There was been much talk about the H1N1 virus. It’s hard to miss it as you read the newspaper or watch TV news or listen to the radio or visit the internet. But with all the talk, there is still a lot of misinformation. And consumers certainly have lots of unanswered questions. How can a hospital address health concerns like the H1N1 virus with factual and relevant information? Some are effectively turning to social networking sites to connect with consumers and share information.
Rockford Health System in Rockford, Illinois is one hospital that uses its Facebook page to communicate information and updates about the H1N1 virus. Not only does the hospital provide pertinent information about the virus, it uses one of it’s doctors to post information about the virus and to answer questions posted on the site. The doctor answers questions 2-3 times per week.
Katie Nilsson, a reporter with WREX, quotes Rockford Marketing Director Westor Wuori, “There’s so much information out there, we wanted to find a way to distill it down to where people can get it in one central location”.
This is an excellent example of how hospitals can effectively use social networking sites to be relevant and provide a useful and meaningful service to their community. Consumers have concerns. They want reliable information they can trust. They want to have a dialog where they can receive answers to specific questions. Facebook and Twitter are tools that should be utilized by hospitals for such purposes.
Hospitals are expected to be the local source for reliable health information. Traditionally hospitals have relied upon press releases and the local media to disseminate relevant health information. But with social media sites, hospitals can provide the information directly to the consumer as well as actually engage in an ongoing dialog. And by so doing, the hospital enhances it’s brand and builds loyalty and trust.
Using social networking sites to deal with the public’s health concerns is a great opportunity that shouldn’t be missed. But even more than that, it’s the right thing to do. It is one viable means to fulfill the hospital’s mission and its responsibility to the community.