Social Media in the Healthcare Profession

Top 5 Ways Social Media is Used by Healthcare Professionals

Social media has become widely used by individuals and businesses to stay connected, communicate and even market products or services. As these sites evolve and become a prevalent way of reaching out to consumers, healthcare professionals are finding new, effective ways to utilize social media.

Social Media and Healthcare

Many healthcare managers are working to effectively utilize social media to engage patients and consumers. Through effective marketing and communication tactics, organizations are able to move away from traditional advertising techniques, and use the internet to connect with consumers in the healthcare field. Consumers heavily rely on information found online and use the internet to gather healthcare information and connect with other patients to garner support and learn about similar conditions. Others utilize these resources for research or to share experiences with healthcare providers and other related organizations. Patients also have a tendency to seek information via social media that assists in the selection of doctors, specialists and hospitals to make informed decisions on the best practices to seek care. Individuals will use social media to post reviews or other comments that support or possibly deter others from choosing that type of healthcare in the future. It is essential for providers to be active on social media and provide accurate information, connect with readers and implement marketing techniques where applicable.

Avoiding HIPAA Violations

The Healthcare Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) was enacted by Congress in 1996 with the intent of providing patients more control over their healthcare records. HIPPA encompasses a variety of key points including:

  • Reducing healthcare fraud
  • Implementing industry-wide standards for information provided on electronic billing
  • Providing health insurance to individuals that are changing or have lost their jobs

In terms of protecting healthcare information, HIPPA sets guidelines that pertain to the protection and confidential handling of an individual’s health records. These guidelines have become somewhat of an issue in terms of social media. Healthcare professionals cannot directly address patients through these outlets as it violates the privacy and confidentiality regulations outlined by HIPPA. Other healthcare facilities are encouraged to implement strict policies and guidelines for what employees are allowed to post on social networking websites. Some ways to avoid HIPPA violations include:

  • Distribute clear social networking policies to employees
  • Avoid any discussion of patients, even in general terms
  • Speak generally about conditions and treatments
  • Prominently post your policies and procedures on all social media platforms
  • Do not practice medicine online by responding to patients offline

Utilizing Social Media

There is a variety of ways that healthcare managers are utilizing social media to enhance their services and provide patients with accurate medical information. Here are the top ways professionals in the field are using social media:

#1: Share Information

Social media is intended to provide individuals the ability to access information quickly and communicate with others. Healthcare organizations utilize these tools and websites to share information with consumers in a variety of ways such as sharing general information about flu shots and tips to avoid a cold. Sharing news regarding outbreaks or health hazards is an effective way for healthcare facilities to provide accurate information to patients. It is important to note that all patient specific information requires permission along with a signed release. Other forms of sharing information through social media include:

  • Provide updates on new technologies
  • Introduce new doctors in a practice on social networks
  • Answer questions on various topics (e.g. how to reach doctors or hours of operation)
  • Deliver generic pre- and post- operative care information
  • Offer patients any updates that relate to the practice itself

#2: Compare and Improve Quality

Another effective way that healthcare managers utilize social media is by spending time evaluating their competitors to get an insight into the services they offer and overall patient satisfaction. By taking a look into different practices and their social media involvement, professionals have the ability to mimic these methods to enhance their own. Some organizations will do better through social media; providers can determine whether or not they need to take more appropriate action to quickly respond to patient requests and improve customer service.

To gather feedback and improve quality, social media interaction can provide doctors and physicians with immediate responses from individuals to help understand common reactions to medications, as well as overall consensus from patients on new techniques in the industry. Using this information that is readily available on social media allows for healthcare organizations to learn from patient reactions and adjust accordingly. By following feedback on these sites, healthcare professionals also have the opportunity to evaluate the possibility of additional services in the industry.

#3: Train Medical Personnel

Some healthcare organizations have begun to utilize social media channels as part of their training process. During presentations, trainees are encouraged to use certain hash tags on Twitter or join other groups to engage one another to make training processes more enjoyable and interactive. These training techniques provide trainees a central location to ask questions and quickly receive answers. Social media gives participants the power to provide presenters with immediate feedback on training sessions.

Trainees are not the only people who benefit from this social media technique. Organizations can use training videos and pictures from training sessions to engage audiences and enhance their social media channels by marketing their facilities and exemplifying their innovating training processes.

