Thursday, July 30, 2009

How Does This Best Practice Hospital Grade Out??

Children's Hospital Foundation in Washington D.C. ( is a best practice hospital in their utilization of social media tools. They are the top U.S. hospital on Twitter with 2,906 followers (@childrenshealth). On their facebook page, they have 1,666 fans. Certainly with these numbers of fans and followers they certainly have a solid "social capital" base of fans, followers, and friends.

Their website is excellent - with ways to financially support their mission, learn about events, and a great section dedicated to meeting children that they have cared for!

As the utilization of social media tools continue to evolve - I believe that the 2.0 version of social media will turn towards quantifying and measuring the "social capital" and "social effectiveness" of organizations and businesses that have adopted these tools. The hospital CFO mind in me wants to see a report/score card format for hospitals using social media tools.

It is very important for us to engage our communities by having tons of followers, friends, and fans. But as we move towards to social media 2.0, how are we capitalizing on our new online engaged communities? Are the friends, fans, and followers that we have really quality, local customers/patients? Are our social media efforts and initiatives translating into a stronger market share, more surgeries, outpatient revenue, and ultimately bottomline impact?

I am starting to work on a social media scorecard that will measure and track hospital and health system social media grades/scores. I believe that this scorecard will be very important for our business and we progress into a social media 2.0 world.

Children's Hospital Foundation's website has earned a grade of 76 out of 100 (according to - Here is a copy of their report -
As you will see - there are very specific areas that they can improve on with their website to maximize their excellent efforts in this area.

Their twitter efforts certainly show with a grade of 98.4 out of 100 - here is a copy of their report - - their follower/following history is excellent with a great growth of both on this chart

As mentioned above Children's Hospital has 1,666 fans on their facebook page - - they do a great job in presenting a "presurgical tour" online, interviews of their medical staff that appeared on CNN and even a visit by President Obama!

Great job - Children's Hospital Foundation for a solid scorecard and great use of social media tools!!

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

DIY or Outsource Your Hospital's Social Media Activities??

With the current low hospital and hospital association social media adoption rate - I would tend to conclude that there are multiple factors that are keeping this number low. Is it a cost issue? Is it a knowledge/awareness issue? Is it a time issue? We could speculate all night as to what the driving factors are behind this issue.

As I have documented in some recent posts, the issue for a hospital is not whether to adopt/implement these tools as much as it is who is going to become the "social media" champion within their organization.

Ok - so your CEO just came into your weekly administrative meeting and proclaimed that your hospital is going to become the next "social media superstar" within thirty days. What do you do? Do you take on the steep learning curve and spend the next 2-3 weeks learning how facebook, twitter, blogs, and Youtube work? Do you contact your marketing company to see if they know how do social media? Do you do a Google search for "outsource social media" companies?

According to a July 7, 2009 article by Lydia Dishman - - she states that "as the number of platforms grows, so does the time it takes to feed and groom each account. Not to mention the front-end investment of setting everything up". She also poses the question "for those caught up in a social media blitz - and those contemplating taking the plunge - why not consider outsourcing"?

If you are considering outsourcing your social media and are looking for an "expert" - I would recommend that you script your interview questions using Ian Lurie's "10 Questions to Evaluate a Social Media Expert" - - this is a very good place to start - as well as give you a basic idea of what to look for. The upside to outsourcing is that (in theory) you will be engaging a social media expert (no learning curve), quick implementation, cheaper than hiring a dedicated employee or a portion of an FTE, and they will be up to date with social media tool trends. The downside is that there is a lot of pressure to select the right firm out of many that claim they are "experts", lack of control, and the typical outsource management issues (i.e. performance, responsiveness..etc).

From the D.I.Y. (Do It Yourself) side of the ball - you can hire a person or people to take on your social media program - the advantages of this is that you will maintain direct control over the messages, your branding, and promotions. The downside is that you will have to deal with typical employee relations issues (i.e. sick/vacation time), cross training, steep learning curve, and large time commitment.

You can certainly make a very compelling case for either DIY or outsourcing your social media strategy. As with any strategic decision, make sure you do your homework before you choose your path.

Good luck with your selection! I look forward to seeing and reporting on your future successes!!

Monday, July 27, 2009

Does Your Website Get An "A"???

