Imagine: a mother-to-be signs onto her hospital's website where her homepage loads to the pregnancy and child birth micro-site. She's able to read through discussion posts from other expectant mothers, access her medical charts and receive messages from her prenatal doctor. She can personalize her experience to receive relevant articles and tips, calls to action, and news updates.

There is no longer a need to just imagine the scenario described above, that's the reality of the new generation of the social hospital. As patients are becoming more used to the convenience of online information, they are more likely to choose a hospital not only by its services but also by its social functionality. In fact, according to a recent survey conducted by YouGov Healthcare, 57% of patients said that a hospital's social media connections would strongly affect their 


decision to receive treatment at that facility.

It's important to note that a fully social hospital should refer to more than just the creation of a Facebook page, but instead the implementation of a new thriving and self-sustaining online ecosystem that includes patient-centric information architecture, direct access to the hospital’s information systems, and an integrated social support layer.

A select number of elite hospitals have grasped this concept and have begun to create robust, patient-centric hospital sites. PinnacleHealth System in Pennsylvania, The Mayo Clinic in Minnesota, the Cleveland Clinic in Ohio and Massachusetts General are just a few of the hospitals that have begun to embrace the benefits of social interconnectivity.

Micro-site Personalization Example

The hospitals that will continue to thrive in the evolving marketplace understand that their online communities must be personalized and social rather than static and information laden, which is a trap many hospital sites fall into.

Truly high-value sites infuse elements of social networking by incorporating profile pages, secure messaging, discussion boards and rating options throughout the environment. Patients are able to interact with their personal medical records, their doctors, as well as others in their community. All of these elements should be housed within a private online network.

This creates a secure and HIPAA compliant environment and can help to meet meaningful use requirements as well. Moreover, private social interactions solve the privacy issues a lot of health organizations have with Facebook and other open networking sites. These networks also open up a new avenue of secure and private two-way communication.


A shift is occurring, and soon a social hospital will not be classified by its presence on Facebook and Twitter, but by its ability to translate its services and offerings into the online realm. Hospitals that are able to create a personalized and relevant community and position themselves as thought leaders will prevail. The fact is, conversations are going to happen either way, so it's now a matter of "how" to shape the conversation about your hospital rather than "if" to shape the conversation. It seems the industry is witnessing the birth of new breed of hospital websites, the Social Hospital.