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Overcoming the barriers to social media uptake in healthcare

Last night, a diverse group (in both disciplines and locations) came together on Twitter to discuss the place of social media in health organisations.

The #hcsmanz discussion group included two pharmacists (one from Central Australia and the other from the UK), a medical educator from New York, a doctor from Perth, two medical students, an agency nurse from Perth, a public health researcher from Sydney, someone working in youth mental health, an environmental health scientist from Brisbane, a healthcare IT professional from Brisbane, and the director of research at a Victorian university. Canada’s Community Health Centres also dropped by for a short while.

This mixed group shares an interest in encouraging the use of social media in the health sector (for more about this group see this previous Croakey post).

You can read the transcript from last night’s tweet up for yourself, but the summary is that there are many barriers to wider use of social media in health care, and one step forward might be to develop a policy emphasising the positives, that could be adapted by health organisations to fit their needs. “Any policy should be written to the strengths of SM: speed and responsiveness, and its risks: speed and responsiveness,” noted one discussant.

It was also suggested that the #hcsmanz group could set up a library of social media policies from healthcare organisations to serve as exemplars.

Other snippets that may be of interest…

Reasons that health care organisations don’t use social media

• fear of litigation

• lack of knowledge, skills, training

• lack of organisational policy

• cultural issues. These include that: social media forces a shift from broadcasting to dialogue and many health organisations are not used to thinking that way; and that “health organisations are based on them being authorities. SM dissolves social hierarchies, so they are a threat”.

• resistance to change. One organisation trying to introduce Yammer (a tool described in this previous Croakey post) is meeting comments such as “Why can’t we use email?” “Seriously what happened to talking?” “I’m not interested in social media, it’s stupid”.

• attitudes to media generally and social media in particular. As one discussant noted: “Some organisations don’t even handle traditional media well. Will be hard to make the change to new media.”

***

Issues for organisations to consider

• a challenge when developing social media policies is that they often lag behind the evolution of social media

• who owns social media in an organisation? It shouldn’t be limited to PR/communications team but be seen as being owned by all areas

•  the structures for approval/control of public statements is a major obstacle for large organisations

***

What are potential enablers?

• having a social media policy

• ICT infrastructure

• training

• a simple extracurricular course on social media

***

The topic for the next tweetup is: social media tips to engage health professionals in sharing knowledge with ease.

***

Update: Ask and ye shall receive…or so it seems to go on Twitter.

In response to the suggestion for a compilation of social media policies in healthcare, @themetwo circulated this list of guidelines compiled by @EdBennett

And @hcsmanz circulated this pretty picture of the chat:

wordpic

I suppose that some will think “business case” is what’s missing from the picture…

Comments 8

  1. The biggest barrier that comes up at every single #hcsmanz chat is that too many people are barred from accessing social media at work. I get that – workplaces don’t want people to waste time. The problem is they effectively close off any potential benefits too.

    The shift to dialogue instead of broadcast is a simple but profound issue. It means opening yourself up to new ideas, new contacts, being told your wrong and, in fact, being wrong. Repeatedly! SM is probably best characterised as an ongoing learning experience.

  2. trethowan says:

    I was a late comer to hcsmanz discussion as GPAG2011 so thanks for the transcript. Since joining our Division of General Practice up to Twitter 12 months ago I have been nothing short of impressed with the value gained from social media. So far I have not asked GPs or anyone for that matter to get onto Twitter because… You just should… Far from convincing.

    However, now seems like a better time than ever to start the conversation about why social media such as Twitter can save time or give time poor individuals a quick heads up or a link if you really want to know more. Take the next moves with establishing Medicare Locals in your local area as an example. Rather than pretend I am a journalist and do a daily blog or write lengthy newsletter articles filled with the latest reform language which everyone hangs off every word (not!), why not encourage people if you want the updates follow us on Twitter? Still doesn’t sound that convincing – any thoughts?

    Cheers
    Jason

  3. Shaun Hughston says:

    As an integral part of our marketing strategy to recruit doctors around Australia and overseas, we are developing our social media capacity to encompass a a twitter feed dedicated to news, and another feed specifically for job listings. We are also adapting our strategy to ensure it is appropriate for different age groups in our market – with our Facebook page aimed at a different demographic to our twitter feeds.

    One of the great advantages of social media over email and plain websites in recruitment is the ability for users to share the information with others. As long as healthcare organisations, particularly the public variety, are encumbered by old-school communications thinking, they will be left behind in the medical recruitment market.

  4. ding says:

    Here we go… the early days of a social media experiment!

    I am trying out the medium of facebook to start a dicussion on how we can improve the current mess that is private/ public health service with the increasing gaps that we have to make to access health care.
    It would be great to get enough people involved to start a real discussion that could take to government and the health funds.

    For example the health credit cards (recently reported on this blog) or health savings accounts being used Singapore and Canada.

    Its early days, but if you like these ideas, or have a better idea, join the conversation on a new indepedent facebook page… (please click LIKE while you are there!)

    http://www.facebook.com/pages/Why-Do-I-Have-Private-Health-Insurance/153329234715351

  5. @Shaun Hughston Nice ad 🙁

  6. Janet Hopkins says:

    Thanks for the post and the transcript. Re samples of social media policies, this link brings together a list of links on the web which might be helpful: http://socialmediagovernance.com/policies.php

  7. knelson says:

    Social media is a shift in focus from simply telling to engaging and listening. In the past 12 months I have seen it evolve into a major tool in my communication toolbox. Stories or health awareness issues that may not be worthy of a full media release can get a run on twitter or facebook, and more often than not they get picked up by local main stream print media. I now can’t imagine a world without social media. I strongly believe that organisations who ban access to social media truely don’t understand it and its power. By setting the boundaries and implementing good rules of engagement you are then allowing your greatest advocates, your staff, to tell your story.

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Summer reading 2020-2021
Tasmanian election 2021
Testing Croakey News category 1
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Croakey Conference News Service 2013 – 2019
2013 conferences
Australian Centre for Health Services Innovation Forum 2013
Australian Health Promotion Association Conference 2013
Closing the Credibility Gap 2013
CRANAplus Conference 2013
FASD Conference 2013
Health Workforce Australia 2013
International Health Literacy Network Conference 2013
NACCHO Summit 2013
National Rural Health Conference 2013
Oceania EcoHealth Symposium 2013
PHAA conference 2013
2014 conferences
#IPCHIV14
AIDA Conference 2014
Congress Lowitja 2014
CRANAplus conference 2014
Cultural Solutions - Healing Foundation forum 2014
Lowitja Institute Continuous Quality Improvement conference 2014
National Suicide Prevention Conference 2014
Racism and children/youth health symposium 2014
Rural & Remote Health Scientific Symposium 2014
2015 conferences
#CPHCEforum
#CRANAplus15
#HSR15
#NRHC15
#OTCC15
Population Health Congress 2015
2016 conferences
#AHHAsim16
#AHMRC16
#ANROWS2016
#ATSISPEP
#AusCanIndigenousWellness
#cphce2016
#CPHCEforum16
#CRANAplus2016
#IAMRA2016
#LowitjaConf2016
#PreventObesity16
#TowardsRecovery
#VMIAC16
#WearablesCEH
#WICC2016
2017 conferences