How to create a thriving HIPAA-compliant online patient community

If you’re thinking about launching an online patient community, here is what you must know first – and how Hive Strategies can help.

Most online communities fail

Without proper preparation and active management, Gartner says “be ready for the community to fail.”

Successful online communities can provide remarkable benefits to hospitals and health systems

Evidence-based market research has shown that successful online patient communities can:

  • Increase loyalty, elicit strong emotional connections, and significantly reduce switching to other health systems.
  • Promote recommended behavior.
  • Fill important gaps in supportive care.
  • Increase patient engagement, empowerment and well-being.

As we move from fee-for-service to population management, online communities can play a significant role in helping your patients achieve better health at lower costs while developing greater loyalty to your physicians and hospitals.

There is a proven pathway to online community success

Hive Strategies helps clients create successful online patient communities through a Discovery process that includes extensive interviews and research and answers 5 essential questions:

  • What business or marketing challenge will my online community help me solve?
  • What is the unique position of my community?
  • What are the objectives for my community, including clear, measurable outcomes and timelines?
  • Are key stakeholders on board?
  • What resources are necessary for my community to succeed?

A Roadmap to Online Community Success

After completing the Discovery process, we provide:

  • A detailed community profile of who should join the community, how they would join, why they would join, and what will keep them coming back.
  • Specific marketing strategies to drive awareness of and enrollment in the community.
  • A resource plan, including specific people and budgets that will be committed to the community.
  • Specific benefits to your hospital or health system, patients, caregivers or family members.
  • A list of specific, measurable community outcomes.

Contact Dan Hinmon at 503-435-8346 for specific ways we can help you create a thriving online patient community. 

@GetSocialHealth podcast explores the benefits of online patient communities

Janet Kennedy is an enthusiastic champion of healthcare social media.

She hosts the Get Social Health podcast each week to inspire hospitals, medical practices, healthcare practitioners and patients connect and engage via social media.

I was fortunate enough to be interviewed by Janet for today’s podcast. She is an engaging host with an inquisitive mind — and great voice to match. Here’s the link to the podcast and some of the questions I answer.


  • How do you gauge success in an online community?
  • What do we mean by return on community?
  • What are the main benefits of starting an online patient community?
  • Can online patient communities support population health?
  • What are the most important features inside a community?
  • How important is a community manager, and what skills are essential for good community management?
  • What are the most active types of patient communities?
  • What are the four steps to creating and maintaining a successful online community?
  • What is the CareHubs community platform?
  • How long should a hospital plan to support a patient community?
  • How should patient communities respond to trolls?
  • How do online communities help patient engagement?

Twitter Training Wheels: Hospital Twitter Etiquette for Beginners, Part Two

flickr: Dottie Mae

Last week, I introduced beginners to some of the basic Twitter etiquette. Today, I’m taking that discussion even further.

What are hashtags and why should I use them?

A hashtag is the symbol “#.” It is used with words, short phrases, or abbreviations (ex: #hospitals, #giveback, #hcsm) in order to categorize Tweets and make their subjects easy to find.

If you click on a hashtag in a Tweet, Twitter will show you all the other Tweets featuring that hashtag. They’re a great way to focus searches and include your Tweets in conversations about specific subjects. You can see the plethora of hashtags in use at: Also, if you look on the right of your Twitter page, you’ll see a column called “Trends.” This column is constantly updated with hashtags most in use at the current time. Read more

Swedish to Hospitals: Surprising Insights Into HIPAA and Social Media

Dana Lewis is interactive marketing specialist at Swedish, a Seattle healthcare system, and the moderator of the #hcsm twitter chat each Sunday at 8 p.m. CT.

Swedish began implementing social media in 2009 and brought Dana onboard about a year ago. I wanted to know how Swedish approached one of the major barriers to many hospitals – fear of HIPAA violations – and Dana was kind enough to allow me to interview her.

She makes excellent points about HIPAA policy, training and keeping it all in perspective. Hint: Doctors are more likely to violate HIPAA on an elevator than in social media. And Dana offers some surprising advice to hospitals thinking of incorporating social media. (Some comments are edited for brevity.) Read more

100 Hospital Social Media Blog Posts: Our Favorites Revealed!

flickr: xsix

Today marks the 100th blog post for Hive Strategies. That’s pretty puny compared to Seth Godin, best-selling author and agent of change, who has published more than 3,000 blog posts.

But still, we’re feeling pretty good about it. Why? Because blogging is helping us fine-tune our thinking and share important, sometimes critical, information. We hope it is helping you as you work your way through the often overwhelming and confusing maze of hospital social media. Read more