I know there is a lot of movement and excitement these days about social media and social networking - BUT we cannot forget about our websites. This may not be a very contemporary opinion in the web 2.0 world - but I believe that your website is the backbone of your hospital's online marketing efforts.

Your website should contain all of the who, what, where, when, and hows about your organization. What positions are available at your facility, who is on your medical staff (with pictures), where your clinics are, what services you provide, etc..etc...

There are many companies that will evaluate your website searching for consulting and redesign opportunities - and like anything else, they are trying to get into your wallet. They tend to throw around terms like "Google PageRank", "Inbound Links", "Traffic Rank", etc..etc..

While we can spend many hours dissecting and analyzing these various terms - and there are certainly many companies out there that will do that for you - I would certainly encourage you to get an understanding of how your website stacks up with your competitors.

Sure your pictures are pretty, you have a great logo, it is laid out well, all of the buttons work - this is functionality and asthtetics to me.

What is really important is "Are people finding your website?" - "Are they using all of the nice features you have set up? - "What sort of traffic is it generating?"

Below is a link to a report that I ran that compares two of my favorite hospital association websites - (Texas Hospital Association) and (Iowa Hospital Association). Both of these websites contain a lot of great information, both have solid social media utilization, and both look very professionally done.

As you will see - has a website grade of "85" as compared to with an "84" - both an excellent score and well deserving of being "gold standard" hospital association websites.

This comparison was run using service - I have no financial interest in this company - they do not charge for this service and there is no registration requirement.

The action step for your report would be to take this to your website designer and show them the data/information. I would make sure that they address whatever deficiencies are identified in your report. Hopefully they will be able to make the necessary changes, with the end result being a much more solid website that gets you more meaningful traffic and utilization.

Sunday, July 26, 2009

Hospital Association Social Media Update!

As a quick follow up from my posting a few days ago - I have identified four other hospital associations with Twitter accounts. They are:

  • Kentucky Hospital Association
  • Ohio Hospital Association
  • Healthcare Association of New York State
  • Mississippi Hospital Association
This brings the total hospital associations using social media tools up to a grand total of nine!

I applaud the efforts of these hospital associations for working hard to utilize these new tools and get their messages out to their members/followers/friends.

Great job the Hospital Association of Southern California, Texas Hospital Association, Iowa Hospital Association, Michigan Health & Hospital Association, Kentucky Hospital Association, Ohio Hospital Association, South Carolina Hospital Association, New Jersey Hospital Association, Mississippi Hospital Association, and the Healthcare Association of New York State for being the early adopters of social media!!

Friday, July 24, 2009

Hospital Associations Get an "F" in Social Media Use!!

What better way to spend a late Friday night than reviewing every hospital association and council in the U.S.?? Yes - this may sound a bit strange - but I have been extremely curious as to how our hospital associations are doing with adopting social media tools.

My review of social media use of our hospital associations results in an "F"!!

The winners are:
  • Hospital Association of Southern California - Has a blog
  • Texas Hospital Association - Has a Facebook page and a Twitter account
  • Iowa Hospital Association - Has a blog, Facebook page and a Twitter account
  • Michigan Health & Hospital Association - Has a blog, Facebook page and a Twitter account
  • South Carolina Hospital Association - Has a blog and a Twitter account
  • New Jersey Hospital Association - Has a blog
That is it folks - six hospital associations across the country are currently utilizing social media tools.

Another big disappointment is in the area of RSS feeds of hospital association press/media releases, where only nine hospital associations use this excellent communication technology.

I really do not understand the lack of adoption of social media tools by the hospital association industry. With the hospital and health care industry under constant scrutiny and attack from all sides, you would think that now would be the time to over communicate our hospital's efforts and results.

There has been an incredible movement towards transparency in health care. This movement is excellent and long overdue in our industry. Social media tools are an excellent way to communicate the many good things that our industry is doing on a daily basis. Every state hospital association has excellent quality, patient experience, clinical outcomes, and financial (pricing) data. Let's get this data out to the public using social media tools. Do not sit back and wait for a N.Y. Times, Wall Street Journal or local newspaper reporter to come knocking on your door wanting a quote on a story that he/she has already written about some public reportable data.

