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Witnessing the stunning adoption curve of social media sites like Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest and Instagram by the general public, it was only a matter of time before hospitals got on board and started developing online and social campaigns to attract new patients.
Though wary at first, more and more hospitals are now convinced that social media strategies can generate a significant return on investment and help them achieve their organization’s strategic goals. These organizations can use social media sites in different ways, depending on their needs. Hospitals can now webcast live lectures and conferences online, tweet health tips, answer patients’ questions and develop targeted advertising campaigns through Google and Facebook. Examples have shown that people are more likely to make appointments for consultations after following a conference online, reading a tweet or viewing and clicking on targeted ads.
Social media experts have mixed points of view on these new trends. On one hand, these patient outreach strategies can be seen as an invasion of privacy if they encounter online ads for medical services after searching for specific health information. On the other hand, some may argue that these methods benefit patients because they will be more likely to see ads that are relevant to their personal health situation.
At the end of the day, social media might be the new arena where hospitals will battle it out for new customers. The U.S. healthcare industry is in a growing phase with $786 billion in revenue and a 3.1% growth rate. Knowing this, successful social media strategies could be the game-changer in hospitals’ competition and a great way to increase their slice of the pie provided, of course, that they know how take advantage of the opportunity.
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