For all the buzz around social media, we still keep coming across people who say “It’s not for us” or “we don’t think it’s important” or “do me a favour – this organisation hasn’t even got its press releases right yet.”

But it really doesn’t matter whether you’re into social media, ready for social media, or just plain indifferent to social media.

Because chances are many patients and healthcare professionals, are already using it or working on how to use it. In their spare time, your staff certainly will be, now three-fifths of the UK population have Facebook accounts.

In today’s world the best way to keep a finger on the pulse of public opinion about medical issues is to monitor social media. Patients are increasingly making their views known on it and can drive the market from user level.

There’s no ‘mystic art’ to doing this, we use a variety of internet tools to keep an eye on Twitter, Facebook, relevant blogs and the myriad other applications that make up social media networking.

The key that makes a successful monitoring job is intelligence. For example, what interests a company most will not necessarily be seeing its own brand names. Senior managers may be just as interested in specific competitors or products, or happenings in other market sectors.

It’s all about being close to the client, knowing his or her aims and needs, and working closely with in – house teams to ensure they know what the buzz is in the vital areas of interest .

Monitoring is not an expensive commodity, but the cost of not monitoring; not knowing what’s coming out of an internet-blue sky could be immense.