Hospital Social Media Bandwidth Demand is Heating Up

Evolution, evolution, evolution. Word of mouth gone digital…and the result, a CIO’s worst nightmare: SQUEEZE MORE IN THE PIPES! reported in April, 2010 stats that we already know intrisically…7% of all business Internet traffic is going to Facebook and 10% of bandwidth used in a business is getting chewed up with YouTube. Makes sense because YouTube has become the number two search engine below Google.

Let’ look at the Facebook stats:

  • More than 400 million active users
  • 50% of active users log on to Facebook in any given day
  • Average user has 130 friends
  • People spend over 500 billion minutes per month on Facebook

WOW…so, we know that people are accessing Facebook at work in some capacity. Let’s look at another statistic that I found interesting: There are more than 100 million active users currently accessing Facebook through their mobile devices and people that use Facebook on their mobile devices are twice more active on Facebook than non-mobile users.

Well…if you can’t get it on the company computer then you can pull out that iPhone, Blackberry, Android, etc. to access you favorite social media site. I have already tackled the reality of why hospitals and organizations should open up the pipes to Social Media, so I wanted to look at what are the hesitations for corporate decision makers. What are the top two arguments for not opening up the pipes to Social Media: 1) employee productivity and 2) bandwidth.

Infrastructure is a huge issue. Think of it this way. I have a house that was built in the 1920’s. The plumbing in the house was probably re-built in the late 70’s. I have a half-inch pipe servicing my house…so when someone is the shower, you better not flush the toilet or turn on the washing machine. And…do not plan on taking two showers at one time or consider doing the ole Navy Shower routine: turn on water and rinse, turn off water and wash, turn on water and rinse.

So…using this analogy…think of bandwidth in the same regard. Lots of hospitals have the same position when it comes to IT infrastructure. Legacy wiring, switches, etc. to support an ever increasing demand for bandwidth. So imaging opening the flood gates to all social media and other resource intensive web based, community platforms. There is only so much a hospital or organization can support given the current infrastructure. So with the demands of increasing bandwidth needs and access to information…there are policies and procedures that have to be put into place to decide how to allocate resources. The Department of Defense just recently opened up the pipes to Social Media but put into place strict guidelines for use…a “Consistent Policy.” “There has to be since 47 million of Americans visit Facebook daily, which is nearly as many who watch TV daily (55 percent),” states Neilsen.

So how do we get hospitals’ and organizations CIO’s and IT Departments on-board with opening up the pipes for Social Media’s:

  • First – Build a team to assess this demand. This includes heads of marketing/pr, IT (CIO), finance (CFO), and service area department heads.
  • Second – Build an advisory team built of individuals on the ground level. These are the individuals actively accessing Social Media as brand ambassadors.
  • Third – Build policies and procedures for implementing Social Media usage on all levels. Whether it is a patient, visitor, employee, or leadership…all users should have guidelines for usage.
  • Fourth – Assess current infrastructure and how the increase in demand of data will affect infrastructure and costs associated with opening the pipes.
  • Fifth – Implement a strategic plan for who and when can access Social Media platforms. This is based on access and cost to access data.

Bandwidth costs money, whether if it is the amount of data transfer, the physical pieces of technology that manage the pipes, or the human capital accessing the networks…time and usage is money. So what type of investment should we allocate to this growing demand for information?

Remember the one stat that I mentioned earlier, one that I am sure is making a CIO happy: there are more and more people accessing Facebook on mobile devices. Is this out of necessity because corporate pipes have been locked down or is the mere fact more and more mobile devices have access to fast data and applications. This is diverting the bandwidth issue but raising the problem of whose mobile device is being used to access the Social Media’s? Is the company footing the bill for the device or is it a personal device; regardless, people are accessing Social Media.

People want access to stories and they are connecting with stories via social media’s!

It is a Social Media Revolution…I am still thinking!

