In This Report

THE EVOLVING BUSINESS CASE FOR SOCIAL MEDIA IN HEALTHCARE addresses the impact of social media in the healthcare industry—and the solutions and companies that are shaping the sector. 

Health plans and healthcare providers are entering a growth and transformation stage regarding how they communicate with consumers and each other.  To survive and thrive in a post-reform world, these organizations recognize that they must engage consumers where, when and how they choose, and social media is becoming an important communication channels.  The rapid adoption and wide usage of social media has been extraordinary.  According to the Pew Internet and American Life research conducted in 2011, the usage of social media increased from 5% of all adults to more than 50% in 2011.  Today, Facebook has more than 800 million active users worldwide, and Twitter, LinkedIn, YouTube, Google+ and Pinterest are growing fast.  Wikis, forums and discussion boards, blogs and peer-to-peer social/professional networks are all continuing to expand their usage and influence.

Consumer-focused industries, such as retail, hospitality and consumer goods, have developed and deployed social approaches to engaging and maintaining relationships with their customers.  Meanwhile, despite a few early success stories and case studies, the healthcare industry has been comparatively apprehensive.  Given the increased adoption of technology across the healthcare system, providers, payors, and life sciences companies have much to gain from the proliferation and effective use of social media.  One reason is that they are now recognizing that “like” it or not, consumers can and are sharing opinions and information about their conditions, care providers, drugs, clinics, hospitals, treatments, and insurance companies more broadly than ever before.  Another is that social media is enabling the growth of health-oriented, online  “communities of interest” that have become highly trusted resources for knowledge and support.

While the explosive growth of social media has been remarkable, many healthcare organizations are grappling with how to leverage it for real business benefit.  Early adopters are actually beginning to incorporate social media into their core business strategies, while others are still simply looking at it as another technology trend to be addressed and a new communications channel to be utilized. 

Social media is not about page views, eyeballs or clicks.  It is a new platform that radically changes the nature of business relationships in every economy and industry – and healthcare is no exception.