Associated Press

Healthcare Marketing: Media Consumption has Shifted in Politics too!

For the two political conventions TV viewership was down and social media usage was up.

The recently completed Republican and Democratic political conventions revealed the dramatic changes occurring in media usage.   Television viewership plunged, depending on the night, from 25-40% from 2008.  And according to Nielsen the television audience was decisively older with very low number for viewers 18-34.  There were ten times more viewers 55 or older than 18-34.

But on the other hand, social networks and online saw a dramatic increase from the conventions just four years ago.  Several news organizations offered live streaming feeds online and both parities saw significant traffic on their respective YouTube channels.   The two conventions have also been one of the most talked about events of the year on Facebook.  But even there, the audience trended older.  Twitter was perhaps the biggest winner among social media options.  Where information is shared in increments of 140 words or less, Twitter only registered 365,000 tweets between the two conventions in 2008.  But this year the Republican convention alone drew 5 million tweets.  About 14,300 a minute during Romney’s acceptance speech, according to Beth Fouhy of the Associated Press.

These numbers just confirm what is obvious.  Media consumption is dramatically changing.  Now consumers are not tied to their living rooms and a TV set for news and information.  With laptops, tablets and smartphones, consumers can gather information wherever they are.  On demand.  Media consumption occurs anyplace online access is available.  And the information is often gathered by consumers in small increments of time and bits of information and not necessarily long format like a 3-4 hour convention coverage on television.

For healthcare marketers, it doesn’t tell us that traditional media is no longer effective, but that we must consider and explore other non-traditional mediums to be relevant and reach a broader audience.  And that is especially true if we want to reach the younger audience.  Only a few healthcare organizations have a marketing staff large enough to have a presence everywhere but every organization should be active in one or two.  Choose the one(s) that could be most effective for your brand and for which you can develop a good competency and consistent use and go for it. 

We might not have learned much from watching and listening to the conventions on whatever medium we used to consume them, but one thing we did confirm is that consumer media consumption is indeed shifting.  And we must embrace it.

Hospital Marketing: Social Media as Customer Service Tool

Hospitals and doctors are using social networking as a means of delivering a higher level of customer service by providing more communication with patients and their families. 

Every fifteen minutes the patient’s family receives an update on a Blackberry from the operating room, which gives them a status report and informs them how the patient is doing.  Surgeons use Twitter to report the details of an ongoing surgery.   Patients receive educational information from their doctor concerning the health issue they face. Prospective surgical patients watch a webcast of the surgery they are considering. Instead of going to the doctor’s office, a patient receives answers electronically to her health questions.

All the above are real examples of social media being used by healthcare providers as cited by Nirvi Shah in a November 9th article in the Miami HeraldSocial media tools are increasingly being used to provide information, and a higher level of customer service.

Many hesitate to use social media due to concerns about patient privacy.  But users avoid those concerns by using just one of a patient’s initials or just the age of patients. Messages are generally vague so that they would only make sense to the patient’s family.  And public posts are simply educational or very general in regard to details. 

Many patients consider the use of social media tools as modern day bedside manner.  It’s a way to make a stronger connection between the healthcare provider and patient.  It’s a means of making patients and their family more comfortable.

The tools of social media provide a wide range of opportunities to improve and enhance customer service.  Educational information and one-to-one conversations delivered through social media venues can be an extremely valuable asset to hospitals and physicians.  In a very competitive environment, the adoption of such tools can create a very significant advantage.