Kim Woodruff is VP of corporate finance and compliance for Pinnacle III. The following question came in response to her column on "10 Critical Social Media Guidelines for Surgery Center Physicians and Staff."
Q: What types of social media should an ambulatory surgery center consider using and what should they each be used for?
Kim Woodruff: One size does not fit all. Before you begin, consider what your organization hopes to accomplish. Social media magnifies whatever is already occurring. If your ASC is suffering from low morale or has benchmark performance below market standards, no amount of social media spin is going to make those issues go away. Your time is better spent dealing with the "real" issues first, then launching your social media campaign.
When you have identified what you hope to accomplish, determine whether or not your goals are realistic. Although many social media venues are free, if someone is coordinating and managing your outreach efforts (internally or externally), you will be paying for their time — a potential drain on your organizational resources. Recognize up front that once your organization starts an outreach effort, it is important to maintain your defined output schedule. If you post something three times a week and unintentionally ramp down to once every three months because your social media efforts led to exponential increases in facility volume, your community is going to be left wondering what happened.
Primarily because communities are already established via free media platforms — Facebook, Twitter and YouTube — you might be led to believe these are the best venues to access initially. From a compliance perspective, however, I advocate exploring the value of LinkedIn and trade association listservs as ways to learn how to safely post and respond to information. I hold memberships in Healthcare Billing Management Association, Health Care Compliance Association and Medical Group Management Association. All three venues have proven to be ones where I can safely interact with professionals within my industry. I am able to expand my knowledge base and contribute to the knowledge base of others.
These types of interactions can assist in creating credibility for you and/or your company — or they can just as easily backfire and accomplish exactly the opposite. It is important to keep in mind that you will not be able to please everybody all the time. Although these venues allow you to experience firsthand what people respond to and what they do not appreciate, even if you post from a place of deep personal conviction, you may unintentionally create an intensely polarizing debate. Once you put it out there, it is truly irretrievable and, even if it only represents a single person's opinion, it can reflect negatively on the organization. Being the risk-averse individual I am, I respond to requests for assistance when I feel I may have something unique to offer — something that will reflect positively on my organization.
If you have been tasked with launching an all-out social media blitz, but are not sure what you are doing, it is advisable to utilize the services of a consultant or agency that can effectively assist you with identifying your needs, formulating your plan and implementing your defined strategy.
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