Importance of Community in Women’s Healthcare
If you spend time on the Internet regularly, chances are you belong to an online community. Facebook, Twitter, Google+, blogs, forums, and websites all have different ways of connecting people.
In the medical field, especially women’s healthcare, Social Strategy1’s online media monitoring provided us a glimpse of how important online community is to women seeking information about healthcare options.
Finding Answers Online
Women are taking to the web to find information and get a better understanding of their healthcare options, especially when it comes to permanent birth control. Instead of consulting a doctor first and scheduling an appointment to discuss their options, women seek out information online from a variety of sources—information that can heavily influence their decisions.
Putting Trust in Communities
The Internet has plenty of medical information from reliable sources, including doctors, medical providers, and healthcare companies. But when it comes to making a decision about permanent contraception, women look to their communities to provide answers. Online listening revealed that much conversation around the subject happens in forums like BabyCenter.com or Womens-Health.com, and other online communities where women share their personal experiences and stories amongst their peers.
A first-hand experience shared in an online community becomes more than just a testimonial or a complaint: other women trust their community members—sometimes more than their physicians—and use these opinions and personal stories to make real decisions for their healthcare needs.
In some ways, this is no different than the old “word of mouth”—people trust the recommendations of friends. But a personal testimonial or complaint posted online can have greater staying-power and even authority in that community, and can become a resource for many more people.
Guiding a Community
Online communities are great to network, but more so social networks provide guidance and resources, which can be vital to the growth of a business. First-hand experiences shared across a community are valuable but, in the case of healthcare, it may not always be medically accurate.
That’s why expert guidance and engagement in online communities are important. The challenge in healthcare is there are many liability and confidentiality issues in diagnosing and sharing patient information by the experts (or physicians).
Have you come across any other legal issues related to social media in the healthcare industry?
If you want to find trends like this in your industry that could impact your business, contact us for additional information, or to schedule a demo, call 877-SS1-DEMO.
Jennifer Muñoz is Director of Operations & Strategy Analyst with Social Strategy1. She contributes blog posts weekly and can be found on Twitter @getaJenny. Want additional strategy insights? Follow us on Twitter at @sstrategy1.