How Social Media Can Help Top Performing Hospitals Spread the Word

Editor’s Note: Occasionally I pull blogposts from the archives that resonate today. This one struck me as a particularly good example of how to use social media to benefit a hospital. Originally posted Sep 14, 2011. 

Today The Joint Commission releases its “Improving America’s Hospitals” annual report, including its first ever list of the nation’s top performers on key quality measures.

This recognition is based on data reported about evidence-based clinical processes that are shown to improve care for certain conditions, including heart attack, heart failure, pneumonia, surgical care and children’s asthma.

If your hospital is one of the fortunate 405 hospitals in America receiving this recognition, it’s a great opportunity to distinguish yourself from your competition.

Traditional communication tools

In the past, you would have prepared a news release and sent it to your local media, sat back and crossed your fingers in the hopes that an editor would find the information newsworthy. Then you may have created a paid advertisement for newspaper, radio, billboard or even television, trumpeting the good news.

But if you are one of the 1,000 U.S. hospitals that has embraced social media, you have a whole new arsenal of tools to spread the word. Here are some of the other things you can do to get the word out to your social media followers and friends.

Develop a patient-centered news release

In your news release, resist the tendency to talk about how great this news is for your hospital. Make sure that early in your release you explain in simple terms the benefit to your patients and their families. As Chris Bevolo has so well stated, Jane (or Joe) Public doesn’t care about your hospital. She cares about herself and her family. How does this recognition make her safer and healthier when she comes to your hospital?

Make sure your news release has links to The Joint Commission, your hospital’s website and other supporting materials.

Post the release to your website

Google search (and Bing and Yahoo search for that matter) loves fresh web content, and a “newsroom” or “latest news” section on your website is an easy way to develop new content. When you include links to The Joint Commission’s website and the full report, you add credibility to your news and additional search interest.

In addition, the news is there for a long time for patients and their families to find when they browse your site.

Mention the recognition in your hospital blog

Only about 85 U.S. hospitals who embrace social media are consistently blogging, according to Ed Bennett’s hospital social media list. That’s unfortunate. I understand that regular blogging seems daunting to many, but it’s proven to be one of the best ways to build long-term loyalty and interest from your community. If you’re one of the fortunate hospitals to have loyal followers of a hospital blog, here’s your chance to put a personal touch to the recognition.

Tweet your recognition

Tweet the good news to your followers with a link to your news release on your website. If news media pick up the story, tweet again with a link to media stories.

Post the news on your Facebook page

Announce the good news on your Facebook page. You have more room on Facebook to explain in greater detail the value of this recognition to your patients. Remember to include a link to the news release on your website and a link to your YouTube video.

Develop a simple video for your website and YouTube channel

This is your opportunity to add a visual element to your social media. Create a simple video using a handheld Flip or iPhone camera. It doesn’t need to be fancy. Just make sure the lighting is good, the image is steady and the sound is clear.

Post the video to your YouTube channel, tag it with the essential key words and link back to your website.

Studies show that patients want to hear from clinical experts, not PR folks. So don’t feature your marketing director. Instead, focus on your quality control manager or a physician or nurse who specializes in the area of your recognition (heart attack, heart failure, pneumonia, surgical care or children’s asthma).

And remember to make sure that his or her comments focus on the patient, not the hospital. How does this recognition show that patients are safer and healthier by coming to your hospital?

The payoff

When you implement social media platforms, you take the message to patients and families who care about your hospital. They’ve shown it by following your Twitter feed or liking your hospital.

And when they share the good news with their friends and their friends share it with their friends, you’re benefitting by the exponential reach of social media. This is when all the hard work you’ve put into building your social media community pays off.


How we help

Hive Strategies gives webinars, presentations and workshops to help hospitals and physician clinics learn the skills they need to thrive during health care reform. Read about our services. Start a conversation. Email us or call us at 503-472-5512.

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