Although it was seven years ago, I remember it as though it was yesterday. My wife, Sandy, had her annual wellness visit and a week later got a call from her doctor's office. When she got off the phone I knew she was upset. “I have diabetes,” she said.
That diagnosis may not scare you, but my wife’s dad was a diabetic who died of a heart attack at 72. Her four diabetic cousins had feet and legs amputated, and one died.
“What did the doctor recommend?” I asked.
“She prescribed some meds and told me to come in for a followup in a month."
“What? They can't see you until then?”
“A series of classes starts in six weeks. They cost $1,000, and they're not covered by insurance.”
That Day Started Our Journey
Sandy felt scared, confused, anxious and alone, and her mind was reeling with questions. I couldn’t believe that our hospital didn’t have a better plan to help her — and it made me mad.
That day started her journey to discover how to manage her diabetes, and it began my journey to figure out how to help patients like Sandy get the emotional support they need. I've spent a career helping many clients – especially in healthcare – market their services. Now I wanted to focus on helping hospitals AND their patients. That's the mission of Hive Strategies.
The Power of Online Patient Support Groups
That journey has lead me to the power of online patient support groups. Our hospital missed a big opportunity the day their doctor diagnosed Sandy with diabetes with no clear path to healing. Online support groups can connect patients with each other to provide the comfort and emotional support that so many need while they're going through difficult times. They can also introduce health experts, valuable resources and accurate information.
When hospitals and health systems sponsor these communities, the result is improved patient engagement, higher patient satisfaction, better patient outcomes and stronger patient loyalty that all lead to increased revenues.
There can be real Return on Investment (ROI) when you start and manage these communities correctly, but there is a right way and a wrong way to start, manage and grow a community.
Hive Strategies is here to help.
I’m Dan Hinmon, Sandy’s husband and president of Hive Strategies. I’ve spent my career in advertising, marketing and public relations with a focus on healthcare. I’ve worked as a hospital marketing director and managed my own agency since 1990. Six years ago I launched Hive Strategies to help patients connect with health systems, hospitals and clinics online. I’m also community director for the Mayo Clinic Social Media Network. Hive Strategies is here to help. Follow me on Twitter and LinkedIn.