Last week Ryan Squire from the Ohio State University Medical Center asked me how doctors can be supported in their social participation. What can a hospital do to facilitate and support their doctor’s involvement? Or, how can hospitals or health organizations enlist doctors as conversation agents?
This is an important question.
Doctors are, after all, important for health messaging. The problem is this: we have to want to do it. All of this social stuff requires a touch of passion and a mindset that seeks to create, share, and distribute. But physicians are often less apt to be so open and to expose themselves and their thinking.
A lot of this is generational. Some of it is comfort with exposure. I do see the tide turning, however. Quarter to quarter I’m seeing more MDs, independent of their generation, stepping out of the spectator role and sharing on Twitter. Microsharing for docs may be the first step to the generation of core content.
So as we make this transition is there anything that hospitals can do to facilitate their physician’s socialization either? I’m not sure there’s a good answer but here are a couple of thoughts:
Show them what you have in mind. Your medical staff may have no idea what’s really happening in the world of social health and medical marketing. A little education may go a long way. Ask for 15 minutes at your next quarterly medical staff meeting to let them know what you have in mind as far as your hospital’s strategy. Offer a little education about what social can do for their hospital and their relationship with their patients. Make yourself available as something of a resource.
Show them what others have done. Sometimes seeing what other physicians have done is enough to motivate the curious into action. Profile doctors like Seattle Children’s Wendy Swanson or MD Anderson Cancer Center’s Anas Younes. Show what the Mayo Clinic has done to promote its doctors and programs. These are powerful motivators for those with a hidden inclination to share. Appeal to the ego. Some people want their 15 minutes of fame. The idea of local celebrity as well as the added benefit of visibility for their practice or their academic division may create the value proposition that draws them in. Make the pitch.
Identify conversation agents. You may find that there are physicians on your medical staff already involved in the conversation. Find them and reach out to them. They understand the landscape. Other good candidates may be physicians who have helped with traditional mainstream messaging for your institution. If they’re comfortable writing or enjoy being in front of a camera, the concept of sharing and creating content will be less foreign.
Make it easy. Physicians are busy and are appropriately wary of over commitment. For hospital initiatives make involvement as easy as possible by making commitments short-term or time-limited. This might also offer a honeymoon period for each party to see how things work.
Ask directly. If you do get that opportunity to address your medical staff, make a direct appeal for involvement either on their own or on behalf of the hospital. You may be surprised at the response and your champion may come forward or begin to take steps to become involved on their own.
Both medical marketers and physicians alike are learning the ropes here. I’d be interested in hearing from hospital marketers who have been successful in generating involvement by their medical staff, either on the hospital’s behalf for their practices.