#4: Live Updates during Procedures

Although somewhat controversial, there has been an increase of doctors and surgeons providing updates from the operating room. Through Twitter and other social media outlets, healthcare professionals have the ability to deliver up–to-date information during procedures to fellow doctors, medical students or simply curious individuals. Some say these updates are a distraction in the operating room, while others argue that it is an innovation and provides educational value that should be embraced.

The use of social media during operations also provides healthcare facilities the ability to gain attention from industry specific outlets as well as mainstream media. As a marketing approach, organizations create a buzz on social media with these updates, creating excitement and enhancing public awareness of an individual organization to attract patients and medical personnel.

#5: Communicate in Times of Crisis

In times of crisis, the use of social media has increased to provide minute-by-minute information to consumers. Through social media, hospitals and other organizations are able to deliver real-time updates on hospital capacity, operation status and emergency room access. Having an active social media presence allows healthcare professionals to pass along information shared by organizations such as the Red Cross, and the Centers for Disease Control or communicate with news outlets.

As social media continues to become a valuable asset to healthcare organizations and new methods of use are implemented, the industry requires administrators to set guidelines and procedures for effectively managing these channels. To provide the best customer service and accurate information while adhering to HIPAA regulations, organizations need individuals versed in the healthcare administration.


Learn more about Scranton’s Master of Healthcare Administration!

Is Nursing Anesthesia Right for you?

The Nurse Anesthesia (NA) program is a full-time, rigorous, and comprehensive 36-month program, which prepares registered nurses to become Certified Registered Nurse Anesthetists. Students are given the opportunity to integrate classroom content with direct application of advanced techniques in the provision of anesthesia care to patients throughout the lifespan. Clinical skills are learned in a variety of environments, each of which offers experiences in the anesthetic management of specialized patient populations.

More about our program:

  • Prepares nurses to function in the role of certified registered nurse anesthetists.
  • 100% graduate employment rate.
  • 90% first-time certification exam pass rate.
  • 28 months, full-time study to degree.
  • Facilitates a direct access to faculty and advisors on a regular basis while enriching the academic experience.
  • Gain practical knowledge from faculty who bring significant clinical work experiences to the classroom experience.

Learn more about the program, and see if it’s right for you!

Q & A: A Journey in Healthcare Administration

Alumni Spotlight — Journey from Clinician to Administrator: Advancing in Healthcare Administration

Neel Pathak, an MHA graduate, has eight years of progressive management experience in diverse settings, including major health systems, healthcare associations, accrediting organizations, and academic institutions. He is a skilled clinician, an experienced administrator, and a strong advocate of initiatives in process excellence. He also serves as a Baldrige Examiner for state and national levels. His unconventional career path, he says, was shaped by earning his MHA degree at The University of Scranton. Read on to learn how he’s impacted patient care on national and regional levels.

How did you decide on a career in the healthcare field?

I’ve had an interest in the healthcare field since high school. I’m originally from India and I spent a year and a half practicing as a clinician—a physical therapist. Though I loved being a clinician, I had an insider’s look at the management activities of the clinic. That sparked my interest to learn more about the business and delivery of healthcare. That interest motivated me to move to the United States to pursue a program in healthcare administration.

What made you choose The University of Scranton?

It was the combination of having all the right elements in one place. First, I wanted to attend a program that was strong academically and demanded an administrative residency or fellowship so I could gain more first-hand experience in the field. Second, I only looked at CAHME-accredited programs because I knew that meant the rigor, integrity, and quality of my education was ensured. I was able to have a phone interview with the program director, Dr. West, while I was still in India researching schools. He’s also a member of CAHME’s Board of Directors, so I knew I was talking to an extremely knowledgeable professor—and we really connected! I appreciated the personal and student-centric approach. It seemed like the perfect fit.

How did you find your residency/fellowship?

Scranton’s MHA program provided multiple resources early in the program that helped orient me with the residency/fellowship process. Current students in those phases spoke with us about their experiences. We were encouraged to join the American College of Healthcare Executives, which in turn offered seminars and education regarding fellowships. Faculty advisors were familiar with our goals and matched us with appropriate residency and fellowship opportunities. I knew these are very competitive and it was important to me to find the right option to better understand the healthcare delivery system in its entirety, from strategy to operations and front-line management.

