I come from a family of doctors. My father was a doctor, my brother is a doctor, and my brother-in-law is a doctor. I know, I know. What happened to me, you might ask? Well, anyone can learn how to save lives; it’s all in the medical textbooks. But to learn how to market products, well that is both an art and a science. SNAP!!! (me being hip)
But the two worlds are converging. While I doubt we will hear stories about marketing people saving lives, marketers are saving hospitals. As the world of medicine continues to be more competitive, hospitals are engaging in a number of marketing initiatives to differentiate themselves from their competition.
While I’m all for marketing, and I’m a huge believer in social media, I did read a somewhat troubling article in the NY Times on May 24. It seems that many hospitals are utilizing social media techniques to raise the awareness of their brand in the eyes of prospective patients. One of the examples discusses how hospitals are bringing video equipment into the operating room, and uploading videos of brain surgeries, heart surgeries, etc. for the world to view.
Okay, I guess I can live with that (pun intended), as long as the patient has provided permission. But further in the article, examples are provided illustrating how surgeons are incorporating Twitter to offer play-by-play of their surgical progress.
I’m not sure I would want this if I’m a patient. The fact is, as an avid Twitterer, sometimes I personally find it hard to figure out how to condense my tweets down to 140 characters. I really have to concentrate on what words and symbols I will use to properly convey my message due to the character limitations. Do we really want surgeons concentrating on condensing their message, instead of focusing on the surgery itself? I can hear the conversation now.
Nurse: Doctor, it looks like we have a bleeder in the right ventricle, and a thrombosis is forming in the patient’s lower left leg.
Doctor: Whoa, whoa, whoa. Which is it that is the real problem? The bleeding or the thrombosis? I only have 140 characters.
Nurse: Doctor, look at the amount of blood that is pumping into the chest cavity. Aren’t you concerned?
Doctor: “Gr8t amount of blood in patient cavity. U can’t believe the mess. Going in” Okay, sorry, had to tweet that before I fixed it. Suture!
(4 hours later) (after final closing of the incision)
Nurse: Doctor, you did an unbelievable job, even though you were tweeting while performing surgery. You should be proud of yourself. Aren’t you going to tweet about how you saved the patient?
Doctor: Ummm, have you seen my Blackberry? I had placed it on the patient’s stomach when we started to close.
Nope, I don’t think Tweeting in the O.R. is the right marketing message to send to prospective patients looking for great health care.