Archive for the 'Hospital' Category


Top Ten Things We Learned at SHSMD 2012

Attendees of SHSMD2012 are back at their home locations plotting a return to Chicago in 2013, attempting to sync their Poken and wondering if they missed anything from Saturday morning’s keynote, Thomas Goetz (he only spoke to about 20% of the audience Ari Fleisher had on Thursday). While everyone will have their personal take-aways, Tracy Weise, Jay Weise and I developed a top ten list of things we learned in Philadelphia.

1. Hospitals and all medical facilities are overturning every rock for ideas, actionable plans to reduce readmission rates. The most effective tactic so far is educating the family of a patient and allowing the pressure of a loved one to encourage post-hospital stay behavior.

2. Awesome description of the difference between the nuance of healthcare system and service line marketing: The healthcare system branding creates a promise, the service line marketing delivers on the promise created.

3. The overwhelming majority of attendees were unconcerned about outcome of Presidential election as it relates to healthcare reform. Some things are in place and will stay in place; other things will change regardless of who wins.

4. Acceptance of the “must do” strategies in the American Hospital Association report:

    • Increase Hospital-Physician alignment
    • Improve the quality of patient safety
    • Make advancements in hospital efficiency
    • Develop an integrated information system

5. In a session that included an interactive questionnaire, Lack of strategy, lack of time and lack of staff were the biggest reasons offered for not implementing a robust social media plan. However, an argument can be made that there is still a lack of knowledge about social media in the healthcare marketing community.

    • Only 1.1% of the 1,300 SHSMD2012 attendees checked into the SHSMD 2012 Conference using the location based social media platform foursquare
    • Only 6.2% of the attendees tweeted using the hashtag ‘#SHSMD12

This begs the question, why are healthcare marketing experts reluctant to embrace an important ‘patient experience’ tool?

6. Web 2.0 and social media are working for patient acquisition: There were two case studies, Mayo Clinic and Cincinnati Children’s Hospital with tangible results and the programs were replicable.

7. It is massively important to incorporate a disciplined planning approach to service lines prior to budget season, otherwise you’ll budget before you plan and back into the programs you can afford. At the same time you must engage physicians in the planning process and they must see action otherwise you’ll never get buy-in in future years.

8. Nobody really knows what the ACO landscape will look like, if any so called expert tells you otherwise, they don’t know what they are talking about. They may fool you, but don’t let them make a fool out of you.

9. The quantitative data to effectively manage your medical facility is available, be sure to incorporate qualitative data from physicians to complete the story.  Be sure to deep dive into data analysis if the results are contrary to the generally held opinions of hospital leadership, otherwise you have an uphill battle trying to change minds.

10. Best Quotes from SHSMD2012 – if you said any of these, you know who you are:

    • Overheard at the end of concurrent sessions on day 1: “I am ready to nap dangerously.”
    • In a session when the presenter was making a transition from social media to anal reconstruction surgery, “Before we dive into bowel movements…”
    • In a session responding to a question about strategies, objectives and tactics: “People have a harder time with strategies because they are squishy.”
    • In the exhibit hall, “Hospitals are concerned about patient tracking after they leave the hospital, but why has the term out migration been replaced with leakage.”

Want to find out more about what we learned at SHSMD 2012? Give us a call. Want to add to this list, share your thoughts here or on Facebook at Weise Communications and follow us on Twitter at @Weise_Ideas.


You Want to Put Your Mouth On My What? Communication Principles in Practice at Your Hospital.

At the Side Note Blog we can’t really let a nipple sucking doctor get by without comment, now can we?

The story is rather offensive. A 20-year-old woman went to the doctor for a breast exam because of fluid seeping from her breast. The male doctor decided to “diagnose” the fluid seepage by obtaining permission to suck  her breast. Yes, he sucked on her breast. Unfortunately the Finnish court let the doctor off of sexual solicitation charges brought by the patient because the doctor  asked and obtained permission from the patient to suck on her breast.

Are you kidding me?

What was the patient supposed to say?

I am sure her “permission” sounded something like “uh… uh huh?”

