The Over-promising of Healthcare Social Media

Healthcare has been late to using social media. It appears, on the surface at least, that the industry is finally catching-up.

Conferences on Healthcare Social Media are popping up. A Healthcare hashtag is born every minute. Experts, gurus, and consultants are everywhere now.

So too is the overpromissing.

Healthcare Communicators and Marketers are being sold these promises.

Consumers are being sold these promises.

Healthcare providers are being sold these promises.

What are these promises?

Increased ROI! Improved outcomes! Better provider-patient relations!

Yes, social and digital technologies can move these dials.

No, they don’t solve the fundamental problems that marketing, clinical challenges, HIT conundrums, and other concerns involved in Healthcare encounter every day.

There’s an assertion that is made on almost every Twitter chat, HCSM conference, and blog that’s been blindly ripped-off from the early days of social media ‘wisdom’: “social media is about people!”

It is? Really?

Well then, if social media is so much about people, why are we talking about social media?

Do you see the fallacy of cloudy rhetoric here?

Let’s not get carried away by platitudes and the over-promising of what are ephemeral software.

Twitter may be cool and all. And it may have its promises.

But let’s be careful about the dopaminergic effects of these trinkets on our minds – and on our perceptions of their true promises on their impacts on Healthcare.

For you see, the focus of my words here is this: as long as we dwell on the over-promises and the teenage fascination concerning these technologies, then the more we overlook whatever potential they have to improve patient care, medical and nursing education, information flows, and healthcare technological development.

I can’t say that what you’re seeing on Twitter and hearing at conferences is all Snake Oil.

Then again, get-rich schemes come in all styles.

Indeed, health is a social process – absolutely, from the cellular networks of our bodies to the hands we hold at childbirths and funerals.

Social software? Try to be serious: They’re just on/off switches.

And they’re aren’t necessarily all that good for your health.

Phil Baumann

3 Replies to “The Over-promising of Healthcare Social Media”

  1. I came to this post via Dan Dunlop’s ‘HealthCare Social Media Review #11.’ A decent, if not usual suspect roundup of social media voices.

    Thankfully it directed my attention to your post, brother Phil. Yes, Twitter use to be cool, engaging, a real sene of community, enlightenment, even addictive (some of us dubbed it the equivalent of the matrix). Now with the exception of certain conferences, and select tweetchats you can still find that authentic sense of community, yet for the most part Twitter has become just another broadcast medium for ‘look at me’ narcissism, and cover the platforms ‘push marketing’.

    The overwhelming use of Twitter by marketeers untethered to any principles other than money, the flooding of the medium by clueless ‘me too’ PR companies presenting themselves as social media experts, the litany of anecdotal if not unproven claims of ‘mhealth’, digital health,, etc., is perhaps at the height of hype on the Gartner scale?
    Good grief Charlie Brown!

    If Twitter or any other interactive digital media technology is not advancing the triple aim. starving marginal or valueless shake and bake business models (witness the latest HCA fraud), enabling accountable care, or otherwise re-engineering of our house of cards and imploding healthcare borg, then it is a colossal waste of time.

    How’s that for [unrecognized] disruptive thinking?
    I’ve said over and over, if you are not advancing the triple aim, then you are taking up too much bandwidth. To date, a voice in the woods. Then again, social media thought leaders have remained rather silent during the run up to the Affordable Care Act, and now again, as we reconsider our option in the November elections.
    Weak tied, sappy corporate happy talk, doesn’t cut it in my book. Stand for something.

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