Well it is a two days after the South Carolina Hospital Association’s Social Media Revolution and day two of synthesizing a ton of good conversations. One thing that has been re-affirmed…it is still Social Media and it needs to stay social. Seriously, they are media’s and they are controlled by the social masses.

Reed Smith finished with this parting question,” Who Owns Social Media?” My opinion, the masses. The people that are using these media’s to socialize, share information, connecting with others are the ones that own social media. Organizations are just one of the many people in this vast paradigm interacting with other colleagues,  constituency bases just like my mother sharing pictures of her Vegas trip. She has an audience, she engages with her audience, shares information, receives a level of response, and continues to engage in conversations. If people were not responding, commenting, engaging, sharing, and generating conversation…then Facebook would not be the Number One website jumping over Google (Via Ed Bennett)

We as marketers, hospitals, organizations should understand and respect the paradigm, or we will find one more way to shape a vastly growing medium into a form of one-way conversation…one more time! So, it comes back to audience…knowing our audience and finding ways to join the convesation instead of creating one more marketing stream, hoping that some mom from the age 25-34 is going to by into our poorly created message as we cram it into a medium with a sledge hammer. We have big sledge hammers!

Social Media is no longer an after thought when it comes to hospitals marketing strategies. VP’s and Marketing Directors are quickly trying to evaluate staff resources and figure out how to staff the shift.  The shift is not just Social Media, but New Media and Rich Media. We are asking questions to those large organizations how they are staffing a marketing/pr and comparing it the numbers of the web/media staff. Some do not have a web/media staff, outsourcing to a vendor in the hopes it will create a band aid until the next fiscal conversation.

Ed Bennett told the crowd of 125 at SCHA’s Conference Center that his staff at the University of Maryland Medical Center is 8 web/new media professionals servicing all social media and web outlets compared to the marketing/pr staff has 8 members as well. They are making the shift and taking control of creation and distribution of the their message. Amen brother…preach it to us, we will follow. Trust me, every decision maker in that room was jotting down that number and thinking about integrating those stats into their strategic capital requests! Bottom-line, that is where the ROI discussion should be located.

Social Media efforts are now being integrated into every aspect of a hospital’s and physician’s marketing efforts. They are learning that Social Media has another ROI point of interest, it is generating direct hits to their web portals, directing audiences to the message, reducing bounce rates, and creating strategic linkage systems that bolster rankings in the search engines. It is a search engine war as hospitals in the same geographic areas are competing for the search engine space. Not only with Google but with YouTube…why, because YouTube is the Number 2 search engine right now, today! (Via Ed Bennett) Hospitals are creating rich media that gives audiences palatable information that helps potential clients make decisions from service lines to which ER (ED) to choose.

Social Media efforts are being integrated daily into all campaigns. It is no longer the game of just creating a billboard and “brochure” and then create a totally different message for web/social media/new media outlets. Now, these efforts are being combined, where there is a conversation of consistency in design across the whole board. You no longer see the Facebook and Twitter logo as an after thought at the bottom of a print piece, it is taking over as a major position in the design and including the exact URL to find this social media outlet. Oh yeah…we are in a mode of securing our domains before someone takes over our message. Look at what happened to BP, someone created a Twitter account (@BPGlobalPR) to post off color messages about the oil spill in the gulf. Is it really a pr nightmare?

And…OH…AND…TWITTER AND FACEBOOK ARE NOT THE ONLY SOCIAL MEDIA’s! Conversations are being created on Flickr and YouTube. People like to share pictures and video. They like to be creative and find others that share their vision. So campaigns are being created so that audiences can take part in the media creation. Organizations are creating campaigns allowing audience to submit videos and pictures that lead to idea generation and community building. We all have a way to express ourselves so why not capitalize on user generated media. Plus, marketing departments know they are biased based on strategic messaging (that waters down the social conversation), it makes more sense to let the audience lead the way. Once again, the masses own Social Media.

