Today most hospitals have a social media presence of some kind, but there are a few standout organizations capitalizing on the value of Facebook, Twitter and other outlets. Here’s how they are doing it:
- Distributing important messages and warnings to the masses. This year, many hospitals are using Facebook and Twitter to educate the public on risks associated with the flu. Social media has served as a hub of information for vaccination locations, vaccination safety, prevention tips and treatment advice. One example is this video by Penn Medicine, featuring Lori Noble, M.D. that addresses the flu shot: fact vs. fiction. A second post by AMITA Health gives followers directives for what to do if they get sick.
- Addressing concerns quickly. Most hospitals have someone monitoring their social media feeds regularly and responding within hours or even minutes. For patients who have a concern, this can be a way to speak to someone at the hospital immediately. Houston Methodist replied to a follower’s request, within minutes, with contact information, and “Sandra” signed her name as a way to let the follower know there’s a real person behind the message.
- Expressing mission/values through patient stories. Hospitals are using videos and patient testimonials to capture and express their mission and values. This video of a successful lung transplant patient taking her first breath at Mayo Clinic went viral. In the background, you can hear the attending physician proclaiming: “these are the days I love myjob!” This video is much more powerful than a canned statement written by the hospital’s marketing department.
And you might recall Jimmy Kimmel speaking about his family’s experience at Children’s Hospital Los Angeles. The hospital shared his story via Facebook and Twitter as a way to show their dedication to giving children access to quality care regardless of their family’s social status or ability to pay.
- Providing access to physicians (Facebook Live events, Q&A Sessions.) Many people have questions about their heart health, but may not have access to a cardiologist. Cleveland Clinic makes physicians accessible through Facebook Live events like this one on heart health with Cardiologist Steven Nissen, M.D. Similarly, Houston Methodist promotes free heart screenings online and hosts Facebook Live Q&A sessions on topics like Women’s Heart Health.
- Providing resources for a healthy lifestyle (recipes, easy exercises, stress reduction tips) Hospitals can be a resource for promoting healthy living. Cleveland Clinic often posts mouth-watering recipes like this one for Curried Squash and Sweet Potato Soup that is both nutritious and delicious. Followers who find valuable information on a hospital’s social media page are more likely to return and engage with them regularly.
- Praising employees and boosting team morale. Everyone loves to hear they’re appreciated at work. Baycare’s St. Joseph’s Hospital uses social media to recognize standout staff like Laboratory Medical Technologist Diane who knits hats for the hospital’s newborn babies on her break.
How does your hospital use social media effectively? What challenges have you faced? We’d love to hear your thoughts around this topic.