I never went to medical school, but even I can come up with numerous ways of extracting a bodily fluid for testing that does not include anything unhygienic or overtly sexual.

I think it’s time to send med students and physicians back to school for additional communication courses. We are taught from a very young age to trust physicians. To do what they tell us to do. When they prescribe a medicine, we take it. When they order a test, we get it. A 20-year-old women worried about her health, seeking the advice of a physician, probably didn’t know HOW to respond to the physician’s offensive request.

I have had the pleasure to work with many wonderful physicians over the years. They all know that they leverage power over their patients. The good ones don’t abuse that power. The good physicians embrace this power and use it to inspire hope, increase confidence and decrease fear.

What are your physicians saying to their patients? How does their power of persuasion impact the healthcare provided by your institution? And what communication training do you use to ensure there is no offensive behavior at your organization? Tell us your stories here.


How can social media help your patients, not just your hospital?

A lot of space has been filled on The Side Note with information about how hospitals can use social media to help the help grow business, improve community relations, prepare for a crisis and provide general health information. In fact, many hospitals are embracing the use of social media to fill these particular communication needs. But, what about the patients?

Because we have a general policy of not writing about agency work on this blog, full disclosure is required for this posting. Weise Communications was involved in promoting the story I am referencing.  While we worked with the media to get the story placed, we were not involved in the social media outreach I am referring to.

The 7 News, Denver’s local ABC affiliate recently ran the story, “Doctor, Facebook Give Hope to Sick Ethiopian Teen. It is a heart-warming story about a physician, Dr. Paul Sakiewicz, at The Medical Center of Aurora who stepped up to provide charity care for an Ethiopian teenager sure to die without kidney therapy and ultimately a kidney transplant. It is a beautiful story that crosses countries, languages and boundaries.

But here is the kicker. A potential kidney donor was found through the use of Facebook. According to 7News:

“Sakiewicz said Haile’s kidneys are now functioning at just 6 percent, which means she’ll need a transplant. And like most teenagers, she uses the social media site Facebook, where she made a plea for help. Her post reads: ‘Hey everyone, as many of you already know, I’m in search of someone whose blood type matches mine who’s willing to give me a kidney.’

And surprisingly, a single mother from San Diego responded [a friend of a Facebook friend], indicating that she had the same blood type … and would be willing to donate a kidney if she was a match.”

This comment struck me. Many of us, those of us that maintain a skeptical and cautious view of the world and those around us, would see a posting like this on Facebook and immediately recall the dozens of scam emails we received over the years about someone in desperate need of money or medical assistance. But from a positive perspective, this time a life may TRULY be saved.

Can hospitals harness the power of social media to make a difference in the lives of their patients? Requesting organ donations is probably way out of the scope of anything many hospitals would be willing to consider (although organization such as the Donor Alliance or Bonfils might want to look into this option if they are not already), but there must appropriate tactics that fall within hospitals’ scope of services to help patients.

It is time to consider looking past Twittering the locations of the mobile mammogram vans or the dates of the blood drives and health fairs or your ER wait times.What can your hospital do to truly make a difference in the lives of your patients? Is your hospital, healthcare organization or association doing something that is truly unique? Tell all of us about it here.


7 Tips on How Health Care Companies Can Connect with Women Through Social Media

Women are often the caretakers in households. They usually decide when kids and husbands need to go see the doctor.  They decide what cough and cold medicine to take or what remedy will cure that ouchy. Women are increasingly important for health care communicators to get on their side and have them become brand-ambassadors for the company.

So, how do you get their attention? Through social media. Women have firmly established their presence in social media, and account for the majority of users on many popular sites, like Facebook and Twitter. Companies looking to reach women — whether as consumers, entrepreneurs, employees, or advocates — have an unprecedented opportunity to engage them through social media.