Policies and Procedures…oh yeah, that too. It is time to dust off that HR generated web policy that we have employees signed, the one that was created in the 1980’s. It is time to realize that we cannot close the pipes much longer inside hospitals and organizations. There is this new little nifty thing called a mobile device. Yes, those phones that are now media generators and media distributors. We can now walk around hospitals until we find that service bar on the phone, take a picture, and upload it to Facebook. Do not mind the fact that I cannot log onto Facebook from my company issued computer…we will show them. Do not mind that the hospital’s Wifi is in and out, we can get close to a window, get service, and send a picture of Uncle Harry that just got out of surgery and is ok now! Oh, there is this new thing called an iPad and a Netbook that does not need Wifi anymore and it has a the ability to do more than the mobile phone. So we need to generate a policy that is more than just a social media policy, it is Media Communication Policy for not only employees but patients as well. Signs need to be put up around hospitals to remind of best practices when taking pictures and sharing information.


So where are we now and where are we going? Heck if I know, but I know this…location based technologies like FourSquare and Gowalla are hear and gaining traction. They are the real Social Media ROI generators, when people check into a location, it provides an exact location for all the masses to see. We now can start targeting information and strategies based on where the masses (or audiences) are checking in. We should, because Starbucks is doing it, providing incentives for those who check in the most…DISCOUNTS! Hmm, this could work well for hospitals that have wellness programs integrated with work-out facilities.

I tell you what, that Reed Smith and Ed Bennett are smart peeps…and Micheal Shetterly of Ogletree Deakins Law Firm got me thinking about this Social Media Revolution. It is about audience, purpose, delivery, engagement, and right to privacy. Yes, Right to Privacy…and what is your expectation to privacy. These new policies and procedures need to include how, when, and where information is created and distributed, especially if the company is footing the bill for that Balckberry, iPhone, or Android you are carrying. If they pay, they might have a right to access the information you generate on that device.

Social Media is here to stay and we cannot avoid it…AT ALL. So it is time to find ways to staff it, generate best practices, follow the audiences that own it, and be prepared for it’s evolution. This Social Media Revolution is going to evolve into the next media revolution that has the acceleration of an “E” ratio…forward and fast!

BTW – The Adams Group had two great recaps of Social Media Revolution: Part One & Part Two

It is a Social Media Revolution! Getting ready for healthcare panel discussion.

South Carolina Hospital Association (@SCHospitals) and Carolina Healthcare Public Relations & Marketing Society have put together a Social Media Conference in Columbia, South Carolina; a conference to bring hospitals from North and South Carolina to have a conversation. They call it a Social Media Revolution.

Thought leaders Ed Bennett and Reed Smith will be leading the discussion and providing the platform for hospital discourse to flow freely…the conversation: what does Social Media mean for my hospital. If you want to follow the conversation on Twitter…Click Here or use the hashtag #smrev via Twitter.

I have been asked to lead a panel discussion in the afternoon, so I thought I would spend a few minutes to refine some notes for the discussion.

Here are our panelist:
Dr. David Geier (@DrDavidGeier)
Director of Sports Medicine | MUSC

Ronda Wilson (@GHShospitals)
Director of PR & Marketing | Georgetown Hospital

Andrew Busam (@randolphhosp)
Public Relations Coordinator | Randolph Hospital

Sally Foister (@SallySF & @GHS_org)
Director of Marketing | Greenville Hospital System University Medical Center

Discussion Points:

– How did you get started?
– What are your successes?
– How did you get started operationally/organizationally
– How do you manage your outlets?
– How do you find the resources to manage?
– How does SM fit into overall strategy
– Georgetown – Why did you wait “so long” to integrate?
– Dr. Geier – How do you use it under the umbrella of a bigger organization?

– How is SM being used as a HR/recruitment tool
– How do you manage conversations inside an organization? Or do you?
– Can it be used to recruit nurses?
– How are you using to promote career paths?
– Is recruitment a part of your strategy?

