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Healthcare IT Companies That Shouldn’t Do Social Media

Posted on April 24, 2012 I Written By

John Lynn is the Founder of the HealthcareScene.com blog network which currently consists of 10 blogs containing over 8000 articles with John having written over 4000 of the articles himself. These EMR and Healthcare IT related articles have been viewed over 16 million times. John also manages Healthcare IT Central and Healthcare IT Today, the leading career Health IT job board and blog. John is co-founder of InfluentialNetworks.com and Physia.com. John is highly involved in social media, and in addition to his blogs can also be found on Twitter: @techguy and @ehrandhit and LinkedIn.

As I posted previously, I’m a very big proponent of healthcare IT companies using social media. Plus, as I mention in the column, I think you have to be careful to ensure that the voice of the company is involved in the social media efforts. Otherwise, you’ll lose your authentic voice and your social media efforts will be a fail. The best way to do this is through good training of your staff with smart outsourcing of certain aspects of your social media.

I believe that every healthcare IT and EHR company could benefit from social media, but I don’t think all healthcare IT and EHR companies should do social media. In fact, the company with the wrong culture will see bad results if they start using social media. Here are some issues a company might have that would make them not want to do social media:

Those Who Can’t Commit – If you can’t commit to social media, then don’t start. It’s better to do nothing then to have something laying their half done. For example, a blog should have at least 1 post a week. Anything less and you lose momentum and lose your audience. Twitter should be updated multiple times a week, but more importantly you need to make sure you respond to any relevant @ replies that you receive on Twitter. Don’t underestimate what I call the content beast. No matter how much you think you’re ahead, you’ll be surprised when it needs to get fed again. Be ready to commit to feed it regularly.

Those Overwhelmed by Their Email – This is partially related to the first point, but I think that your ability to manage your email is a good sign of whether you’ll be able to handle social medial or not. Starting into social media ends up adding more and more channels of information to be processed. If you have trouble managing one channel, email, then you’re likely going to feel extremely overwhelmed adding in multiple social media channels. Plus, most of those social media channels leverage email to some extent as well, so it will just make your email abyss even greater.

Those Who Don’t Care About Their Customers – This is a hard one for someone to understand and realize, but a few are self aware enough to realize it. The point is that if you don’t care about your customers to your very core, it will be seen in your communication on social media. I’m sure that most companies will wonder how this is possible because they’re so focused on the customer, but trust me they exist.

Those Who Suck – Sorry I couldn’t think of a better word, but it’s the only one that I think describes these companies. If your company has bad support, a poor sales process, and other related issues you don’t want to be found on social media. Imagine the questions that you’ll get if this is the case and your inability to properly respond to them. It makes for an ugly situation.

Those Who Can’t Take Heat – Some companies can’t take any sort of criticism. Instead of learning from the comments, they get confrontational. Sure, there will be some in social media who may make outlandish statements. Some people can’t resist the urge to start a confrontation. I’m certainly not perfect in this regard, but the best healthcare IT companies are humble in their approach to it. They correct when needed, but appreciate feedback from those who might see the world different than they do. A lot of good can come out of frank social media discussions. It’s not always about being right.

Those Who Drank the Kool-aid and Are Afraid of Those Who Haven’t – I must admit that these people always give me a good laugh. You might know the type of person I’m talking about. They’ve only worked for one company in healthcare IT (or maybe only one company ever) and they’ve been to one too many Ra Ra company meeting where all that they’ve heard is the good side of the story. I actually think social media is great for these people since it will help them to expand their mind. They just shouldn’t be the face of the company social media. I should probably add the other extreme: the long term jaded healthcare IT professional. I actually love these people on Twitter since they provide incredibly valuable insight. Although, you have to be careful having them as the face of the company.

I’m sure we could look at other characteristics that would prevent a company from deciding to participate in social media. I’d love to hear your thoughts and comments on this subject. Some stories would be quite interesting as well.

7 Tips for Marketing a Physician Practice Online and Healthcare IT Social Media

Posted on April 5, 2012 I Written By

John Lynn is the Founder of the HealthcareScene.com blog network which currently consists of 10 blogs containing over 8000 articles with John having written over 4000 of the articles himself. These EMR and Healthcare IT related articles have been viewed over 16 million times. John also manages Healthcare IT Central and Healthcare IT Today, the leading career Health IT job board and blog. John is co-founder of InfluentialNetworks.com and Physia.com. John is highly involved in social media, and in addition to his blogs can also be found on Twitter: @techguy and @ehrandhit and LinkedIn.

