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Hospitals use social media

social media logosSocial networking tools are becoming increasingly popular resources for hospitals, both in the United States and abroad.

Edward Bennett, director of web strategy at the University of Maryland Medical System, has compiled a list of U.S. hospitals that use social networking tools. These tools include YouTube, Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Four Square, and blogs. His list includes 906 hospitals total that collectively utilize 3,087 social networking sites. Bennett asserts that hospitals can use social media in a variety of ways such as for customer service, community outreach, patient education, public relations, and crisis communications.

But U.S. hospitals are not alone in their love for Facebook and Twitter- TEDx recently reported the growth in use of social networking sites by European hospitals. And the Mayo Clinic’s Center for Social Media is making sure that social media tools applied effectively in order to improve health globally. The Mayo Clinic’s social media philosophy is:

Mayo Clinic believes individuals have the right and responsibility to advocate for their own health, and that it is our responsibility to help them use social media tools to get the best information, connect with providers and with each other, and inspire healthy choices. We intend to lead the health care community in applying these revolutionary tools to spread knowledge and encourage collaboration among providers, improving health care quality everywhere.

From what you have seen of how hospitals use social networking tools, does the Mayo Clinic’s philosophy generally hold true? Does social media foster personal education, responsibility, and advocacy? Are there ethical concerns with how hospitals use social media?