HIMSS 2017: Four pillars of social media governance

In healthcare, social media is a much more serious affair than a few tweets and Instagram posts. The governance of such activity in healthcare is crucial in the protection of patient data and compliance with HIPAA. Nelly Jacobo, director of digital strategy at Cedars-Sinai, and Melody Smith Jones, manager of Connected Health at Perficient, discussed the four pillars of social media governance at HIMSS 2017.

Social media has the potential to improve communication, patient education and outcomes. But the industry demands a strict governance of social media because of associated risks to hinder patient care and expose data. This session outlined how to implement a social media governance program at any healthcare organization, highlighting its benefits to patients and physicians.

Priority, the first pillar of governance, encompasses the audience being targeted. Reaching a broad audience is one of the major strengths of social media, but it does not come easily.

“We looked at what we are saying today and noticed we were the guy at the party who talks about himself. Social media should be a conversation and not a statement,” said Jacobo. “We conducted both benchmark and exemplar analysis, looking at social media from within and outside of healthcare, to identify exactly what works in the social media space when communicating with followers.”

Using the engagement platform HYP3R, Jocobo and the Cedars-Sini team collected statistics of exactly what patients and providers were saying. From maternity posts to staff birthday cake pictures, the team noticed a lack of engagement with followers. The acknowledgement of followers posts makes communication easier while also improving the patient-provider relationship.

People, the second pillar of governance, includes those behind the scenes. The roll of employee ambassadors is a major asset in ensuring healthcare organizations have the right steering committee, of both internal stakeholders and members of the target market. Such a groups allows for a more complete understanding of what is expected from a social media audience.

Starting at the top of the ladder, executives need to not only be endorsing social media programs. They have to have their own voice. Successful and strong social media trickles down into key stakeholders in the organization. This approach produces levels to the social media's complexity and improves its ability to reach a broad audience.

Policy, the third pillar of governance, often comes under fire for HIPAA compliance and patient privacy. But these barriers melt away when employees are educated in what to post. By examining companies that have successful polices, Jocobo and Smith Jones encourage providers to engage in open dialogue.

Process, the fourth pillar of governance, encompasses each step of the implementation process—from analyzing strengths and weaknesses of each social media platform to tracking progress. Developing processes is a way to provide users with step-by-step instructions on handling unique situations.

Bad tweets can happen in the blink of an eye, from an early release of information to a hack. But these breaches can be addressed by planning ahead. Companies need to inform followers exactly what happened and what actions are being taken.