Where did you complete your residency?

I was selected for the Aramark Healthcare Administrative Fellowship and placed at OhioHealth, a health system headquartered in Columbus, OH. This was a unique opportunity to get exposure to two different organizations. Aramark sponsored the healthcare fellowship and the selected fellows were paired with a client organization. Aramark’s philosophy “Everything’s Connected” gave us a unique vantage point in understanding the day-to-day operations of a hospital or healthcare system from not just a practice management standpoint, but also from a service and patient-experience standpoint.

They selected five fellows from across the nation, and I was paired with the senior vice president of support services at OhioHealth. While I was there, I worked on projects in eight different hospitals. They included strategy development and planning for a new neuroscience building, quality and process improvement initiatives, physician-practice management projects, and revenue-cycle management initiatives, among others.

Throughout my fieldwork, I was able to attend industry conferences like the American College of Healthcare Executives Leadership Congress, the American Hospital Association’s Leadership Summit, and the National Association of Health Services Executives Conference.

Because of the unique fellowship structure, Aramark was also able to leverage other healthcare clients in their network to offer us unique observation opportunities at leading healthcare organizations like the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia, MD Anderson Cancer Institute, and Texas Children’s Hospital, among others.

How did you transition from an administrative fellow to a research/program specialist at the American Hospital Association?

I wanted to explore different settings in the healthcare industry and build upon my quality improvement experience. I got an opportunity with the American Hospital Association (AHA) in Chicago—they advocate for 5,000 hospitals and healthcare systems across the country.

I worked on The CUSP: STOP CAUTI project with Health Research and Educational Trust—the research arm of the AHA. The project specifically focused on reducing catheter-associated urinary tract infections across the country.

We had a national team of experts who provided leadership and guidance on content. In addition, we worked with state hospital associations to get their buy-in and assist them in their journey to reduce hospital-acquired infections. We collected, analyzed, and reported the data on a national level to identify trends and assisted individual hospitals through their state’s hospital associations by sharing best practices.

I’m proud to report that we saw a significant reduction in hospital-acquired infections throughout the project, saving millions of lives and millions of dollars.

After the AHA, you took an opportunity with CAHME. What was that experience like?

Right after my time with AHA, an opportunity with the Commission on Accreditation of Healthcare Management Education (CAHME) came along. While I was still a student, I worked with Dr. West on a small project with them. When I saw CAHME had a position open for a director of business and development, I knew it would be a great learning opportunity. And it was! CAHME taught me more about business development and I was proud that they ensure the future generations of healthcare leaders are training appropriately.

During my time at CAHME, we made our business processes more efficient by leveraging the right technologies and moving to a cloud-based environment. By using tools like Box, Salesforce, Office 365, and Constant Contact, we improved our day-to-day processes and provided better value for our programs.

This experience of improving quality on a national scale taught me a lot about teamwork and further fueled my passion for quality and process improvement. I launched a signature program—the CAHME Awards—which recognizes organizations that are going above and beyond meeting accreditation standards and are doing exceptionally well. The awards program is very successful and is sponsored by leading healthcare organizations like Modern Healthcare, Ascension, Cerner, Canon, and Baylor Scott & White Health.

The University of Scranton just won the CAHME CANON Award. Is that part of this project you worked on?

Yes! The full name of the award is Canon Solutions America Award for Sustainability in Healthcare Management Education and Practice. As its name suggests, the award serves to incorporate the ideals of sustainability in future healthcare leaders. It recognizes the significant influence of education programs in creating sustainable, inclusive, and socially responsible healthcare organizations. I’m very glad that Scranton won that award!

What do you do in your current role in Ambulatory Services Administration at the Johns Hopkins Hospital?

We have a state‐of‐the‐art outpatient center with over 60 clinics, providing 20 ancillary services, and serving about 650,000 patient visits annually. I’m a project administrator in the Ambulatory Services department. My role is to serve as an internal change-management consultant by planning, directing, and implementing projects to improve quality, operations, efficiency, access, delivery, and experience of care for ambulatory patients. We use innovative technologies and business-intelligence tools with Epic and Tableau to make data-driven decisions.

After my time with CAHME, I wanted to explore the ambulatory and practice management setting further. This opportunity with Johns Hopkins, which has been ranked the number one hospital in the country for more than 20 straight years, has been a dream come true in experience and learning.

