Marketing to Women: Healthcare Missing Out on Social Media

April 18, 2012 § Leave a comment

In the South, we would say that healthcare organizations are taking their sweet time in the adoption of social media, while community sites like Caring Bridge, Daily Strength and Baby Center have become vital platforms for healthcare conversations.  Healthcare organizations are lagging in social media usage when one out of three consumers are using social media for health discussions.

In a recent survey conducted by Pricewaterhouse Coopers, eight in ten healthcare companies (hospitals, health insurers and pharmaceutical companies) have a presence on social media sites, but community sites have 24 times more social media activity than health industry companies.

There are various reasons that healthcare has been slow to utilize social media.  There are concerns about HIPAA and patient privacy.  Some think that the majority of healthcare consumers are not active  in social media.  Others don’t have staff to manage social media, and many can’t measure the effectiveness and ROI of social media efforts.  Among those using it, many have not created a formal strategy for how to use social media.

But here are some notable facts from the report that healthcare providers should take to heart.  Of course, most of those active in social media are women.

Social Media Activity

• 42% of consumers used social media to access health-related consumer reviews.

• 30% have supported a health cause.

• 25% have posted their health experience.

• Younger consumers are more likely to share information.  More than 80% of persons 18-24 are likely to share health information, compared to 45% of ages 45-64.

How Social Media Can Influence Consumer Decisions

• More than 40% said information found through social media would affect the way they dealt with a chronic condition.

• 45% of consumers said information found through social media would affect their decisions to seek a second opinion.

• 41% said social media would affect their choice of physician or medical facility.

• 34% that it would affect their decision about a medication

• 32% that it would affect their choice of a health insurance plan.

The missed opportunity.  Trust is important to consumers, and 61% are likely to trust information provided by healthcare providers.  That trust gives healthcare providers a headstart in social media.  Word-of-mouth is the number one influencer in healthcare decisions, and social media is just one form of word-of-mouth.  Nothing is more powerful than patients sharing their positive healthcare experiences.

Those healthcare providers that can navigate the media landscape have the opportunity to provide meaningful conversations with patients, give meaningful information to consumers and gather important feedback on services.

The Pricewaterhouse Coopers report titled “Social media likes healthcare: From marketing to social business,”  is based on a social media survey of over 1,000 U.S. consumers and 124 members of the eHealth Initiative (eHI) — a national association of industry organizations focusing on health information and technology.

photo credit: CarbonNYC via photopin cc

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