We Got Technology but It’s Useless Without a Strategy

One of my favorite bloggers and marketing brains is Greg of Digital Tonto. He wrote a piece back in June titled ‘The Difference between Strategy and Innovation‘. Let me take a moment to present his premise, what it means to patient knowledge, and show an example. 

Strategy and innovation are different, very different. Greg states it clearly “Without strategy you have no direction, without innovation you lose relevance” We rarely speak about strategy when we discuss social media because we just accept social media is the cat’s meow. It will solve problems since all we have to do is deploy it. NOT! A clear and concise strategy needs to be part and parcel of social media in healthcare in order for it to have a maximum effect.

Greg describes a strategy as “a coherent and substantiate logic for making one set of choices rather than another”. As your mom told you “Make good choices.”  A strategy is used to leverage strength against a weakness, meet a need, or solve a problem. We speak volumes about needs and weaknesses in healthcare. We easily see the issues. But we rarely talk about a strategy and its execution when we speak about social media.

Innovation (i.e. Twitter, Facebook, G+, Instagram) is about possibilities and moving those possibilities forward by combining the old with the new. Innovation is iterative. It is an additive process improving upon existing tools/ideas to create new and better.

The single largest issue we face with the innovation of social media is that none of us are managing it, nor did we create, nor do we have the ability to change it. Social media is a tool owned by others. But it can be used to solve a myriad of problems. Social media innovation exists as a tool for any of us to use. Like most tools it can achieve specific goals, a hammer can drive a nail, a drill can make holes, drive screws, etc. Each cannot do the others job well. With a hammer or a drill we know when to use it where; in effect we are applying a strategy to achieve a goal. How can we make strategic choices using social media in healthcare?

Just to be clear social media does not solving a single problem but in point of fact it solves any number of problems. What it can do is only limited by our imagination. We have a tool that works no matter how you use it or where. It exists within the broad category of the on the world wide web. It has a life of its own. And everyone/anyone can use it. But what’s missing is the fact when social media is applied as a tool to execute a specific strategy to achieve an objective it works better. It becomes more robust. It is measurable back to the objective. Even when we have the right tool it can be disappointing. Using a hammer to drive nails randomly and not building a doghouse is rather stupid. Using a hammer to build a doghouse makes for one happy dog

A practical application would be to expand and improve patient healthcare knowledge?

Written as an objective:

  • Increase the number of new patients who are seeking to solve healthcare problems
  • Improve the quality of knowledge patients find and improve their ability to apply it to their care

The strategies would be:

  • Convince patients the importance of validated evidence based healthcare knowledge will improve their healthcare.
  • Teach patients how to find, appraise, and apply new knowledge to their own care.

The program: 

Develop a curriculum working with a team of social media healthcare activists that would cover the following learning points. 

  •      Identify the healthcare issue needing a solution
  •      How to search the internet: Process, tips, and tricks
  •      What are some trusted sites, what aren’t?
  •      How appraise if a site should be trusted
  •      Social media: Rules of the road, how to make it work, being a good citizen, and security
  •      What is evidence based medicine
  •      What to do with your new knowledge

Identify local libraries and ask them to use the curriculum to teach members or whoever. Offer members of various social media groups to go into the library to teach. 

Once the course is completed those attending opt in to participate in the following

  •      Twitter hash tag specific to that library 
  •      FB page
  •      G+ page

The social media tools are used here are part of the strategy. They work to reinforce learning that has taken place in the live library event. Learners uptake knowledge and information at one time but to truly integrate that knowledge into actions they need to reflect and consider how what they learned can be used within their own healthcare framework and experiences. That is done through questions, recommendations from other participants, new information, how others are using new knowledge, etc. What is occurring is that the one time learning activity is not becoming and ongoing learning/participation/social moment.

Bottom line social media is not a strategy and a tactic. It is not a floor wax and desert topping. It is a tactic that requires a strategy to make it work.

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