Montag, 19. April 2010

10 Hospital Social Media Success Stories

(originally posted by me at

Social media continues to be a hotly debated topic in the popular press. Many evangelists believe social media is the best thing since sliced bread. Just look at this Time magazine article on how Twitter is supposedly going to fundamentally change the world we know and how we digest information. Other folks see it as all hype without any real substance, or even worse, too risky to play with now. Case in point: the NFL, as a brand/product protecting policy, just made it clear to players: no tweeting from the sidelines. There’s also a new report basically noting that 80% of Twitter is “all about me.”

Wherever you are at, know this: Many hospitals are quietly utilizing social media tools effectively. Here are 10 success stories grouped into 3 categories: proactive outreach, concierge services and live event coverage. If you read just one, choose number 7.

Proactive Outreach

1. Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center CEO Paul Levy blogs to run a better hospital. Not just for marketing. Truly to get his hospital to run more efficiently and transparently. Rarely will you find a CEO who is such a prolific/transparent writer (and who has such a trusting board). The rest of us benefit from his writing. Of late, we get to join them on their journey into Kaizen (a Japanese philosophy that focuses on continuous lifelong improvement). We get to be a fly on the wall during his dinner with the prostate team (physicians and patients). We read about him addressing the local union trying to unionize the hospital. This Boston magazine quote says it all: “To run a better hospital, this CEO became a better blogger.” Read the whole article to learn about his journey into blogging stardom and, more importantly, change management.

2. Geisinger uses Twitter/Facebook to recruit gastroenterologists. Why not, if 70% of doctors search for jobs online? Successful recruitment of 1 of the 3 doctors is attributed directly to Geisinger’s Facebook page.

3. Lifespan reaches out to patients and family personally through Twitter. Read the description of how it used Twitter to proactively reach out to patients and family who were visiting its hospital. Patients typically have 2 responses: surprise that the hospital is on Twitter and sincere appreciation for its reaching out personally to them.

4. Ob/gyn practice uses Twitter and Facebook (17-page study in PDF format) to educate patients and facilitate patient-to-patient interaction. With an average of only 8 minutes to spend per patient, these doctors wanted a way to provide deeper and richer information to their patients. They also realized that the interaction among patients is important, too.

Concierge Services

5. Scripps uses Twitter to turn angry patients into loyal ones. Its basic approach of “try new things, be nice to people and don’t say anything that our legal department would object to” has yielded “little instances of gratitude that make what we’re doing worthwhile. Raging angry fires put out, people passing around our wellness stories, horrible reviews retracted and replaced with stories of great customer service.”

6. Norman Regional Health System spends 30 minutes a day on Twitter and Facebook. Through these tools, they’ve built a greater partnership with the press. They’ve had happy patients share their stories. And they’ve worked quickly with frustrated patients to get their issues resolved. “We would rather have them cared for in a positive and proactive manner immediately than weeks later as seen with other customer service tools. That’s the gift of social media—immediacy.”

Live Event Coverage

7. Children’s Medical Center in Dallas tweeted about a kidney transplant from a father to his son. Twittering took place at both UT Southwestern Medical Center (where the kidney was removed from the father) and Children’s. According to data from Children’s (reported by Greystone), the results of this single event were as follows: “By the end of the day, Children’s Twitter followers had increased 370%, 40 interviews were scheduled over the following 9 days and more than 600 stories were garnered with more than 60 million impressions. In addition, 20 people contacted Children’s transplant program to request information about becoming an organ donor.”

8. At least 7 hospitals have used Twitter during live surgery. Their stories are embedded in these links. Common goals are both buzz building and patient education:

  • St. Luke’s in Cedar Rapids (hysterectomy and uterine prolapse surgery). One hospital spokesman said, “A lot of people would like to go into the operating room and see what happens but don’t want all the visuals and stuff.”
  • UNC Hospitals (heart procedure)
  • Henry Ford (removal of a cancerous kidney mass). From the article: “Dr Craig Rogers, the lead surgeon in the Henry Ford surgery, said the impetus for his Twittering was to let people know that a tumor can be removed without taking the entire kidney.”
  • Sherman Hospital (robot-assisted laparoscopic hysterectomy). During this surgery, 72 followers asked questions on Twitter, mostly related to the da Vinci® Surgical System.
  • OSF St Joseph (brain surgery)
  • Sinai Hospital in Baltimore (sleeve gastrectomy)
  • Methodist University Hospital in Memphis (brain surgery). This one led to 21,000 YouTube views and 3 requests for appointments.

9. South Coast Health System uses Twitter for real-time crisis communication. After a big chemical spill in the neighborhood, 50 people were taken to local hospitals for treatment. Twitter was the perfect tool to stream live and breaking information about status, media reports and number of patients admitted and released.

10. St Jude’s Children’s Research Hospital lets donors and patients tell their story for them. Its Facebook group now has 100,000 fans. Some recent quotes:

“We can never repay what you have meant to our family.”

“I work at Chili’s and am so proud of the money that we help donate to St Jude’s!”

As you can see, social media has become part of many hospitals’ portfolio of strategies to communicate and engage with patients and stakeholders. While hospitals are usually considered pretty conservative, social media is a little odd in that it’s an investment mostly of time (and interest!), not of capital. One ad exec from world-renowned Ogilvy even thinks hospitals are quietly leading the way with social media. I’m not sure about that, but we’re off to a great start.

Feel free to share your organization’s journey into social media as well.

Other resources:

If you’re interested specifically in how hospitals use social media, register at where I’ve written extensively on the topic and also started a group of 280 hospital executives interested in the topic.

Posted via web from Blog "Gesundheitswirtschaft"

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