Just as user generated social media such as blogs and forums have transformed commerce by making findable authentic testimonials about products and services — healthcare is under the same pressure to become more transparent about their claims to quality and value.
As patients reject HMO’s and decide to pay more for PPOs and traditional indemnity insurance, they have increasing choice to bring their illnesses to the providers they trust the most. Trust is built by believing the testimonials of “people like me” and with increasing expressions of individuals in forums and blogs about their interactions with the healthcare system, these testimonials are increasingly found.
Forward thinking leading institutions have noticed and are engaging blogs and forums by tentatively stepping into the social media waters. Expect individual providers to follow these thought leaders as they realize that brand management needs to be focused on the most findable testimonies, and if social media is most findable (compelling content tends to virally rise in search engine rankings) then it follows that even individual providers will understand the need to engage bloggers and forum participants who are talking about them.