Are there any projects that stand out in your experiences in ambulatory services administration?

I serve as the Patient Experience Lead for Ambulatory Services. At Johns Hopkins, we have a really strong focus on providing the best possible care in the best possible place. It is challenging to provide that seamless experience in a complex academic medical center environment.

We created an executive council to set goals and provide leadership and mentorship for all aspects of patient experience. We also created a coordinating committee—the working arm that digs deep into the patient-experience data points: Current processes and challenges, workflows, and sharing of best practices to improve care delivery and experience. We look at our scores and compare them to national benchmarks to see what’s working and what we can do to deliver a better experience.

We discuss these results with our clinical care teams to find opportunities for improvement together. We have gained a lot of traction on this and our clinics are highly engaged in this journey. I’m very proud of that.

It sounds like a lot of data and analytics go into your role. Was that something you learned in Scranton’s MHA program? Or is it more on-the-job learning?

There was a lot of emphasis on data in the program, beyond just understanding the foundation of data and finances. We focused on evidence-based decision-making in the MHA program. That being said, I think there are always skills and nuances you have to learn on the job. I’m a graduate of the Leadership and Excellence in Analytics and Data Science (LEADS) program at Johns Hopkins, which focuses on teaching professionals how to use data in their decision-making.

Congratulations on your appointment to the Baldrige Board of Examiners! How did you become involved with the Board?

I was first introduced to the Baldrige criteria while at the AHA. I talked to a few members who completed the examiner training and studied the Baldrige approach and criteria. What I liked about their approach is that it’s not prescriptive and not built for a specific health system with exactly 200 beds. It’s for anyone looking to improve their performance: A hospital, nonprofit, city, or small business. The Baldrige criteria can adapt to these unique situations.

I was selected for the state examiner role after my training opportunity. A few years later, I applied for the national level and became the national examiner.

I review applications for the Baldrige award—a prestigious presidential award that demands a very rigorous process. Baldrige is administered by the National Institute of Standards and Technology from the U.S. Department of Commerce. The Baldrige criteria encourages applicants to think about their processes and the results from an organizational viewpoint. This, in turn, stimulates conversations about improvement strategies.

How long do you serve as examiner?

The Baldrige examiner term is for one year. You need to reapply again to serve on the Board and go through the training.

You’ve had many high-level positions. Do you think your clinical background helped you get to where you are today?

Yes, it certainly helped! My clinical background coupled with administrative experiences helps me better understand operational issues. It leads to a better vantage point in decision-making. When I was treating patients, I made one-on-one decisions regarding their care. Now the decisions I make affect patients on a larger scale. I have to be mindful of that fact and ensure each decision I make is ultimately patient-centric.

What advice would you give someone looking to move up in the healthcare field, even without that clinical background?

First, you can still succeed in this field without having a clinical background. What you must have top of mind at all times is a focus on quality patient care. With that, you can achieve your goals.

My second piece of advice to anyone looking to advance in healthcare is don’t limit yourself. Take advantage of how broad and diverse the healthcare field is to understand the levels of patient care in multiple settings. There are hospitals, outpatient settings, nursing homes, insurance companies, retail clinics—the opportunities are endless, so branch out.

You’re now involved with current students as a mentor. How did that come about?

I remember when mentors helped shape and guide my decisions as a student. I want to ensure our current students have that same opportunity, and so I serve as an external/alumni mentor for many students in the Scranton MHA program.

We also created The University of Scranton MHA Alumni Society. I serve as one of the board officers and make sure we give back to the Scranton MHA program in as many ways as we can. We meet on a monthly basis and talk through how to improve relationships with current students and re-engage past alumni to better the program.


Learn more about the MHA program here.

 

Do you think you know the Top Health Informatics Career Paths?

Professionals in “health informatics,” a rapidly growing field that involves collecting and analyzing health care data, are blazing a new path in an area where computers and care providers work together.

While informatics in medicine is increasing the usefulness of patient data, a federal mandate for “meaningful use” of digitized patient records plus financial incentives for creating and maintaining electronic health records are putting pressure on even the smallest clinics to use computers to improve care. As a result, job opportunities in the health informatics field are increasing.

