One of the easiest ways for hospital and health system to take advantage of social media is blogging. Thousands of stories of quality care. There are the stories of dedicated and highly educated and trained professional employees. There are physicians on the medical staff whose collective knowledge and practice of medicine tallies in the hundreds of years, with stories of quality, care and compassion to tell. Volunteers coming in daily who have heartwarming stories of engagement and loyalty. Consider the story lines of patients who would freely and willingly tell their stories of successful high quality care, engagement and treatment at the hospital or within the health system.
No additional resources needed for this effort. The communications talent in your marketing department is already in the building, ready to provide compelling content and context surrounding the hospital or health system.
Best of all you control the message. The hospital or health system can link to the web site. Post to Facebook. Broadcast on twitter. Engage potential employees and followers on the hospital page on LinkedIn. And use the blog as a mechanism for establishing a strong media relations program to develop a press following.
And only 209 hospitals nationwide blog per the Mayo Clinic “Health Care Social Media List”?
I really don’t understand why, and please don’t site HIPAA. There is nothing in blogging that requires the release of or identification of patient information. That is nothing but a smoke screen used to not engage in social media.
Let me pose to you this question. How many times has the hospital or health system marketing staff, completed a Google search to see who is blogging and writing about the hospital or health system? Just because an organizations doesn't engage in an aspect of social media, doesn't mean that it’s not happening in the broader community. Remember that the healthcare consumer is the new paparazzi.
But beyond that little exercise, blogging should be part of the structure of a strategic and fully integrated organizational marketing plan. It’s a method for communicating. It’s a method for building brand. It’s a method of engaging not only the patient, but the newly minted health insured and the burgeoning healthcare consumer. They are all out there searching for information, so why not provide them with the meaningful content?
Now that being said, this isn’t about fluff. Oh look at the new building. See our state-of-the-art cardiac cath lab. Or the ever popular we have wireless internet and HD TVs! This is about providing meaningful engagement content and using the blog inventively.
Since so few hospitals and heath systems blog, this is really a blue ocean strategy for reaching out and engaging. If a hospital or health system is the first in a market to blog, then the tone, tenor and terms of communication are established via content that has contextual clarity. And that ladies and gentleman, makes everyone else in the market a me too.
To blog or not to blog the hospital? I think the question has been answered.