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Healthcare PR: Hospitals Leading the Way in Social Media

My old hometown newspaper, the Rochester (Minn.) Post-Bulletin, covers happenings at Mayo Clinic with regularity. (Absolutely everyone called it "the Clinic" when I was growing up, but since I’m in communications I’ll try to respect the fact that they’ve dropped the "the" and mean it about the "Mayo" part.)

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An article in the paper this week, "Mayo Clinic Looks Toward the Future," describes how things went last year for the hospital, "a $7 billion nonprofit company that employs more than 32,000 people in Rochester." Sounds like things were a bit rough, but that Mayo, which also has a huge presence in Arizona and Florida, finished the year in good shape.

Looking ahead, to grow, "Mayo plans to use everything from social media and ‘telemedicine’ to remote clinic locations [potentially outside of the U.S.] to accomplish that goal."

Mayo is already, as just about everyone in healthcare PR knows, phenomenally active and I believe creative in its use of social media. (For a start, check out the Sharing Mayo Clinic blog.) I’ll be very interested to see what Mayo’s got up its sleeve in 2010 when it comes to using social media to reach patients and consumers, both in the U.S. and abroad.

Much has been made among healthcare marketers of how hamstrung pharmaceutical and medical device companies are, or perceive themselves to be, in their use of social media in the absence of FDA guidance. Hospitals, however, have jumped right in.

To keep current on this topic, check out the Found In Cache blog. It’s full of charts and useful resources (e.g., "Over 1,000 Hospital Social Media Sites") on use of social media by hospitals.

You may want to also read HealthLeadersMedia’s late January article "Few Hospitals Use Social Media Effectively, Says Study." It says that only 12.5% of respondents to a survey–hospital marketers–had succeeded in attracting new patients using social media.

With social media use on the rise–consider that the fastest growing demographic on Facebook is women over the age of 55–maybe hospitals will see greater returns on their use of social media in 2010.

Photo credit: Visit this page for information on this photo of the Mayo building. This photo is covered by an open source license.

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Laura Kempke

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