Is Lab Industry Ready for Facebook and MySpace?

Is Lab Industry Ready for Facebook and MySpace?

WHO COULD HAVE IMAGINED, JUST A FEW YEARS AGO, that social networking sites such as Facebook.com, MySpace.com, and YouTube.com would become a useful platform that allows clinical laboratories, pathology groups, and in vitro diagnostics (IVD) companies to engage in two-way conversations with patients and customers?

After all, in those days, the preponderance of active users of these social networking services were young people. There were no obvious business reasons why a clinical laboratory might want to establish its own page on any of these sites. If that was the popular wisdom then, it is not accurate today.

In my neighborhood, even the retired ladies now maintain Facebook or MySpace pages and regularly communicate with each other via this medium. Of course, since elderly folks tend to have a variety of health problems, there is plenty of conversation taking place about these topics. I suspect that is why certain lab companies, like Myriad Genetics with its predictive genetic test for breast cancer, have established a presence on these social networking sites and find them useful for communicating with women concerned about breast cancer.

On pages 3-6, THE DARK REPORT provides the lab industry’s first briefing about why IVD companies and certain clinical laboratories are consciously incorporating social networking activities into their marketing and business development programs. I suspect it will surprise many pathologists and lab managers at how rapidly social networking has become a useful conduit for organizations to directly conduct two-way conversations with patients, customers, and prospects.

In fact, it might be smart for clinical labs and pathology groups to invite their Generation Y pathologists and medical technologists to enlighten the marketing and sales teams at their labs about how social networking works. An even bolder move would be to empower the most enthusiastic of these Gen Y laboratory professionals to help design social networking programs in tandem with the lab’s sales and marketing team.

By way of full disclosure, this aging curmudgeon acknowledges that he doesn’t surf such social networking sites as FaceBook.com and MySpace.com. However, he has learned that he can go to YouTube.com and easily find entertaining clips of musical performers popular during his youth. With just a couple of mouse clicks, performances by Mitch Miller and Patti Page can be accessed!

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