The Technology Association of Georgia (http://www.tagonline.org) sections on Health and Social co-presented a panel of key stakeholders in the health industry regarding the current and future use of social media to engage with patients. Entitled “Social Media in Health: Connecting, Collecting and Collaborating” it was held at the Centergy Building in Atlanta on May 14, 2015. Their promo for the panel read as follows:
Health consumer behavior is changing and consumers are engaging with social media platforms and tools in widely different ways. The means by which individuals seek, digest, and trust information makes it more critical than ever for health-related organizations to understand the right ways to engage with their audiences. This includes reaching specific population segments, and defending against misinformation and dissatisfied customers.
Four panelists presented their views in a discussion full of insight, lessons learned, social experiments, and an emphasis on “purposeful use” of patient data that is collected and acted upon. All this with a twist of humor sprinkled throughout that kept the conversation lively and interesting. The four panelists included:
- Greg Foster – Co-Founder, Chairman and CEO of BrightWhistle (http://brightwhistle.com)
- A. “Chip” Strosnider, Jr. – Director for Technology and Innovation at Kaiser Permanente (KP) Georgia (http://thrive.kaiserpermanente.org/care-near-georgia)
- Erin Edgerton Norvell – Founder and Principal Strategist of Digital Edge Communications (http://www.digitaledgecommunications.us)
- Rob Zanin – Director, Digital Strategy at WellStar Health System (http://www.wellstar.org)
Although lasting just about an hour, a lot of information was shared. Below I list some of the highlights, but there was much more than I can recap here.
- Social media is being used for a variety of reasons by health organizations including: brand recognition, patient engagement, patient acquisition, patient care management, patient behavior change, preventative care, and issues of public health awareness.
- The main social media platform they all use is Facebook. KP uses Twitter and has found that Pinterest works well of women’s health concerns.
- You need a strategic vision and sufficient resources to maintain the social media channel over time.
- Using social media for preventative care is key as the economic model of healthcare has changed from reimbursement based on service provided to the patient to reimbursement based on patient outcome. For example, if a patient is readmitted within 30 days for the same issue, there is an economic penalty to the health organization.
- The core digital strategy when using social media is personalization of the message for the individual patient.
- KP will experiment with an online forum called “The Doctor ‘s In” where physicians will moderate conversations for patients who suffer form particular illnesses as a way to ensure the quality of the information the patient is receiving and to monitor the issue sand concerns the patients are having.
- KP is also experimenting with geofencing conducting a pilot program in California. The example given was that if a KP member goes to a Church’s Chicken, the geofence will be triggered and the KP member will receive a message on their smartphone suggesting the chicken salad instead of the fried chicken basket.
- Another panelists suggested that sounds great from a preventive perspective (helps lower the patient’s cholesterol, etc.) but did voice a concern of what happens when that information is tied to an increase in insurance premiums?
- One of the panelists brought up a specific request a physician gave him “find me a technology that will change habits.”
- Other technology mentioned was the use of digital patient coaches to push specific information to patients at specific times – avatars that monitor the patient and give “advice” and “guidance.”
- Gamification was brought up as a response to how to incentive people in regards to certain health concerns – like childhood obesity. Budget to spend on the campaign was another.
- HIPPA, security and data privacy are all concerns – and with mobile, more now than ever.
As you can see the conversation was broad and touched on a number of different topics, although wearable technology (like the Fit Bit, etc.) was not brought up. I can easily see some privacy and legal concerns as health care providers look at the wearable technology and other Internet of Things applications and start having them communicate with the health organizations. What unintended consequences will that bring? If so many of our medical decisions are being made by HMO’s today, will they next be made by the technology itself? Where does that leave our own autonomy regarding our health and our bodies? Health tech, e-health, digital health – these are all umbrella concepts attempting to label the intersection of health care and technology. One message I left with is that this is just the tip of the iceberg and we need to keep watching and monitoring where all of this is going.