One of the positions required in the 21st Century is SOCIAL MEDIA MANAGER.
Hospitals may have Communications Managers or Public Relations Managers or occasionally press officers for really large institutions. In my experience these positions are largely about reducing, not increasing, communication with the public and with the hospital’s relevant communities – unless of course there is a good news story.
In the age of social media the hospitals will need social media managers because if they don’t have them their communities will be incorporating them (hospitals) into social media commentary without their input.
Hospitals will worry about negative comments but in general that is fine….in fact some might consider it to be called ‘accountability’. Interestingly social media may help identify hospitals providing quality care: Bardach NS, Asteria-peñaloza R, Boscardin WJ, Adams dudley R. The relationship between commercial website ratings and traditional hospital performance measures in the USA. BMJ Qual Saf. 2012. In this study high Yelp scores correlated with lower readmission rates and mortality.
Social media provides an avenue for the public to provide feedback on hospital performance that may help hospitals undertake quality improvement: so social media is part of a consumer engagement strategy. In addition social media is a channel to keep the community informed about important health information, e.g. a flu-outbreak. Social media could be used to keep the community appraised of opportunities to participate in research. And of course there are fund-raising opportunities.
For the moment the hospital I work in won’t allow staff to access social media at work so I’m not expecting a social media manager any time soon. Sooner or later we’ll have to join the rest of the world.