Using health IT, social media to build community care

Date: 05.15.2013 | Zach Urbina">Zach Urbina

Healthcare marketing is more than the concept of problem resolution in one’s health. It’s happening with the many nuances of accountability of care at the levels of individual and population health. Even the depersonalized aspects of data gathering with mobile health technology (mHealth) have contributed to a more continuous conversation between patient and clinical staff. It is in this convergence of proactive patient care and a clearly defined culture of care where the clinic can differentiate itself within community of healthcare and emerge through stories in healthcare.

It’s a community of healthcare that may not be defined by zip codes or physical street addresses but rather by people both in the clinic and served by the clinic. The old-fashioned approach of advertising the clinic — as a place to go when someone has a certain type of health problem to work with smart people and state-of-the-art medical technology — is all too common and the epitome of fragmented healthcare. It’s a culture where advertising messages refer to the technology on site, the architecture of the new facility, or the highly-qualified medical staff surrounding the patient with care while in that facility.

What this culture does not include is the interest in interacting with people on a continuum. It is this interaction that represents both an obstacle and an opportunity for the entire clinic of any size in any community. The obstacle is the willingness of the clinic’s leadership to be social. It’s more than just participating in social media because that’s where the patients are but first just being willing to be social regardless of the context. It’s a challenge for some physicians even in terms of pausing to accept gratitude from a patient for a great outcome. In other cases, it represents the analogy where the clinic’s culture of care resembles the local auto repair shop, “If it’s broke, we can fix it.” It is a common theme among clinic staff in their interactions with patients, even though they know that there is more to this conversation.
The opportunity is to define the culture of care that’s beyond problem resolution into one of community involvement. It’s more than the knowledge and credentials required to give medical advice. What this community of healthcare can represent is a culture where a fully engaged staff and patients have the confidence to interact in ways that are personal and appropriate with each other. So while someone in reception may not be able to give clinical advice, they can be trained by their clinical colleagues to be active listeners and observers of patients who arrive in the clinic or engage the clinic in other ways.
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