HIPPA/Patient Information

– How do you deal with privacy?
– How do you deal with SM Diagnosing?
– Do you want to be a thought leader online but not physician online?
– How do you use SM to create conversations as a physician?

– How can a small bed hospital use SM to engage a community?
– How do you monitor conversations and address audience concerns/complaints?
– How do you manage accounts?
– Who wears the “Company” hat or who keeps it personal?
– What is the strategy from an aesthetic branding perspective?

Building Career Relationships Goes Beyond the Resume

When I think back over the course of my career…the one thing that I can say is that I have never gotten a job because of a resume. Every job I have gotten has been based on a relationship….the resume was a formality in the job hiring process – HR required it for my file.

As I work with students and other professionals, it has been my philosophy it is not what you is who you know. When teaching on a collegiate level especially in a business writing class; i do not teach how to write a resume…I teach how to build relationships to get the resume in the right hands.

It is my belief that that the hand shake is today’s resume in the business world. During a recessionary time period, employers are being flooded with resume’s after resumes. Even a janitor job in Ohio received over 700 job applications…WOW. In a slumping economy, it is important to find ways to separate yourself away from the pack.

Think…does two pieces of paper listing your job history, education, experience, and qualifications accurately represent your abilities, personality, and willingness to be a vital part of an organization? Why do you think so many employers want to interview the person before they are hired. Imagine if you spent just as much energy when applying for a job figuring out the name of the hiring manager or decision maker, then put yourself in a position to meet them and shake their hand.

Some say that the origin of the hand shake came from Medieval Europe where kings and knights would extend their hands to each other and grasp the others’ hand as demonstration that each did not possess a concealed weapon and intended no harm.

The hand shake communicates lots of different non-verbal cues but ultimately it is a product of relationship building.

Why do we spend so much time building a resume. Well, it is an educational/professional process to organize our background, qualities, education, honors, etc. into one place. It is a snap shot of who we are and what we represent professionally. It is tremendous exercise to go through the process of compiling a resume. This forces the job seeker, to organize thoughts so that when we meet with other professionals…this writing process has organized our thoughts. It is a starting point for conversation and can be a reference when filling out a job application. It is my opinion that the resume is not the “end all be all.”

There is more to a job or joining an organization than the ability to organize our resume. We should spend just as much time, actually more time building career relationships as we do putting together a resume. We should be teaching students and professionals how to network, make “elevator pitches”, shake hands…ultimately building relationships.

Facebook for Business –> Find a job as a college student

Yesterday, I sat in a planning session for NetworkBash Fall 2010 with a great group from the Michelin Career Center at Clemson University. As we sat and began planning the three sessions for this fall, we talked about the social media session in October and what seminars will be created. We talked a bit about Facebook for a few minutes and the do’s and don’ts. I mentioned a seminar idea of protecting information, not revealing unwanted pictures and information employers could take out of context. A few of the staff members used this as a seminar with a few students a few months ago, and there was an overwhelming consensus…students understand the privacy issues but what they wanted to know: how to connect and engage with employers using Facebook.

OK…so here are my thoughts:

  • Make a list of companies you wish to engage with, ones you want to hire you.
  • Use Facebook to see if these companies have a Facebook presence (Fan Page, Group, Etc.). Try to identify if it is a legitimate Facebook representation of the company or organization.
  • Once you find those companies, join the Group, Page, etc.
  • Watch the conversations in these groups and find updates that you can comment on that is not “intrusive.”
  • Look to see who else is a part of the Group or Page, and look over their profiles.
  • In those profiles, identify any people that might be working for company or organization. Also, look for the “Administrator” of the Group or Page and see if they work for this company or organization.
  • Send a “Friend Request” to the individuals that might work for the company or organization.
  • Continue to watch over this Group or Page and learn the language of the group and try to understand as much as possible: the purpose of the Group or Page, the initiatives of the company or organization, if they have events you can attend, and who are the people you need to establish a connection.
  • Once they accept they accept the “Friend Request,” try to engage in a conversation that could lead to an in-person meeting or on the phone conversation.
  • Do not use Facebook as a way to spam the employers with messages, but as a platform to engage in conversation that can lead to a meaningful relationship.