But how do you connect with these women? Use these helpful tips:

  1. Formulate a social media strategy to reach women, including new moms
    Start by researching the specific type of woman you are trying to reach where this demographic is specific to social media. Next, develop an outreach plan and messaging.
  2. Develop messages that speak to your target audience
    You should prepare messaging about the company, its goals and purpose as well as specific messages on each of your products, services and audiences. Test messages with groups of women to ensure effectiveness.
  3. Find online communities for women, or start one at your company
    Communities within existing social media, like Facebook groups, are a great place to talk to women and mothers. Also, consider starting a social media space all your own. Invite customers to talk to one another and build a community around your company.
  4. Start a Twitter feed geared to women
    Twitter is a great way to share content about your company and a great space to monitor conversations happening in areas of interest.
  5. Converse with mommy bloggers, work to understand their needs
    Mommy bloggers are out there talking about every conceivable health care topic. Just check out Locate the ones in your area and work to understand how they feel about your area of health care. Address their needs and then tell them how you help solve their issues.
  6. Publicize your hospital’s women-oriented events via social media
    Many social media tools allow publicizing of events. Load your events in the social media sites you participate in and invite women to attend.
  7. Integrate offline strategies to expand your social network for women
    Making sure the people you are reaching out to online know about your off-line efforts and invite women at off-line events to join you online. This will increase the value of your marketing dollars.

Using these strategies will help your health care company connect with a key demographic in an energetic and exciting space. It will help you demonstrate your company’s benefits and help you build relationships with women in social media.

Other resources worth reading:

10 Musts for Marketing to Women on Facebook
HOW TO: Attract and Engage Social Media Moms
Reaching Women via Social Media


Celebrate After a Crisis

Another great lesson learned from SHSMD 2009:

In June 2008, Cedar Rapids, Iowa, was overcome with a devastating flood. Mercy Medical Center, in the heart of Cedar Rapids, did not escape without significant damage. The flood was a crisis for the city, residents, hospital, hospital staff and patients. There were many things the hospital staff did right and did well during the crisis and immediately after the two-week cleanup. But what I like most about their advertising and marketing is what they did a year a later, after the crisis was over and things were back to normal.

A year later, the time had come to celebrate all the wonderful things, some big and some small, that had happened at the hospital since the flood. I like this program because it brings the hospital together and recognizes that it truly takes the entire team to run a hospital when there is a crisis … and when there isn’t. The campaign also recognizes that the community is a huge part of the hospital’s success and was a huge part of the hospital’s survival during the flood.

The THRE3 6IXTY 5IVE campaign is a a sample of 365 great things that happened at Mercy in the 365 days since the devastating flood. Here are a few: Picture 2
#179 “Commitment to Community” fundraising campaign exceeds $184,000 goal
#183 Mock patient room created to focus on patient safety
#235 Mercy joins Twitter to provide electronic updates online
#241 Mercy pilots the upgrade of IV pumps to smart pumps
#247 All materials from demolition of the Family Practice Center were recycled

THRE3 6IXTY 5IVE shows that even though sometimes you need to mark the anniversary of a crisis, you can do it by recognizing the good things that have happened instead of remembering all of the bad things. It’s the best way to celebrate after a crisis.


Heading to Orlando: Society for Healthcare Strategy and Market Development (SHSMD) 2009

Wednesday is the start of SHSMD 2009. While not exhibiting this year, I will be attending as a participant. I am looking forward to hearing speakers Bert Jacobs, founder of Life is Good ® and my new favorite speaker, Steve McKee, author of “When Growth Stalls.”

Picture 15I’ll be attending sessions about hospital development and physician relations as well as participating in discussions about healthcare marketing and public relations practices. I am sure I will discover some new best practices and gain more insight into what is going on around the country marketing-wise in urban and rural hospitals.  I will be blogging about my experiences and tweeting from @tracyweise important updates from the conference. Be sure to stay tuned to get the overview from SHSMD 2009.

If you are attending SHSMD, let me know so we can grab a drink and chat about the new guiding principles in healthcare communications and swap our best practice stories. I am looking forward to seeing old friends and meeting new ones.

For those of you more familiar with Orlando, how about some travel assistance?

1. What is your favorite place to visit in Orlando? (you can’t say Disney World!)

2. Where is a great place to pick up Orlando souvenirs for my staff? (you can’t say Disney World!)

3. Is there anything to do in Orlando besides visit Disney World?

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