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Healthcare companies still don’t “Get” Social Media

We came across a great article in Social Media Today, by Steve Olenski, looking at a PWC Report on the state of social media in the healthcare industry in the US. The report opens with:

“Social media is changing the nature of healthcare interaction, and health organizations that ignore this virtual environment may be missing opportunities to engage consumers.”

The report examines social engagement from the consumer’s point of view, however, the core issue is that the industry is not getting involved in conversations already existing in the social sphere.

“I realize the hospitals, pharma companies and health insurers of the world are very reticent to engage via social media for fear of all the rules and regulations that govern their every move but… at the very least you can engage people at a high level, yes?”

How does New Zealand stack up?

Steve has a great point, and this is something that can be addressed in the New Zealand healthcare industry as well. Whilst patient privacy must remain paramount, having an online community that includes both medical professionals and consumers is a step towards better engagement – breaking down the barriers of communication between “them” and “us”.

According to the report, in the US market:

“One-third of consumers now use social media sites such as Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and online forums for health-related matters, including seeking medical information, tracking and sharing symptoms, and broadcasting how they feel about doctors, drugs, treatments, medical devices and health plans.”

We added our own comment to the original blog post:

The challenge for organisations providing healthcare is to decide whether to enable healthcare professionals to listen into these channels as well as marketing and customer services teams.

LifetimeHealthDiary.com is creating a patient-centred community care record so that people living with chronic disease in their homes can collate and share health information and wellbeing with their care team and family.  We are finding that insurers like this for two reasons

  1. they can quickly assess new applicants for pre-existing conditions by looking at their pharmacy dispensing data
  2. they can cut response times to trigger events by automating alerts based on critical readings (blood pressure, blood sugar etc) and so save ER admissions and anticipate problems before they become critical, thus saving money.

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