Attention, medical meeting planners: your attendees are about to open the doors of their operating rooms to the outside world in an unexpected way.
In a recent Business 2 Community article, Jonathan Catley highlights that some healthcare organizations are using online tools to engage prospective patients. Consider Tennessee-based Memorial Health Care System’s decision to post a webcast of an open-heart surgery on a 72-year-old patient online, or take a look at the Florida-based Arnold Palmer Hospital for Children Twitter feed, which includes updates of a surgical procedure on a three-year-old.
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These examples may seem surprising for a field built on the sensitivity of the doctor-patient relationship. However, it’s clear that healthcare professionals are beginning to recognize that an online presence is crucial to their futures. Patients have choices of where to turn for their critical care, and hospitals are hoping that Twitter, Instagram and Facebook might be the channels that can help separate them from their competition.
What This Means for Your Next Meeting
This shift toward social media marketing in the healthcare sector represents an opportunity at every medical meeting. As those in charge of education review proposals for programming, now is the time to offer courses that help doctors, nurses and hospital administrators understand how to navigate the challenges of social media.
I’m not just talking about the usual challenges that marketers encounter such as when to post, how often to post and what kind of tone to use in text. There are much bigger questions that hospital marketing teams will need to answer. Who’s going to ask that patient or that patient’s family for permission to post the procedure? What kind of liability issues does this present in the event that something goes wrong in the procedure?
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These questions represent some big obstacles, but Catley points to the positive potential impacts of social media marketing.
“It’s likely that, in the future, hospitals and doctors will use such transparency to build credibility and establish a reputation for doing excellent work,” he writes.
That sounds like a promising future. However, in order to get there, it’s up to medical meeting planners to add social media to their slates of educational offerings to ensure these channels are used effectively and appropriately.
As the Sunshine Act takes hold, there are plenty of other uncertainties about the future of medicine and the future of medical meetings, too. Click here for a new package of education from PCMA designed specifically for medical meeting planners.