IT Healthcare Vendors: Don’t Forget Social Media’s Role in Healthcare Reform

Top-20-EMR-Software-Solutions-large (1) (2)
Top-20-EMR-Software-Solutions-large (1) (2)

Hospitals and health practices today are governed by a number of standards and regulations, including the HITECH Act,  that encourage the adoption and meaningful use of electronic health systems with an investment in health information technology.

Today, IT is enabling healthcare facilities to not only meet these regulatory needs but at the same time improve all practice areas, from patient management to revenue, with solutions such as electronic medical records (EMRs). EMRs streamline the patient care workflow by providing physicians safer and quicker access to important medical information and can benefit all health systems, from large hospitals to single practitioners. Specialty software companies, such as Massachusetts-based athenahealth, focus solely on healthcare-related business services such as EMRs. These companies were quick to recognize that their tools can provide safe and cost-effective healthcare solutions, and athenahealth and some of its competitors now lead the industry in product innovation.

Recently, online enterprise software directory Capterra published an insightful view into the most popular EMR software providers (see graphic, right). The infographic’s index is compelling because it ranks companies not only by revenue but also by digital data, aggregating results for each of the vendors based on Alexa rankings, Compete traffic and Google searches. The social media component of Capterra’s infographic articulates several important takeaways about the healthcare industry; social media has huge potential in healthcare IT and, as such, the onus is on the individual software vendor to use social platforms to set themselves apart from competitors. Examination of various social platforms, such as Facebook likes, Klout score and LinkedIn company followers, also contributed to the popularity rankings and present opportunities to think critically about how these vendors should leverage social media for their content strategy.

Given that the healthcare industry is limited by government mandates that restrict creativity in product development, the key to a company effectively broadcasting its unique corporate message revolves around intelligence in storytelling, and targeted content is the golden ticket to success. As we’ve learned through our work with client Network Health, it’s important to live in the ecosystem that caters to the needs of customers. As Network Health’s partner, we create compelling storylines that reach the health insurance provider’s end users – low- and moderate-income residents in Massachusetts.

We believe that a similar approach has and will continue to achieve success for health IT companies vying for the top spot in the industry. When comparing vendors that made the leaders’ list in social media, such as GE Healthcare and Practice Fusion, it is important to recognize that these companies follow different content strategies  based on their target audience. While GE Healthcare caters predominantly to hospitals and large practices, the company’s Twitter and blog content has a global perspective. Conversely, Practice Fusion caters to medium-size practices and individual practitioners and does an excellent job at engaging with its localized audiences.

The opportunities for health IT companies to leverage social media for business development are endless, yet there is always room for improvement. One immediate fix could involve inserting the service providers into conversations around this week’s Supreme Court hearings. With so many uncertainties within healthcare reform, consumer are undoubtedly wondering what the outcome will be for them.  Moments like these are critical communication-inflection points, and social media tools are the ideal platforms for information exchange between the athenahealths and allscripts and their current and future customers. For what it’s worth, just as social media continues to be an avenue for quick and secure communication, we expect that IT innovations will continue and will weather the storm of reform. What do you think?

Sarah Hurley is a consultant at Greenough. Follow her on Twitter @Sarah_Hu