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Among the many challenges affected by the coronavirus pandemic, in-person contact in healthcare is one of the most disruptive.
Networking in the time of COVID-19
Among the many challenges affected by the coronavirus pandemic, in-person contact in healthcare is one of the most disruptive. Telemedicine and telehealth have literally answered the call for communications between medical professionals and patients. But what about the vital need for peer-to-peer connectivity between healthcare providers (HCPs)? Research has shown that HCPs highly prefer to get their colleagues’ perspectives as one of the top means of staying informed and engaged. The solution to this challenge can be found in online communities that can be tailored to meet the specific needs of an organization.
Many online healthcare communities operate like a combination of Facebook—in that you decide with whom to interact—and LinkedIn, with its focus on a specific kind of content where members post articles, exchange viewpoints, and help to establish key thought leaders in their respective fields. Unlike live conferences and symposia, HCP social communities can operate on demand. They can provide members with the chance to share their opinions and perspectives; dialogue with thought leaders and colleagues; and/or create content with collaborators. Online community platforms may also provide options such as display advertisements or job postings as a means to generate revenue for the organization. Some community platforms also offer additional widgets such as calendars, polling, and group announcements as other options for engaging members.
Optimize the way engagement gets done
What many organizations find pleasantly surprising is that building and managing a community can be efficient and affordable. Content can be updated regularly, and some community providers offer a service to link directly with the organization’s homepage or main website. Customization can be a key differentiator when assessing community platform providers. Many offer a generic, one-size-fits-all platform, which lacks rich feature sets tailored for your community, endless subgroups, advanced file sharing, and multiple privacy settings. Other features such as panel discussion, journal club, morning report, and grand rounds features can replace or be added to live events with simple digital solutions. Automated invitations and notifications can increase engagement and awareness of your audience and put less burden on a community manager. You can also promote career advancement opportunities, with advanced jobs boards, mentor matching, and private messaging when members seek more discretion about their communications. With all of these advantages, it’s no wonder why communities are a vital resource to attract and maintain talent.
Case in point
A national community healthcare provider was adding new practices to expand their organization. Dispersed geographies and independent thinking challenged the new practices to successfully function in unison. Medstro solved the client’s dilemma by customizing a platform for bringing together new and existing clinicians for information-sharing, education, networking, and mentoring opportunities. As part of the feature set, discussion boards/grand rounds presented patient cases to gain feedback. Further, the newsfeed feature promoted their clinicians’ articles and speaking engagements and company updates with the members of the community. After less than a year, they could not be more pleased with the level of engagement and activation they get from the platform.
Getting it right, right from the start
Like any tactical initiative, the concept is only as good as the developer can make it. Here are some questions to ask that will ensure you’re getting the right partner.
While COVID-19 has forced our industry to rethink how our HCPs and patients can engage, communities are not only the answer now, but will transform the way your members interact with you and each other going forward. So, reach out now to keep the conversation going, and chart a bold new course for your brand.
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