By Jenn Riggle
Or to put it more accurately, hospitals need to consider how their “friends” can benefit from their Facebook pages.
The good news is that people are turning to Facebook for health information, such as videos and diet and exercise tips. However, hospitals aren’t making the most of this connection. Research shows that less than 40 percent of hospitals post daily, 80 percent don’t use Facebook discussion boards and less than 50 percent post relevant, actionable information.
But it even if hospitals have set-up their Facebook page and are posting regularly, that may not be enough.
Why? A recent study shows that major brands have seen a 22 percent decrease in Facebook engagement in the past year. This decline isn’t caused by people becoming tired of Facebook – they’re just tired of seeing the same bad content, coupons, polls and contests.
Posting relevant content is even more important for hospitals, especially since the patient experience begins online. People want more than health tips and hospital information – they want tools to help them manage their care.
Hospitals that provide these tools, whether it’s through Facebook or a mobile app, will set themselves apart from their competition.
For example, the University of Iowa Children’s Hospital has developed a Facebook app that reminds teenagers who have kidney transplants to take their meds. Still in its pilot phase, the Iowa MedMinder app customizes medication information from each patient’s electronic health records. Patients can use a password to open a popup box on their Facebook page that lists all of their meds for the day and prompts them to click on those they’ve taken. The information is then uploaded to the hospital’s servers and relayed to their physicians.
Another hospital that has embraced Facebook is the Henry Ford Health System. Its Pinky Swear app reminds women to schedule a mammogram and lets them send reminders to friends, along with information about how to set up an appointment. While no one wants to schedule a mammogram, this app can help save lives, especially since research shows that regular mammograms reduce a woman’s risk of dying from breast cancer.
And in Philadelphia, people are turning to Facebook to lose weight. The Steps to Good Health Facebook page has nearly 2,500 members who are using a 10,000-steps-a-day walking system to lose weight. The page serves as an online community, where people share recipes and can talk to others who share their battle.
While this Facebook page wasn’t created by a hospital, it shows how Facebook can be used to provide people with the tools and support they need to improve their health. With obesity being tied diabetes and heart disease, this type of initiative would be right in-line with hospitals commitment to keep people healthy.
It’s not enough to just have a Facebook page. Hospitals need to think about how their page benefits their “friends.” Only then, will they have true engagement.