Social media in health care is about more than building a brand. Digital interaction with the community also can improve care, communication and engagement. The results can be substantial. The Facebook page for Mayo Clinic, a leader in the use of social media, recently had more than 730,000 likes, and features popular offerings that include an interactive webinar with clinic physicians and a flu party for kids.

Social media and new digital technologies will play an important role in shaping the future of consumer-driven care, experts say. Researchers for the University of California, San Francisco, are studying the role of social media and wearables in health care and mobile device usage, says Michael Blum, M.D., chief medical information officer and director of the school's Center for Digital Health and Innovation. The goal is to understand the characteristics that generate “stickiness” in the health care and wellness markets, Blum says.

More information can be found in the American Hospital Association online resource: A Hospital Leadership Guide to Digital & Social Media Engagement, hospitalsocialmedia.tumblr.com.

Hospital Checklist

·         Develop social media guidelines for employees.

·         Provide training and education on staff roles and goals for social media.

·         Develop a policy on negative comments.

·         Avoid disclosing confidential patient information.

·         Monitor effectiveness of social media strategy and policies.