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  • Laura Diéguez 9:00 am on December 13, 2012 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , health 2.0,   

    Hospitals 2.0: digital communication in hospitals 

    Hospital communication plays a vital role in bringing the organization closer to its internal audience, and in improving its image in the eyes of its external audience.

    The digitalization of communication means streamlining the transmission of information within the actual institution, influencing the acquisition of healthy habits among society and promoting the organization’s image to other agents and healthcare organizations.

     

    A digital communication plan

    A hospital, as an organization, should use communication as a strategic tool to achieve its corporate goal. Its communication department should have a corporate communication plan, allowing institutional and communicative relations with the internal audience -healthcare personnel, management and administration, and services- and the external audience -patients, citizens, Public Administration, the media- to be managed.

    The implementation of new social technologies in the corporate communication strategy becomes an opportunity to streamline the broadcasting of information and to establish two-way and participative communication with the different audiences.

    The use of digital tools in the internal communication strategy, such as Enterprise Social Networks, helps spread corporate information and interact with employees, improving internal cohesion and favoring the motivation and involvement of all the professionals.

    External communication can also benefit from the advantages of digitalization. Tools such as blogs, social networks, videos and Wikis strengthen the hospital’s brand, transmit an image of transparent management and create trust among the society.

    So, it’s time to get a move on and start integrating 2.0 in hospital communication!

    Laura Diéguez is a journalist who specializes in business, digital and health 2.0 communication, she is also an assistant lecturer at Escola Universitaria Creu Roja

     

     
  • Laura Diéguez 9:00 am on October 19, 2012 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , health 2.0   

    Health 2.0: Are we listening to patients? 

    Estimated reading time: 4 minutes

    Recently I finished reading ‘El mundo amarillo’, the first book by Albert Espinosa, which had been sitting on my night stand for some time now. For those of you who haven’t read it, El mundo amarillo gives the lessons that the author learnt during the ten years he suffered from cancer, from fourteen to twenty-four, and how he applies them in his life.

    The book looks back rather admirably on ten years of constant fight, optimism, and spirit to overcome the odds, during which he moved around several hospitals, undergoing multiple tests and treatments, which often translated into long stays in hospital.

    A long health pilgrimage that brought the author to note the lack of services and entertainment spaces in hospitals. Chess tables, board games, TVs, video games and wireless Internet connection. “Imagination was lacking when hospitals were designed,” says the author in the book.

    Communication with users

    Users are the main raison d’etre of a hospital. As recipients of the health service, the hospital should provide complete care and resolution of their needs (Salcedo de Prado, 2012: 35). A deep understanding of what those needs are can be achieved through an extremely simple mechanism: listening.

    We need to encourage resources that allow us to answer the question: “What do our users need and how can we offer them that?”

    Currently the Patient Information Service or suggestion box enables management to discover their strengths and weaknesses from outside the institution, in order to adopt realistic decisions based on suitable criteria. However, these tools are not always effective. Users have to deal with endless telephone calls, unread emails or hard to find suggestions boxes.

    Social networks: a new 2.0 suggestion box

    Social networks become an opportunity for users to contact the institution thanks to their speed, accessibility and transparency.

    Currently, 1,501 US hospitals use social networks, according to a study carried out by the Mayo Clinic.

    These social tools give us the chance to meet and establish a constant dialog with users, an opportunity we shouldn’t waste.

    Yet, what is the main goal of these social tools? Respond to or manage their inquiries? Or simply promote services and generate visibility to attract new users and resources and build loyalty?

    Hospitals need to carefully reflect on their relationship with users, ensure they are getting the full care and attention and their needs are met in order to meet their institutional mission.

    Laura Diéguez is a journalist specialized in business and digital communication, and is also assistant lecturer at Escola Universitaria Creu Roja

     

     
  • Laura Diéguez 9:00 am on September 13, 2012 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , health 2.0   

    Social Networks, Health and Marketing 

    Estimated reading time: 6 minutes

    Social networks are powerful marketing and communication tools in all sectors of society, even in healthcare.

    In the US, where health institutions are seen as businesses due to their private or semi-private nature, social media play an essential role not only as senders of medical information, but also as powerful tools for disseminating and creating brand image.

    According to the study carried out by eBennett.org, 1,229 US hospitals already use social networks, with Facebook, Foursquare and Twitter being the most used.

    Through social media, hospitals build strategies based on engagement and patient education. Let’s look at some examples:

    Mayo Clinic

    The prestigious organization opted for extending its presence on the Web from the outset.

    Currently, the Mayo Clinic in Rochester (Minnesota) has a center dedicated exclusively to social media. A place dedicated to “improving health globally through new communication channels”.

    This selfless gesture of the organization regarding social network use doesn’t seem to match its private leitmotiv:

    “With over 90 percent of Mayo Clinic patients reporting that they say “good things” to their friends after a visit, using social media tools to amplify those impressions seemed reasonable,” explained Lee Aase, Social Media Manager at the Mayo Clinic in an interview with Guy Kawaky.

    The organization’s strategy focuses essentially on covering the patients needs. So it has created a free virtual community where patients can connect with healthcare professionals, an extensive space for medical information where they can access quality documentation, a mobile application, and several commmunication channels that resolve the queries of thousands of followers each day (Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and Flickr).

    Children’s Medical Center of Dallas

    Personalized stories always generate a greater bond between the reader and the stakeholder. And if we add the possibility of making the reader participate in the story to the equation, engagement is increased considerably.

    The Children’s Medical Center of Dallas found a revolutionary way in 2009 to publicize its services by involving internet users. The hospital broadcasted live a kidney transplant operation between father and son to anyone who wanted to follow it, tweeting the whole operation on Twitter.

    The hospital argued that the initiative was motivated by the need to “make an appeal for organ donations,” aside from any promotional benefits that it involved for the center —thousands of impacts in communication media, considerable increase in Twitter followers, etc.

    Ever since, several US hospitals have followed their lead and others have taken things a step further.

    Lowell General Hospital (Massachusetts)

    For the moment, we have only looked at marketing and communication strategies in the digital environment, however, several US hospitals have managed to optimize the combination between online and offline communication.

    One example is Lowell General Hospital (Massachusetts) that uses multi-channel marketing to humanize its corporate identity by organizing TeamWalk for Cancer Care, a fun walk that aims to collect funds for cancer research.

    The hospital promotes the event through leaflets and posters, as well as through social networks and emails, encouraging participants in such away that they broadcast the events in real time and rally their friends and followers to make a donation.

    I suspect that these initiatives will have not left you indifferent, and you have wondered a few things about them. What do you think about the use of e-marketing strategies in healthcare? Should hospitals and health centers be present on the social networks? Do you think they should be more regulated?

     

    Laura Diéguez is a journalist specialized in business and digital communication, and is also assistant lecturer at Escola Universitaria Creu Roja

     

     
  • Laura Diéguez 9:00 am on August 3, 2012 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , health 2.0   

    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

     

     
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