The application and impact of social media on the healthcare dynamic continues to be a subject of much debate. How important is the use of social media? Can social media initiatives truly change healthcare for the better? Can the right messages delivered in the right format enhance plan performance (and the bottom line)?

These questions and more were recently addressed at the Cognizant Executive Vision Summit, where Charlene Li, principal analyst at Altimeter, a Prophet company, presented health plan executives with a compelling case for adopting a well-thought-out social media strategy.

In her presentation, ‘Leveraging Digital and Social Media to Disrupt Healthcare’, Li highlighted four key messaging drivers:

  • Align around your next-generation patient
  • Set a bold vision that inspires and guides the organization
  • Build an engaged leadership framework
  • Create a patient-centric culture

More and more people are using mobile technology to share their healthcare experiences. This presents both a challenge and an opportunity for health plans. According to Li, “Patient voices in social should serve as the conscience of the organization. It’s all about relationships. Keep in mind how these new technologies can be used to deepen relationships.”

By creating a patient-centric vision that can be disseminated, supported and enhanced by social media, health plans provide focus that can guide every aspect of their operation. This vision also needs a champion. “Disruptive leaders create a groundswell,” said Li. “An engaged leader is someone who uses digital, mobile and social tools strategically to achieve established goals as they relate to leading people and managing organizations.”

Ms. Li noted that “Social media is not Marketing’s job,” as many executives seem to believe. She stressed that leaders can and should personally utilize these media to connect with their communities, their associates and their industry. She cited Aetna CEO, Mark Bertolini as an excellent example of a healthcare leader who is taking advantage of social media to engage his constituents and build stronger relationships across the board.

She also spoke to the components of the Engaged Leader Framework:

  • Listen at Scale – Take at least 15 minutes a day to use your mobile device to ‘listen’ to key people and topics.
  • Share to Shape – Post things that matter to you in your own voice (industry news/insights, company culture, products, personal events/observations).
  • Engage to Transform – Think of a business objective. Identify a story to share that will shape an action or mindset, then share that story via a channel that suits you.

Li concluded her presentation by speaking to the importance of social media in enabling and supporting a patient-centric culture. Changing an organization’s culture is like turning an aircraft carrier – it takes time and effort. Cultural change is accelerated with the support of digital engagement that combines with other forms of personal and professional engagement to build a groundswell of support.

Lawrence Bridge

Lawrence Bridge

Larry Bridge is senior vice president of TriZetto’s Strategy, Marketing and Corporate Development organizations.  He has overall responsibility for the development, messaging... Read more