Communicating our story: What is our brand message?

How many freaking hats to do we wear? As entrepreneurs, business people, business owners, marketing professionals, whatever it may be…we wear so many freaking hats. With all of these social media technologies sprouting up faster than the hair on my face…we are constantly trying to figure out how we use them, for which audiences, and which brand.

Yep…these hats we wear…they are our brands. Really, think of all the brands we represent under our own umbrella? At any point in time, we are involved in at-least three to five different things where we have to take off one hat and put on another. Currently, I juggle four different hats…the company I am own (Bobby Rettew, LLC), the class I teach (Business Writing at Clemson), my personal life (home life, family, marriage, etc.), and the collegiate networking event I have developed (NetworkBash at Clemson). Each of these hats support the overall brand of Bobby Rettew. But each one of these hats, these brands are like subsidiaries of a bigger company umbrella.

Why is this important…as more and more communication tools emerge and social media technologies help us communicate…we have define & develop each brand so that we know how to communicate while we are wearing each particular hat (brand). You have to define the brand before you can figure out how to communicate the brand. So step back and think, what is the mission statement of each brand. Define it…when you put on that particular hat for that brand, what is your mission statement. Now the mission statement for that brand is more than just the mission statement of the company itself, but how you represent that company.

Example, let’s take Bobby Rettew, LLC for a second…it is one of the hats that I wear. Let’s write the mission statement for this brand:

1) Bobby Rettew, LLC is a messaging company that uses new media and social media to produce and distribute the message online.
2) Bobby Rettew is the principle owner of Bobby Rettew, LLC as a storyteller, message creator, new media producer, videographer, and non-linear editor while also handling all marketing and public relations.

So when I put on the Bobby Rettew, LLC hat…I am constantly trying to find new ways to market and spread the word about our services while servicing the clients that we represent.

Now….how the hell do we deal with all the ways we communicate for each brand…each hat we wear. I have to keep things separate to try to manage. For starters, I have separate email addresses for each brand, each hat that I wear. But hold on…there are so many freaking different ways to communicate..and so many hats…and so many audiences.

Well…each hat that you wear, each brand you represent has specific audiences and specific ways to communicate to those audiences. Using LinkedIn might make sense to communicate as I wear my personal brand but might not work while wearing my Business Writing at Clemson brand. We have to define each method of communication for each brand and how we use each method.

While I am wearing the personal Bobby Rettew brand, I use Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, Blog, email, video, and Face-To-Face. But each one has different communities, different ways we interact, and different ways we use that technology. BUT EACH IS DIFFERENT…and they are only ways we communicate.

OK…step back for one second because not all of these work for all communities! Not all of these work for all of your brands! Really…if Twitter is not appropriate…THEN DO NOT USE IT!

So, how do you figure this out? Get out a piece of paper and draw a triangle. Label each point with Purpose, Audience, and Delivery. Then above the triangle, write the word Context. The context is the brand you are trying to communicate. Identify the audience and the purpose of the brand…then list all the delivery methods (Twitter, Facebook, Face-To-Face, Video, Email, etc.) that would work to meet the audiences needs. Choose one, two, three, or all of the above.

Why am I writing this….because there is a lot of hype about social media technologies and they are growing not only in numbers but also market engagement. As these social media technologies grow, more groups are engaging from both an audience perspective and from and marketer perspective. Throw this in the bag of tricks with all the other tools that we as practitioners use to execute our strategies. It is becoming more and more important to identify why and how we use each tool to meet the audiences needs.

So many marketing professionals are starting to blend the strategies of one communication strategy to the next. Each communication strategy is not a one size fits all. This is evident in the increase spam we receive in email, less engaging Twitter followers, a Fan Page invite for every cause that has some sense of life, and blog after blog after blog entry that has no purpose other than just increasing the digital footprint.

