I meant to cite this article about the use of social media in health care settings several weeks ago. It's main focus is marketing, but I think the ramifications extend beyond that topic.
On the marketing front, a friend (Lisa Pollack at Denterlein Worldwide) suggests:
Mr Maruggi talks about guidance and professional information as two key uses of social media in the health care industry, and I would add to that the power of trust in a social network. Facebook/MySpace/LinkedIn et al are made up of networks of people pre-selected to trust each others’ opinions. Tapping in to that trust network could be a remarkable step forward to a hospital wishing to build its brand.
I remember talking about hospital advertising about a year ago. I know that many people are put off at the idea of a hospital spending lots of money on media buys to enhance its image. Maybe social media offers a more cost-effective and socially acceptable way to do that, plus a forum to offer material that has a clinically educational content.