I was recently invited by Michelle McNickle of Healthcare Finance News to talk about tips and suggestions for marketing a physician practice to patients. Looking at the article on Healthcare Finance News I’m quite pleased with how it turned out. I think there’s some really good information in the article for those looking to market their practice online. Here are the 7 tips for those who don’t want to read the entire article:

  1. Develop a Social Media Plan
  2. Remember, the Goal is to Connect
  3. Understand Your Community
  4. Take Control of Your Online Presence
  5. Start Your Own Blog
  6. Don’t Be Afraid of Making Mistakes
  7. Find a Good Partner

I’d love to hear what other suggestions people have to market a practice online. Turns out I’m doing lunch with a local Las Vegas company that does this for the physician and dentist markets. I’ll be interested to hear their thoughts. Plus, I have another project which partially touches this space as well and will be a nice extension to Influential Networks. More on that in the future.

Healthcare IT Social Media
At HIMSS 2012, I found I was talking all the time about healthcare IT social media. I was on a Meet the Bloggers Panel, answered questions at the Social Media Genius Bar, participated in the #HITsm chat, hosted the New Media Meetup, etc. While I certainly enjoyed each of these events, I must admit that one of my favorite healthcare IT social media things I did at HIMSS was talking one on one with a company about social media.

It was funny how it happened too. The PR person had setup a meeting for this company to talk about whatever news they had coming out at HIMSS. I can’t remember what news, because when we sat down to chat they said they wanted to tell me about the news and they also wanted to pick my brain about blogging and healthcare social media. We probably should have taken the chat in that order, but we started discussing blogging and an hour or so later time was up.

From this experience I learned a couple important things. First, I have quite a bit of knowledge and skills I can share with healthcare IT companies interested in social media and blogging in particular. I also really enjoyed the one on one format where I was talking with one company about their social media and blogging needs. While you can certainly generalize a lot of points, there’s always some slight variation which helps a company better understand what they should really do.

I’ve actually gotten a number of requests from companies interested in assistance with their company’s social media efforts. I’ll admit that I’ve never felt comfortable with the right way to approach these requests. Can I see value for these companies to do social media? In 99% of cases, yes. Should all of these companies have a social media presence? I’d say in 75% of cases they could and should. What about the other 25% of companies? While I think pretty much all companies could benefit from social media, there’s some share of companies (I put it at 25%) that don’t have the company culture to make it happen. It’s kind of like trying to force an EHR down a 4 physician practice where none of those physicians wants EHR. The same goes for a healthcare IT company that doesn’t want social media.

As I considered all of these things, I wondered how I could help out companies interested in healthcare social media since there’s a big demand for it now. My biggest problem is that I have a hard time seeing outsourced social media working well for most healthcare IT companies. If you’re a billing or ICD-10 company how are you going to find someone who can really be authentic in your social media presence? At the core of good social media is authenticity.

Sure, you can outsource a well designed one off social media campaign, but I think this falls apart for long term social media efforts. Some of the best social media brings out the culture of the company and how can someone outside that culture effectively communicate it? It’s possible, but much harder and can often fall on its face. Plus, this doesn’t even take into account the scam/sham/joke companies out there that use all the buzz words, but do little to benefit the company.

For me, healthcare IT social media is best done by the company. Some ancillary services can compliment what the company is doing, but the voice of your social media should be people in the company. Then, you can use other outside services to amplify that voice.

How then do you “train” your company so that social media is just a part of what the company does? I’ve been kicking this idea around in my head. It seems the best way would be to have an expert come for a day seminar with your company to talk about social media and your company. There would be prep done before the seminar to understand the needs of the company, the current social media footprint and make sure the company is ready to run. It makes no sense for an expert to train a company that’s not interested in running or that isn’t ready to dive into social media. Plus, I’ve been writing an online resource for blogging that I’ve been thinking about adapting for use by healthcare IT companies. It could serve as the “handbook” for the seminar.

What do you think of this idea? Do you think that social media can be outsourced for a healthcare IT company?

My gut feeling is that many healthcare IT companies are lost in the ocean of social media. They need help knowing how to focus their energies. Many see the need to engage in social media and have the desire to be part of it, but aren’t sure what to do and where to start. However, most would be better served to learn how to swim in the social media waters as opposed to buying a ticket on the boat which drops them off back where they started.