The shift toward patient-centered care is progressing, as government entities work with medical professionals to increase patient engagement and improve treatment outcomes. EMR software and other healthcare technologies are helping to bring about those changes, but they are not alone. According to a recent report by PwC’s Health Research Institute (HRI) titled Social media “likes” healthcare: From marketing to social business, several social media uses are helping providers run more efficient organizations while improving overall care.
Not participating in social media networks, in fact, doesn’t seem to be a viable option anymore for healthcare professionals who want to continue driving patient engagement and fostering meaningful relationships with their existing client base. But why not?
Patients expect open, two-way communication. “In the past, a company would connect with its customers via mail or a website,” says the PwC report, “but today’s dialogue has shifted to open, public forums that reach many more individuals.” The fact is, the way that people interact is changing, and patients are increasingly turning to online forums and social media networks to obtain information and exchange ideas, whether their doctors are using those same venues or not. Therefore, many providers are finding that creating a Facebook or Twitter profile can help maintain an open line of communication with patients and increase the patient’s investment in the provider’s practice.
Patients want more involvement. Social media networks allow patients to participate more actively in their healthcare by joining groups for people with similar conditions or following users who post on topics related to certain illnesses. In addition, patients are using online tools to research and educate themselves about problems affecting their health, to share common experiences, and to seek advice from other users.
It seems that using EMR software and other health technology software isn’t enough anymore. According to the report, integrating social media aspects into day-to-day processes can help medical organizations connect with patients in more meaningful ways and possibly even improve patient care. “Organizations that can incorporate this information into their operations,” the report says, “will be better positioned to meet the needs of today’s consumers.”