Four Steps to the Next Step in Your Social Media Evolution

Gienna Shaw, for HealthLeaders Media , May 4, 2010

They pointed out, for example, that the system should have administrative powers over all Facebook pages in case an employee who administers a page is fired. You don't want them walking away with the keys to the page, as it were.

It also helps to have an evangelical chief technology officer, as is the case at Texas Health Resources, said Charlie Dierker, consumer portal manager for the 13-hospital system in Dallas-Fort Worth. In-house enthusiasm can go a long way. But he also recommends bringing in outside help to woo holdouts and convince them that "this is where the train's heading."

Keep it simple
"When you write your policy, realize … that it's going to get outdated really quickly," said Morrison. "It's a very fluid process," McCahill added. That's a good reason to keep the policy document simple—the panelists agreed that a one-page policy is best. It's hard to avoid jargon, legalese, and corporate speak. But you can help keep it short by linking to existing policies and regulations instead of trying to cover everything in the policy.

Trust your employees
Texas Health Resources not only allows all employees access to social media sites from work but also encourages them to participate in social media. Even so, the organization also maintains administrative control over official sites. For example, all Facebook pages must be created with a system e-mail and although employees and clinicians can serve as administrators for Facebook pages, someone in the PR department must also have administrative access to every page.

Still, the best policy is one that is based on common sense and "treats everyone like adults," Dierker said. Texas Health Resources' policy reaffirms its trust in its employees, he said. (And, one might add, doesn't pretend that blocking social media sites means everyone will magically stop using them.)

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