Briefing: How Columbus hospitals use social media

Julie Bhusal Sharma

Mindset Digital and the Ohio Hospital Association recently released a study on Ohio hospitals and social media. The diagnosis? A large increase in time devoted to hospitals' social media. Compared to 2012, when 71 percent of hospitals surveyed said social media composed less than 10 percent of their communications efforts, this year, 70 percent claimed social media composes 10 percent or more of their communications efforts.

The survey, however, did not record what's happening beyond the hospitals' brand names led by communications staff. Often off work hours, physicians are using their personal social media accounts to connect with patients, giving a lesson on the benefits of employee-directed social media to other unexpected industries for social media use.

Dr. Anne Albers, a cardiologist for OhioHealth Heart and Vascular Physicians and social media editor for Vascular Medicine, Journal of the Society for Vascular Medicine, knows about both brand and personal social media. You can just ask her in a live Google hangout, like the one she did for OhioHealth during heart month.

Albers boasts 711 followers on her personal Twitter that features content from her blog, The Heart Health Doctors, which she co-writes with Dr. Kanny S. Grewal, a cardiologist at OhioHealth Riverside Methodist Hospital. Albers directs her patients to the blog to "teach people about a heart-healthy lifestyle."

Albers says that physicians on social media aren't Justin Bieber. But they can use it to connect with physicians around the world as Albers connected on Twitter with Dr. Sanjay Sharma, Chairman of the European Society of Cardiology Sports Cardiology Nucleus. Sharma proved to be a useful connection as Albers was involved in developing a sports cardiology project for OhioHealth.

Like Albers, Dr. Kristine Slam, a breast surgeon for Central Ohio Surgical Associates, uses her personal Facebook to connect with patients - her "girls."

"A lot of my girls post questions," says Slam. "They post pics of themselves after their last visits or vacations."

But the fun doesn't detract from Slam's real mission.

"Fortunately and unfortunately, online is where people get the majority of medical information," says Slam. To deal with this, Slam posts the right medical information, but makes sure it is general, directing questions about personal medical care to be answered in person.

For more on hospitals' growing use of social media, see And the next time you visit the hospital or a physician, you might also want to check them out on Facebook; you never know what symptoms you'll see of a healthy social media addiction.