The use of social media to improve healthcare quality is the focus of a guide by two Ontario healthy policy think tanks, The Change Foundation and The Health Strategy Innovation Cell. The first of the two-part guide focuses on current practice in the healthcare sector through a scan of the social media environment and field studies of two teaching institutions, Providence Healthcare and the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health (CAMH). The second part will be released in late June 2011 and will focus on these two field partners, and their experience in adopting social media into their organizational practice.
The authors document the general use of social media internationally by healthcare organizations. Hospitals are leading in the sector, particularly in the United States as compared to Canada. Healthcare organizations are using social media for marketing and communications. Growing aspects of use include philanthropy, recruitment, customer service, patient support and knowledge translation.
The authors make the link to quality improvement as social media provides a unique connection to patient experiences. Open-access social media sites, such as Facebook, Twitter and YouTube, provide a means for patients and caregivers to share stories. In turn, healthcare organizations can be active listeners of these conversations to understand patient and caregiver satisfaction and respond in real time.
The possibilities for patient engagement through social media bring a whole set of concerns. Healthcare has been slow to adopt social media due to a lack of accepted best practices, ethical and economic concerns as well as practical questions. The authors address many of these concerns by examining leading practice and providing recommendations for ethical use.
The authors have started an online directory of Canadian healthcare organizations who use social media as well as an e-toolkit which extends the information of the guide (available later in June 2011 at www.innovationcell).
See “Using Social Media to Improve Healthcare Quality – A Guide to Current Practice and Future Promise” June 2011 at www.changefoundation.ca.
For video testimonials by project partners and participants see www.changefoundation.ca.