The importance of digital communication in the healthcare industry

Estimated reading time: 5 minutes

The fact that the Internet has arrived to stay is nothing new, but a reality. Companies and institutions need to be the ones to take advantage of this opportunity to be more human, transparent and approachable in their communication with their potential customers.

Commerce, trade and tourism waltz through the area with complete confidence, capturing all gazes on the 2.0 dancefloor. However, healthcare organizations are still standing on the sidelines, waiting for the right moment to take the floor.

Talking is healing

More and more healthcare professionals have made the Internet a place where they can learn and discover the latest developments, using the social networks, wikis, blogs and practice communities.

Interaction between healthcare professionals in the digital environment helps to consolidate collective intelligence, enabling them to transfer knowledge among colleagues, helping one another in their continued learning, and improving their professional skills.

Patients, in turn, have also found the best way to use the Internet in their favor. Who hasn’t used the Internet to find information on a symptom or check the information you’ve received from your physician? Don’t worry, you’re not the first to do so.

What’s more, this new profile of patient, known as the e-patient, also seeks emotional support in forums of people suffering from the same illnesses. [1]

This type of communication not only has beneficial effects on participants, but, thanks to the messages exchanged, a new source of information is created for those interested in deepening their knowledge on the experiences of suffering an illness.

Communication 2.0 and the healthcare organizations

Yet unlike these other two agents, healthcare institutions and organizations use a non-communicative information model with the other agents on the Internet [2].

Loss of power? Fear of the unknown? If the collaboration platform is ready, what is stopping them joining in on the 2.0 dance? There are many questions on how to go about interacting with organizations on the Internet, but that’s another day’s discussion.

It is interesting to emphasize the need to end the healthcare industry’s hierarchical structure and start a new model based on “organization without organization”, focused on serving the people, and using two-way, transparent and approachable communication.

Examples to follow

Major healthcare organizations and institutions have already ventured into the 2.0 world. Although gradually more of them are joining, we should mention some of the innovative strategies that some organizations have used to join the digital era, as well as their communicative model in connecting with professionals and patients.

Spain

Xarxa Castelldefels Salut
Hospital Sant Joan de Déu
Oficina 2.0
Col·legi Oficial de Metges de Barcelona

International

Hospital Cleveland Clinic

[1] Chapter 2.3: Salud 2.0: el ePaciente y las redes sociales, by Manuel (Manny) Hernández (ePatient and the social networks). El ePaciente y las redes sociales, Vicente Traver Salcedo and Luis Fernández-Luque.

[2] Internet, Salud y Sociedad. Análisis de los usos de Internet relacionados con la salud en Catalunya [Doctoral thesis, 2009], Francisco Lupiáñez-Villanueva

Laura Diéguez is a journalist specialized in business communication, and currently is director of eHealth contents at Signature Pharma