Hello friends…did you know that print still works, television advertising is still affective, Face-To-Face is alive an breathing, and word-of-mouth is the most powerful of all. Each of these is a technology…each with an inherent purpose. So here is the real reason why I am writing this…we (including me) need to sit back and identify why and how we are using each of these technologies to meet the needs of the audience and the purpose of the brand. There is a fine line in capitalizing in a new technology when it is only a technology.

I am writing this to myself, to remind myself that I am a practitioner that represents the best interest of my clients and their brands. How are we helping our clients wear their hats, their brands, and communicate their message. If the hat fits and the megaphone is working….then lets communicate the brand. What hats are you wearing and how are you communicate those brands? I am not a brand strategist…I am just a professional communicator.

Social Media: “Where is the Beef” – Cleaning out the Noise!

It is about that time…time to re-evaluate and get organized. I have been using Twitter for the last year and a half; and now I am to the point to re-evaluate some things. About a month ago, Spike Jones cleared out his Twitter Account. Well, he actually closed his account for two weeks. Regardless of his intentions and underlying reasons, it got me thinking. What is the value of following close to 3000 people and have the equal number following me? What does that really mean?

When I train organizations to use Twitter for business, I describe “this” social media (Twitter) this way. It is like going to be ole event, say a conference. The people attending are those who you are following. When you walk through the doors of the conference room, you notice those 3000 people talking in groups or even just hanging out. When you walk into the room, you have some purpose for attending. Whether you are there to meet someone, find a group of people, or sit at a table; you make your way through the room, stop and talk with people for a minute. You shake hands, share pleasantries, and even engage for a few minutes in some conversations. You do this as you make your way through the crowd…jumping in and out of conversations. This is how I view Twitter and the conversations I engage while using TweetDeck.

Over time I started using Twitter lists…creating columns of people to watch and enjoy conversations. These conversations are organized in lists based on subjects. The subjects (or columns) I have been watching have evolved…and so have some of the relationships. Those online relationships I had last year have changed in some way whether it may be based on interests or different places professionally.

I use Twitter for BUSINESS. I forge personal relationships and business relationships via Twitter based on business positions. My business is my name (Bobby Rettew, LLC) and my business is both my personal and business life. So “Twitter Means Business” for me!

So…I have re-arranged who I follow, who I have in columns, who I have in lists, and have made a goal to forge new and exciting relationships along with continuing to grow current, strong relationships.

I am getting rid of the noise! Those senseless self, over promoters. Cleaning out the “Snake Oil” and bringing more “beef” to my online interactions.

Health Care C-Suites…have time to blog?

One of the hardest parts of getting health care organizations to engage with blogs, is finding the personnel to actually write the blogs. The idea behind the blog is easy to sell to an organization, even the organization gets excited about the idea of the blog, but it ultimately comes down to servicing the blog. This even transcends social media technologies…once  an organization engages, then it is all about servicing the social media platforms.

This comes down to personnel and fundamental problem beyond staffing, integrating something new in the marketing/pr strategy. Hospitals and health care organizations are typically large organizations with a marketing staff that is already stretched.

Social media strategies have to integrate obtainable goals simple strategies that make time management a feasible part of the current workload. This provides a couple of things, user engagement and simple ROI. Health care marketing professionals have to find some positive result to integrate a new strategy inside the organization and their respective silo.

Executive leadership loves the idea of blogs because it gives them the power to control the message. It is an effective pr engine that allows C-Suite professionals to combat out-of-context quotes in newspapers and other forms of media. It is also provides a tremendous platform for C-Suite professionals to take a stand of health care issues related to health care reform. This issue has brought many CEO’s to the blogger world to protect the market space and the hospital they represent…why, it is a political battle that affects a hospitals’ bottom-line and patient ratings.

“Once step at a time!” – This is what I tell health care marketing directors and C-Suite professionals. If you want to start a social media strategy or a blogging strategy…do not bite off more than you can chew.