Careers in health informatics vary depending on the size of the employer and what types of health data they manage. Most jobs involve gathering data and analyzing them, designing workflows, measuring impact, educating and training end users, managing a system or acting as a liaison between users and coders.

If you have a background in health or information technology, a Master of Science in Health Informatics degree, such as the one offered online at The University of Scranton, can be your introduction to a field where you can help others without having to learn to code.

Here are some of the opportunities graduates might have when they enter the workforce.

Clinical informaticist

This career can be applied to a range of responsibilities. In smaller settings, such as a doctor’s office or a small medical practice, a clinical informaticist might be responsible for organizing and managing patient data; making the information available to health care providers, staff, and patients; educating the end users in the current systems; optimizing information technology (IT) use; and receiving feedback and requests from users. In a large organization such as a network of hospitals, those duties might be split up among multiple informaticists.

Pharmacy or nutrition informaticist

On a smaller scale, informatics is useful when using patient and prescription data to make medication safer and more efficient. Pharmacy informaticists use data to monitor dosing and adverse reactions and ensure more accurate and detailed prescriptions from physicians to improve patients’ results.

Similarly, nutrition informaticists use patient data to make more informed decisions about food planning, whether the goal is to reduce allergic reactions, or improve a treatment plan.

Informatics analyst

The informaticist’s job can involve a lot of face-to-face education and problem solving; the analyst’s job is focused on working with data. A health informatics analyst studies data and develops models of events and concepts that can provide answers to clinical questions. Some analysts also collect data or support the collection and systems used to manage the data. What is analyzed — from study design to insurance claims, patient readmission, and education outcomes — depends on the employer.

Nurse informaticist

The intersection between informatics and nursing is particularly rich in job opportunities. Nurse informaticists are liaisons between nurses and developers. They study workflows to help developers build tools that nurses can use. They relay concerns and limitations to find solutions that work for both the programmers and the users. They design systems and build functions that allow nurses to make the best use of data.

Informatics specialist

Informatics specialists often work with an organization’s leadership on directives, quality initiatives, and governance to ensure IT systems that collect, manage, and secure data are working for the group. If a hospital chief executive officer wants to reduce patient readmissions and post-surgical infections, the informatics specialist is responsible for defining progress toward those goals and for identifying and testing solutions with data. The solutions may not necessarily involve developing an application or improving a computer system, but usually, the outcomes are measured and monitored with data.

Informatics manager

The informatics manager is responsible for making sure systems are working when they are needed. They facilitate access to data, check that collected data are accurate and ensure all the information is in compliance with federal and state guidelines. A clinical informatics manager might oversee these tasks for an entire hospital or medical practice.

Informatics director

If you already have IT or hospital administration experience, being a director of informatics for a healthcare organization is the most lucrative job on the list. Responsibilities include promoting informatics systems within an organization, making those systems work for the organization, gauging feedback and staying up to date with the best tools available for your organization’s goals.


Learn more about a degree in Health Informatics from The University of Scranton.

What is “The Scranton Domino Effect”? Alumni Unite for a Common Mission.

Marie Yezzo ’01 calls it “the Scranton domino effect.”

As the vice president for professional support services at WMC-Health, a health care network in the Hudson Valley in New York that serves more than 3.5 million patients, she started hosting graduate students in Scranton’s Master of Health Administration program for their residency training five years ago. And she witnessed one Scranton graduate after another impress the hospital staff and go on to earn a full-time job in departments across the health system.

A few have moved on to other hospitals, but five of those Royals remain: Jack Burtis ’15, G’18, Brittany Drake-Koo G’11, Sahar Malek ’10, G’12, Robert Patella G’17 and Connor Shanahan ’15, G’16, all working alongside Yezzo and Elissa Chessari ’02, who is the vice president of operations for Westchester Medical Center, the network’s flagship hospital. These are just seven of the Scranton alumni at WMCHealth using their Jesuit education to make an impact in health care.

The Mission

For Chessari, the mission of WMCHealth resonates with her values and harks back to her years at Scranton.

“Our mission statement at Westchester Medical Center is to provide the highest quality of care, regardless of ability to pay, and that is what initially drew me (here),” she said. “I suspect that this mission is what attracts and retains so many other Scranton alums.”

