Hospitals employ 5.4 million people in the U.S., and plenty more around the world, so it’s no shock that there are lots of LinkedIn groups dedicated to all aspects of hospital work — administration, marketing, sustainability, process improvement and the like.
A search of LinkedIn’s groups section on the word “hospital” yields 2,175 results, proof that healthcare social media shows no signs of losing steam.
“These days LinkedIn has an extremely high quality of hospital leaders, which has grown from virtually nothing two years ago,” said Anne Zieger, creator of the nextHospital group. “So one way LinkedIn is useful is simply the presence of the right people.”
LinkedIn’s groups are a great way to survey industry colleagues and discuss issues that are attracting attention in a specialized community. They can be a particularly important source for contacts and networking, too.
But where should hospital professionals looking to join the discussion on LinkedIn get started? Below are a few suggestions. (Note that many hospital groups aren’t open and require approval of a request to join, but don’t let that stop you from requesting. Also, this being LinkedIn, there are plenty of jobs-focused groups, but those aren’t included in this article.)
nextHospital: With about 3,700 active members but, more importantly, many active discussions, nextHospital is among the best hospital LinkedIn groups. Like any good group, nextHospital’s discussions contain links to relevant and interesting articles, plus opinions and observations from industry players.
“I’m gratified that we’ve had a lot of smart and top-notch people show up,” Zieger said. “That’s probably because there is very little else out there for them, and partly because I’ve met a lot of them and brought them in.”
Aimed at “visionary hospital leaders,” group discussions touch on issues ranging from technology to hospital design to regulation. One recent popular discussion focused on how health executives can improve their relationships with physicians.
Hospital Administration: Similar to nextHospital, this 4,800-member group is aimed at executives and managers with hospitals and health systems. “Let’s pool our thoughts in one place and create a bible for healthcare management, an encyclopedia which provides all the answers related to practical issues,” said group leader Dr. Jawed Iqbal in a post describing his vision for the group.
The group has an international flavor, with members from across the globe. A recent discussion about whether it’s preferable for a hospital leader to have a medical background generated 54 comments. “With due respect to the medical profession, doctors are not good business men,” said one user. “Today, most of the hospitals are run by the doctors and they spend most of the time with their profession and they do have very little time for the administration.”
Hospital & Healthcare IT & Clinical Analysts in Healthcare IT: This group with a very long name boasts about 6,000 members and many active discussions. As with any health IT group, meaningful use and electronic health records are big topics of conversation.
The group has enjoyed steady growth and added 74 new members last week. It has its share of jobs-related posts, but also includes discussions in which users share their expertise on various health IT matters.
Hospital Infection Control: This group is labeled as “very active” by LinkedIn, thanks to 167 discussions in the last month. While Hospital Infection Control was started as a closed group in 2009, a few months ago its leader opened the group up to anyone interested in joining.
One of the most popular recent discussions in this 2,400-member group asked for advice on how to incorporate best practices for infection control into a new hospital construction project. A recent poll asked group members to weigh in on whether current eye-and-face-protection protocols are good enough to protect health workers from infectious disease.
Hospital Sales & Marketing Professionals: This 3,500-member group aims to help users “share their sales experiences, innovative techniques and success stories and help our peers achieve their targets.” It skews much more heavily toward sales than marketing, with 32 percent of users self-identifying as sales and just 9 percent as marketing.
The group’s growth rate has bumped up and down a bit since it launched in 2008, but Hospital Sales & Marketing Professionals added 50 members last week.