Facebook and Healthcare: A Perfect Match?

As most Americans can tell you, Facebook is “the way” that they communicate. Facebook touts more than 620,000,000 users; the company details that over half of them log in to their Facebook account in any given day. To most, Facebook is a place to share photos, talk with friends and update the world on what’s going on in their life.

With such a powerful tool available for use, the healthcare world has started to take notice. A recent study shows that over 40% of Americans utilize the social networking website as a resource on healthcare. These same respondents said they use the information they find on Facebook to make future healthcare choices.

So how do healthcare facilities utilize this knowledge to work in their favor? What can be done to further attract patients to see what they have to say? People want to be “marketed” to in different ways than their parents. Case in point: over half of the world’s current population is under the age of 30. This age group use Facebook more than any other group. It is time for many healthcare institutions to get on board or get left out. A few items that people want to see on Facebook:

  • Educational videos
  • Weight loss information
  • Events related to healthcare (such as informational seminars)
  • Medical research updates
  • Health warnings

So what is the “gimmick” of social media websites and why do people flock to them? Because, when utilized properly, they are an avenue to create interaction with other visitors and they create a dialogue (not a monologue) between healthcare providers and end users (their patients and/or caregivers). Traditional websites are still useful and valuable to these healthcare institutions, but they do not allow for the “instant gratification” that social media sites provide.

While websites are designed for information and education, social media is made for engagement. It’s about answering questions, giving information, providing tips and making the healthcare provider more accessible. While facts and figures still dominate most websites, opinions are the item of interest on social media. It can also serve as a place where patients experiencing similar ailments or situations can form relationships; this is a powerful resource to provide to patients that could otherwise be inaccessible.

By Kevin Hunter