Is Health Care Resistant to Social Media?

Is Health Care Resistant to Social Media?
by Derrick Idleburg, Jr.

Or is it just marketing in general? Sometimes, I feel many healthcare systems shy away from the concept of social media. The existing healthcare system, in the US at least, has a lot of problems: outrageous costs, policies that isolate certain groups, and the list goes on. What would you say if I said that social media could effect substantial change?

I work in healthcare — at a hospital to be specific. Through the past year, I’ve noticed something that I find very interesting. There is a lot of resistance to the use of social media. In one example, there was a great customer service opportunity for the hospital via social media. A former patient stated their complaints and wanted to know what would be done to fix the issue. The patient was never given an answer, and I am positive that the patient told everyone they knew not to set foot in this particular institution. The patient stated that the hospital didn’t care about them. Why is social media seen as such a problem? An issue like this could have been easily resolved. The organization could have and should have asked the customer to send a private message with contact information, then set up a meeting to discuss the issue. Was that so difficult? I think that some organizations have an issue meeting people where they are.

I’m not sure what you know about hospital systems, but many of them tend not to spend much money on marketing and public relations. I have always felt that marketing & PR is more or less a crisis management arm of the hospital. Something happens, PR plays damage control, and then all goes back to the general. I think the reason for many healthcare systems being resistant to social media, and even more aggressive marketing, is control over their image.

In social media, you can’t control what someone says. If anything, someone posting a negative comment about the hospital is merely an opportunity to offer great customer service. Instead of ignoring the complaint, contact that person. Find out the issue, and solve it. It’s pretty simple and inexpensive. Let’s face it: hospitals aren’t going anywhere. Health issues arise, and patients will seek out the help they need. Hospitals should see this necessity as another opportunity to speak more about their strengths. When a patient needs specific help from a hospital that specializes in the heart, they don’t want to waste their time and money going to a hospital that specializes in the brain. Doesn’t make sense, does it? I think that if hospitals would dedicate some time to social media and discover how it can effectively help them with their bottom line, they would be abledo it more efficiently. By “do it” I mean offer the best care possible for patients by any means. What is the bottom line?  Healing patients.

Derrick Idleburg Jr. has grandiose ambitions & even wilder dreams. He is from St. Louis, Missouri and he currently resides in Kansas City, MO. His professional interests include entrepreneurship, social media, marketing, and health care. Follow him on Twitter at @didleburgjr or read more of Derrick’s work at