Connecting the Dots Between S2MU and #HCSM

Posted on September 5, 2013 I Written By

As Social Marketing Director at Billian, Jennifer Dennard is responsible for the continuing development and implementation of the company's social media strategies for Billian's HealthDATA and Porter Research. She is a regular contributor to a number of healthcare blogs and currently manages social marketing channels for the Health IT Leadership Summit and Technology Association of Georgia’s Health Society. You can find her on Twitter @JennDennard.

I gave myself a pat on the back last week for attending Friday’s #HITsm chat. Moderator Brian Ahier (@ahier) and the usual suspects did a great job of zeroing in on the positives and negatives of what not only a delay to Stage 2 of Meaningful Use could look like, but what modifications to the requirements could look like as well.

As I mentioned during the chat, I feel that delaying it further would only delay the ultimate benefits we are all hoping healthcare IT like EMRs will bring to patient care. It will also add copious amounts of fuel to the already burning fire of provider discontent. Modification, however, might actually ease the burden on both providers and vendors. I’ll defer to the chat commentary, which you can view via the transcript.

If a recent CMS presentation on providers likely to incur Meaningful Use penalties is any indication, modifications might just let them breathe a small sigh of relief and focus a bit more on their patients, rather than hurriedly struggling to meet IT deadlines with ill-fitting or non-certified products.

Concurrently with all of this Stage 2 coverage has been a rise in commentary on providers’ use of social media. I have to assume that physicians and hospitals are becoming more attuned to the benefits of social networking in light of the industry’s push towards more patient engagement. While hospital social media strategies may be considered an offshoot of engagement initiatives tied to Stage 2, I have a feeling providers are beginning to realize such strategies are a valuable means of marketing and education outreach in their own right.

It would be interesting to see if there is a correlation between the types of doctors and hospitals CMS has identified as being most likely to incur Meaningful Use penalties and the social networking activity of that same group. I’d venture to say that providers at penalty risk don’t have social strategies in place, and face more systemic problems related to lower reimbursements, fewer resources, not enough qualified IT staff available, too many patients and not enough physicians, etc. It’s also probably safe to assume that providers that do have a social networking strategy have more resources, and have been able to devote those resources to preparation for Meaningful Use well before their less fortunate colleagues.

What do you think? Feel free to play devil’s advocate by leaving a comment below.