THE FEED: What Does Social Media Have To Do With Me?

The Feed was my regular column for employees of the Dartmouth-Hitchcock health system about how the synthesis of health care and social media can influence all of us—employees, patients and the community—for the better.

so•cial–me•di•a (n.)1. Participatory communities whose users create and share information, ideas and feedback. 2. Driven by the millions who use it, not the few media moguls who used to control creative content. 3. The way of the future, like it or not. (Sorry, Mom.)

Last week, I talked about how social media gives us an unprecedented opportunity to understand the lives and needs of our patients as we never have before. All we need to do is cock a virtual ear to the public conversations already going on all around us—and listen. When we do, of course, we hear them talking to us. And then we can have a conversation.

That's what we've done in a number of ways at Dartmouth-Hitchcock.

Right now, we have four main social media spaces.



  • Facebook is a forum where we encourage all our audiences to lead the conversation, and start new ones.

  • Twitter is a news-oriented stream for press releases, breaking updates and emergency communications.

  • YouTube covers events, patient stories, instructional videos, interviews and tours (It also brings in quite a lot of patients seeking medical advice, interestingly enough).

  • Flickr, our newest channel, houses photo galleries.

The social media landscape is always shifting (remember when MySpace was hot?). We’re always evaluating new forums with which to engage the community. I’ve been experimenting with Foursquare and Pinterest, and would love your input about any of these channels—or others.

Our patients, their friends and families, our employees, and the community at large all use social media in different ways with different goals. By choosing carefully where to engage them, we can speak with them where they are instead of waiting for them to come to us. Everyone's really busy; we have the chance to help make life a little easier in whatever way we can.

We're also members of the Mayo Clinic Social Media Network, a fantastically smart and compassionate group of people from around the nation. They represent everything from large, established groups like Kaiser Permanente to small one-doctor practices just getting started in social media—and they've been indescribably helpful to us. I'll write more about them in an upcoming installment.

What does this have to do with me? I already have a job.

You do. You also have a story. You probably have 100. It doesn’t matter what you do at Dartmouth-Hitchcock, and it doesn’t matter how unimportant you may think these stories are.

They’re not unimportant. Your experiences, and your contribution to our community, contain so many opportunities to show how what you do makes this a better place for all of us, and you deserve recognition.

YEAH, I do.

Cool. Here's what I want to know.

  • What do you wish the community knew about us, or about your line of work?

  • Why do you use social media, if you do? In particular, which ones? What do you like about them?

  • How can we better reach patients and their families? You don’t have to be an expert to have an opinion, and I guarantee you know a thing or two about them that I don’t.

Lastly, browse our social media channels and get engaged. (Don’t forget to review our social media policy. It’s a fun video!)

Susanna French, Dartmouth-Hitchcock's social media specialist, thinks social media can do some good in the world. She met her fiancé in a virtual space, and he's okay.