Yezzo credits the strong network among Scranton health care administration alumni for bringing each of these graduates to WMCHealth. A biology major with a minor in business while she was an undergraduate at Scranton, Yezzo sees similarities in how both she and her colleagues from Scranton’s MHA program approach their day-to-day work.

“We didn’t all go to school (at Scranton) at the same time or even cross paths until we started working at Westchester Medical Center. I’m not sure if it was coincidence or divine intervention,” she said.

“We use our Scranton educations to treat others, both co-workers and patients, as we would want to be treated. Seeing our impact is the best part. Some of us have been with the organization for more than 10 years. We have been part of major construction projects, programmatic development and various initiatives from design to completion.”

Essential Indirect Care

Although, as administrators, the alumni are not providing direct patient care, each is impacting the lives of patients.

“While most on my team are not involved in direct patient care, we support the bedside care providers,” Chessari said. “We work hard to find enhancements to operational efficiency and improvements in processes and business initiatives, which translates into better patient care and better outcomes.”

Patella works as a financial analyst at Bon Secours Charity Health System, a group of three hospitals that are part of WMCHealth.

“I am helping the organization to reduce labor expenses, manage valuable resources and improve departmental performance,” said Patella, a 2017 MHA graduate. “At Scranton, I learned a lot about time management, personal brand management and managing conflict within a team, which I use in my day-to-day work.”

Burtis helps make decisions that lead to better patient outcomes in his role as a revenue integrity analyst. He earned his MHA from Scranton in 2018, after completing his undergraduate degree in 2015.

“I work alongside our revenue cycle team to improve processes and develop tools to help ensure accurate billing for services provided by our network’s physician group,” he said. “I love the challenge and the novelty of my work. No two days are the same in health care. There are always new challenges that really require you to think and problem-solve on your own.”

Similarly, Shanahan relishes the fast-paced environment in his job as the manager of the outpatient department clinics and AIDS care center.

“Health care is a growing industry, and the connections I made at Scranton allowed me to not only understand the potential opportunity in the field, but also allowed me to capitalize on starting a career in such a fast-paced industry at a great place like Westchester Medical Center,” he said. “Working with the many groups and departments within Westchester Medical Center on a daily basis can be challenging, because everyone has different desires and needs. But remembering that we are all working toward the same goal — providing the best possible patient experience — helps us work together to get the job done.”

The WMCHealth network also employs numerous Scranton graduates from the nursing programs, in addition to these health administration alumni. And their colleagues say the Scranton graduates stand out in their contributions to the health system.

“There is a learning curve for anyone who joins a network of the size and complexity of the WMCHealth,” said Anthony Costello, the senior vice president of professional and support services and the supervisor of many of the Scranton MHA alumni. “We’ve often found degree holders from The University of Scranton well prepared to handle the ever-evolving dynamics of a regional health care provider.”

The Network

As Yezzo pointed out, these Scranton alumni are ready to tackle the challenges in the health care field not only because of their rigorous Jesuit education in health administration but also because of the strength and support of the Scranton network. The Health Administration Alumni Council is a major part of that network.

Active since 2014, the Health Administration Alumni Council has built a thriving mentorship program between alumni and current students while celebrating the professional achievements of its alumni, both informally and with the annual Daniel J. West Award for early career success.

Alumni engage in a LinkedIn group and meet annually at the American College of Healthcare Executives (ACHE) Congress on Health Care Leadership in Chicago. The council is also involved in planning the Annual Healthcare Symposium on campus in Scranton.

Jonathan Forte ’07, G’09, the vice president of the Health Administration Alumni Council, emphasized how much the alumni council wants to support current students. “Every job that I’ve ever received is a result of some connection that I’ve made as a result of networking or mentorship, and all of that started for me as a student at The University of Scranton — relying on the professional network of my professors and guest speakers and people who felt it important enough to come in and speak and spend their time with current students,” said Forte, who will start a new job in September as senior vice president and chief operating officer of the Choptank Community Health System on the Eastern Shore of Maryland.

Forte said it’s important to share the knowledge these practitioners gain from being in the real world with students, both in Scranton’s undergraduate and graduate programs.

“We want students to have a sense of what being a hospital administrator looks like in today’s health care environment and of applying our Ignatian values learned on campus in health care management,” he said. “This is our opportunity to pay it forward and give back.”


Learn more about the MHA program.

This story was originally published in The Scranton Journal.