Rural Emergency Medicine

Over the past years we've seen a rapid change in the communication landscape. Previously people heavily relied on face to face time, yet with the advent of the participatory internet associated with the use of Social Media technologies, we have seen a shift in how people communicate.

Despite this we have seen a significant lag in the adoption of Social Media by healthcare organisations globally, and in particular, in Australia.

This series of posts will take a look at the current state of social media in Australia, it's use by health organisations, and highlight the basics of formulating a digital strategy for these organisations.

This Sunday coming (29/4/12) #HCSMANZ will be talking,

State of Social Media use in Australia
A recent Nielson Report (Nielsen’s Social Media Report: Q3 2011), highlighted that Australia is one of the top users of Social Media in developed nations.

Latest figures also highlight that as of March 2012 there were 10,889,960 people with Facebook accounts in Australia, and the number is continuing to grow. The figure below also highlights the use of several other Social Media Services (all with 1 million users or greater) by the Australian public.

One of the most interesting insights in the Nielson Report, is the use of social media on smart-phones amongst adults. The 18-34 age bracket saw a 61% increase but more interestingly, the 35-54 increased by 68% and the over-55 age group saw an increase of 109%.

These figures demonstrate that social media and mobile social networking is not just a phenomenon of youth. There are opportunities in social media for hospitals targeting a pretty extensive age demographic.

Social Media use by Healthcare Organisations
A recent study of Social Media uptake in Australian Hospitals by Dr Mike Cadogan of fame, highlighted that Australian institutions are well behind other developed nations in the use of Social Media.

The authors examined 846 institutions which were found on web based search and then cross-matched with government sources. Below is a summary of their findings regarding Social Media use in Australian Hospitals (only officially accounts were included in their results).

Mike noted several key points concerning the use of social media in healthcare;
  • Exposure and the online digital footprint of a hospital is not about ‘getting more patients‘, but more about increasing the potential of engagement with the community; providing health education and providing accurate and appropriate information for the public. 
  • Even simple things like travel arrangements, car parking, hospital visiting hours, contact details and public transport infrastructure are lacking in over 70% of cases.
  • Hospitals are challenged by resourcing and monitoring depending on their size - executive support is also critical.

Similarly, Kelly Barnes of Price Waterhouse Coopers says that;
“Health organisations have an opportunity to use social media as a way to better listen, participate in discussions and engage with consumers in ways that extend their interaction beyond a clinical encounter." Press Release.

HCSMANZ Chat (22/4/12)
Social Media in Australian Hospitals 2012

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