Naturally, we are all about the collision of healthcare and social media. So we couldn’t help but pick the brain of this week’s guest contributor, Reed Smith, an interactive healthcare consultant. Reed works closely with hospitals to weave social media strategy into overall marketing communications. Check out the conversation our own Stephen Moegling had with Reed recently on social media and healthcare.
SM: Your blog is called I am Reed Smith. So, tell us: Who is Reed Smith?
RS: You know I get asked that quite a bit! It’s funny, when you work in the space I do people have a hard time understanding how/why hospitals use social media. The next question is how did I end up doing this for a living? I spent several years as a hospital marketing director here in Texas then working for the Texas Hospital Association. I have always loved the web and new technologies, and while working at THA I produced a social media guide for hospitals. Doing this afforded me the opportunity to jump out on my own and now I spend all my time consulting hospitals on the use of social media and new technologies in the areas of communications, patient care, and physician relations. It is a blast and I feel very fortunate that I get to do what I love daily.
SM: What’s #1 thing you think healthcare providers should STOP doing with social media?
RS: Making excuses – I think we have an opportunity to really impact patient care and even access to care. Keeping our heads in the sand and doing the same things the same ways year after year only does a disservice to our institutions. We have a way to radically chance the game… We have the tools at our disposal to connect with consumers (patients, their families, and physicians) and have a meaningful dialogue. Patients are doing this more and more with each other, now hospitals need to get in the game. Of course some early adopters do this better than others but for the most part the industry is still very much behind the curve.
SM: What’s #1 thing you wish healthcare providers should START doing with social media?
RS: Monitor and Measure – I know this is really two things but for so long we have just resided in this space. Which being there and figuring all this out is a big step but it is now more important than ever that we spend time monitoring the existing conversations and measuring our activities. As spending continues to get cut we as marketers need to become diligent about ROI. As Chris Boyer would say financial ROI not friends, fans, and followers. Not that it is bad to keep track of your audience, but connecting our efforts in social media to money is a must. If we don’t I am sure someone in finance will, so do it proactively.
SM: How do you convince the C-suite that social media is a good investment for healthcare?
RS: Honestly, we have to make a business case for social. We have to stop looking at social media as a strategy and start incorporating these social tactics into existing growth strategies. Internal surveys may show that social is a great tool for internal communications. Weigh that against what is spent on printing for internal communications. Use simple tools like Google’s URL builder to track traffic from paid media vs. social media and see what cost savings can be accomplished. Ultimately, like most initiatives, success is driven from the top. I would encourage everyone to have a conversation with their CEO about social and understand the concerns, wants, desires, etc… This will go a long way.
SM: We love your Expert Interview series, but it’s time for you to be in the hot seat. So tell us, what is your favorite new app or device?
RS: My favorite new app is probably Instant Heart Rate by Azumio. Very cool example of how technology meets healthcare.
SM: Alright, time to get real. At Franklin Street, we love music. What one song pumps you up before the big presentation?
RS: That is great question… Right now I would probably say: “Say it Ain’t So” by Weezer