Thursday, January 13, 2011

Social Media in Hospice and Palliative Care

The internet has changed everything that we do both professionally and personally. With the emergence of social media sites such as Facebook, Twitter, Linked In, and MySpace opportunities have been created to engage different social groups and individuals who are looking for information about end of life care. Our attention is being constantly drawn to forums, emails, webinars and videos online for useful information to guide us.

While these discussions may be difficult in an online forum, the value is great and the reach to many populations is significant. Healthcare practitioners in hospice and palliative care must engage readers on the net and provide support and guidance in ways that are innovative and forward thinking.

Getting Started with Social Media Tips

  • Using social media to set yourself apart as an expert in hospice and palliative care is a great idea. Organizations and individuals may optimize presence as hospice and palliative care institutions, leaders in the community, using individual staff members and as a source of education are just a few ways to optimize your presence online. Being a credible resource starts with your reputation, the content of your online activity, accuracy of the information and your persistent repeated presence providing trustworthy information.
  • Added services and monitoring can further offer advantage when feedback, advice, access to resources and services can be provided in addition to online presence. This ultimately provides portals of access to care on a local level for organizations who interact well with their local community.
  • Opportunities to build networks, provide ongoing information and support, and build a close relationship with followers and "fans" already exist. Hospice and Palliative care organizations can provide information about hospice care and services available, support groups, fundraising activities, volunteer opportunities, and activities pertaining to supporting the community in end of life care.
  • How you present yourself online is your brand and this environment affords you the opportunity to develop a consumer focused brand appeal in keeping with your end of life care missions and philosophy. You brand differentiates you from other organizations in your community and may be the reason why consumers may choose to access care at your organization over other competitors. Your presentation, and how you engage the online community is paramount to ensuring your reputation is as you want it to be.
  • Joining social networks that are relevant to your area of expertise and manner in which you want to present yourself, your organization and your clinical experts online will ensure your efforts online meet your expectations.
  • Participating on online forums adds your voice to the discussion and alerts other participants to your existence. Often, participants will read more about the others who are participating when the comments and additions to the discussion are engaging.
  • Creating a blog to showcase your opinions, your organization and staff, subjects of interest, community education activities and end of life issues is of great value. This engages readers and allows them to provide feedback.

Social Media sites continue to emerge at an alarming rate to address the online needs of various communities. Staying abreast of these social sites and engaging the online community in discussion creates wonderful community engagement forums.

About Practitioner Solutions: Practitioner Solutions is a hospice consulting company led by Niamh van Meines a graduate of Columbia University's Nurse Practitioner Program. Practitioner Solutions is committed to helping clinicians, practitioners and organizations in achieving a specialist level of end of life care using innovative solutions.

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