitals have a presence on Facebook
74% of hospitals on the Healthcare Social Network List [HSNL] have an active Twitter feed
Hospitals are catching the wave and are generating video to capture patient consideration. Almost half of all US hospitals have a YouTube channel.
The massive number of patients who visit hospitals and clinics make it an ideal client for geo-targeting services such as FourSquare. Today, a surprising, 76% of hospitals have claimed their foursquare location.
We have a long road to travel and we must drive fast to keep up with our education and web savvy patient audience but I think healthcare marketers are pushing into high gear and will be ready to drive the track.