SHIFT Communications experts discuss all things healthcare and media.

Do Social Media Contests Help or Hurt When Promoting HIT?

By Amanda Guisbond (agbond)

I asked myself this question after coming across the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS)’ most recent consumer campaign, the “What’s In Your Health Record?” video challenge.  According to the HHS microsite promoting the contest:

Have you ever asked for a copy of your health record and reviewed it? If so, tell us about it!  We invite you to participate in the “What’s in Your Health Record??” Video Challenge (#YourHealthRecord). Create a short, compelling video (up to 2 minutes in length) sharing how getting access to review your health record and checking the information can help make sure you or your loved ones get the best care. It’s important that you and your health care providers have the right information to make the best decisions. 

Contestants have a little more than a month – until August 20 – to submit videos via YouTube or Vimeo, along with a text description, transcript of the video, and consent forms for anyone involved.  First Prize winner takes home $3,000 – second and third winners, and honorable mentions, also receive cash prizes in lesser amounts.

The HHS states the goal of the video challenge is to “develop compelling videos that will motivate and inspire others to request electronic access to their health records and improve care.”

Here’s where I begin to struggle – and it’s two-fold:

First, how many people are eligible and inclined to create a video?  Are consumers, beyond the niche online health IT community, going to take the necessary steps to create a video on a complicated and still not broadly understood topic during their Summer vacation months?  Not to mention, how many people have actually requested access to their electronic record?  We’re still seeing media coverage of the Pew survey finding that less than half of the country knew Obamacare was upheld.  I’d guess that even less than that 45 percent know about electronic health records.

Second, what about your target audience? If the HHS’ goal is to motivate and inspire those who might not otherwise request access to their health record, is their target audience on YouTube or Vimeo?  Would they be coming across hashtags like #YourHealthRecord (which has yet to be used) on Twitter?

I hate to knock the effort from the ONC – I think engaging consumers in health IT practices and educating them on the value of accessing your personal information via an electronic record is a worthy, if not very challenging, effort.  And I appreciate that the U.S. government keeps trying to better inform consumers through social contests and campaigns.  However, I’m not sure it’s working…yet.

Where I think the HHS could wield their force is toward the healthcare providers – despite new tools to manage their health, patients still value face time with their doctors.  Perhaps these visits could include some discussion of the benefits of electronic records to patients.  Maybe the HHS could develop compelling messaging and marketing collateral for doctors and nurses to share with their patients.   Or – and not to sound trite but I believe this to be true – maybe it’s time to pool all the money spent here and there on smaller campaigns and promote the bananas out of the U.S. Olympics team using electronic health records for the first time.  If Olympic swimmer Ryan Lochte showed up on The Today Show talking about how cool it is to get his patient information electronically, more consumers might perk up.

Back to my original question – I don’t think social media contests hurt health IT, but they may be hurting the HHS’ future chances of getting buy-in and budget toward important health IT marketing initiatives if others fall short.  Let’s face it: the benefits of electronic health records are still not as “consumer friendly” as the perils of H1N1 (thanks to @levydr for the link!).

Do you think the “What’s In Your Health Record?” video challenge is a good idea?  Why or why not? 

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One thought on “Do Social Media Contests Help or Hurt When Promoting HIT?

  1. Pingback: Consumer attitudes on EMRs signal greater need for education « HealthyComms

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