Write a mission statement for the strategy and plan out when you will service these social medias. This is purely a time management issue…plan it out! Decide who will service the blog or social media. If the CEO is going to write his/her blog, then set a schedule for them to integrate within the busy schedule. This means, integrate the proper technology to facilitate this action. Make sure IT turns down the firewalls so the CEO and marketing professional can access these sites. Also, if a marketing professional is going to help the CEO or Executive to service the blog, set schedules and goals for posts. Be prepared to step away from the schedule if a topical event comes to the forefront that needs to be addressed by the executive.

Also…create a simple strategy to measure your success. Do this from the beginning. Decide what you are “tracking.” Basically, how many times you update, how many followers, how many hits are generated via links, etc. Set obtainable goals.

With C-Suites in health care tackling the blogging world, look at other executives who are blogging. Check out the length of the posts and frequency of the updates. Also, decide whether you want to allow your audience to respond to your posts. This is crucial, because if you allow those to comment on your posts…you need to make sure respond to each comment. Find other blogs that you can regularly read. This is a part of your time management schedule and it allows you to learn not only the “in’s & out’s” of blogging, but it gets you in the language of blogging.

Social media for health care organizations is a reality, but now it us up to the organization how they not integrate the strategy but service it long term.

Great Health Care CEO Blogs:
Running A Hospital – Paul Levy – President and CEO of Beth Israel
Thornton Kirby’s Blog – President & CEO of South Carolina Hospital Association
William L. Roper, MD, MPH – CEO, University of North Carolina Health Care System

Hospitals should open the “pipes” for Social Media!

Hospitals need to start opening up the pipes to social media inside the hospitals. Like most large organizations, hospitals clamp down on whether employees can access certain web properties: whether it is ESPN, Yahoo, and now Twitter, Facebook, and other social media sites. Here are couple simple reasons I think IT Departments and Executive Leadership should jump in and open up the pipes:

1) Mobile – If employees cannot access the same sites on the hospital computers, they are using mobile devices to access this information. With 3G and soon to come 4G devices, access to information is coming faster and more assessable each day. Whether if you have an iPhone, Blackberry, Android, etc…you can access all the social networking sites, post and update, and even take pictures and post right inside the hospital walls.

2) Internal Brand Ambassadors – Employees are engaging with patients via social media sites like Facebook, Twitter, and even geo-location apps like FourSquare.  They are using their mobile devices and finding other means to connect with patients outside of the firewalls. Building communities is important right now and there is value in allowing those conversations to foster inside the walls of the hospital rather than outside the walls.

3) Patients are Talking –  Patients and making status updates from inside the walls of the hospital. They are using Twitter and Facebook to tell family and friends medical updates of their loved ones. This is a great opportunity to try to engage or see the conversations in real time inside the walls of the hospital.

4) Geo-Location – Patients/Visitors of hospitals are updating with a location inside the walls of the hospital using Foursquare and Gowalla. They are telling the world they have just arrived for a procedure or picking up a loved one, stamping their location, and then describing the experience. There is value in engaging with these conversations.

5) Doctors are using the Internet to gather information – “A recent study by Google, 86% of U.S. physicians said they use the Internet to gather health, medical or prescription drug information. Internet technology allows physicians to also offer their opinions on medicine, or other matters, through blogs (including links to other sources of information) and to consult colleagues by e-mail and through social networking.” – via AMA in February 2010.

Bottomline…the argument is no longer about employee performance, it is whether you want to engage with the patient in real time. I will leave with this quote from the AMA in February 2010 – “Social networking has tripled in the past year, a Nielsen Company survey showed, and physicians have joined the social networking revolution. According to a survey by Medimix International, 34% of physicians use social media.”

Paul Levy, CEO of Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center in Boston, MA gives an example conversation he had with someone inside a hospital concerning allowing Facebook to become available for hospital employees. This is a GREAT!