Better yet - how do we get this excellent information in the hands of our politicians and their constituents? On my personal Facebook and Twitter accounts I am friends with numerous state and federal politicians. I am continually sending them information regarding health care reform, "quality vs. quantity", etc. using these tools. Where else can you have a Saturday morning "chat" with your state senator than on Facebook or Twitter?

This is a call to action for our hospital associations - get with the program - we (hospitals) need you to adopt social media tools. We need the tremendous information that you gather and report on getting out via social media broadcast!

Thank you for listening - I will keep monitoring and reporting on this issue in the coming months. I will also make myself available to any and all hospital associations to help them adopt these excellent tools.

Why Aren't More Hospitals Using Social Media?

According to Ed Bennett's ( listing of U.S. hospitals in June 2009 - he found that only 297 of our country's 5,700 hospitals were using social media tools to augment their marketing and advertising.

As a hospital CFO that is very interested in growing our facility's topside revenue I simply do not understand this low adoption rate. I have been struggling internally with this question for a few weeks now and I believe that I have come up with a few underlying reasons why hospitals are NOT using these social media tools.

1. We do not have time to do social media? - Are you saying that your hospital is not interested in growing your market share and engaging your community in dialog? To me this makes absolutely no sense - social media tools are the exact kinds of tools that public relations and marketing folks should be using to help them do their jobs.

2. Our marketing plan is working very well! - If this is the case, great, congrats you have done a great job. Conventional marketing/advertising techniques are VERY important and you need to continue doing them. Social media tools simply enhance these techniques and methods. How? For example, you are spending $20k per year on your well-produced, professional TV ads. This is great if your audience just happens to be watching the channel/show at the specific time that your ad(s) run. Why not augment this by putting your TV advertisements on YouTube? Put links to it on your website, blog, facebook page, and broadcast thru Twitter. All of which costs nothing! Here is an example of what one rural, Iowa hospital does with their recent TV campaign promoting a new physician in their community -

3. Our administrative team does not believe in social media! - Present the business case for doing so, get your facts, drink the Kool Aid. The best part is that you do not even have to do anything to prepare a business case - Lee Aase ( from the Mayo Clinic has already done it for you. Simply review and present the below powerpoint presentation. Lee has done an excellent job of preparing the business case and documenting the successes that Mayo Clinic has had in their adoption of social media.

After your administrative team sees Lee's presentation I believe that they will be ready to enter the exciting world of Social Media.

With all of the attention on the health care industry and hospitals these days - I cannot imagine a more important time for our industry to step up and increase the level of engagement with our communities and improve our transparency. What better way to broadcast your quality indicators, HCAHPS results, new physicians, new services than to your engaged social media community!

Thursday, July 23, 2009

About Social Hospital

Social Hospital was founded by a hospital chief financial officer that sees tremendous value in the usage of social media tools to build relationships with the communities that we serve. I believe that this emerging technology will very soon become as much a part of our everyday business world as email is today.

I believe that we will be engaging conversations with our employees, medical staff, board members, patients, residents of the communities we serve, and other hospitals like we never have before.

News will be broadcast and received at the speed of technology.. Physicians will be engaging in conversations with their patients using twitter. Public relations folks will be communicating health fairs, events, blood drives to an engaged community of facebook friends. Administrators will no longer be the person that sits in the big corner office - they will be out front and center engaged in online dialog with those that they serve. Employees will no longer have to learn things on the back smoking dock or in the cafeteria.

With the push for health care transparency - what better way to become more transparent than with the use of social media tools at our hospitals??

Happy Communicating - John

Hospital Social Media List

One of the key people involved in the hospital social media industry is Ed Bennett ( & @edbennett). Ed works for the University of Maryland Medical System where he manages their websites.

Ed has done an excellent job of maintaining a listing of what U.S. hospitals are using social media tools. I believe he is working on an updated list as we type. As of his last update on June 15, 2009 - there were 297 U.S. hospitals using various forms of social media. 142 are on YouTube, 213 on Twitter, 109 on Facebook and 26 have blogs.

You can find his listing on his blog at ....

Many thanks to Ed for keeping close tabs on this emerging technology...

What Are The Top Followed Hospitals on Twitter?? - does a great job of following and reporting on the top twitter users. These users are sorted by "tags" or "industries". does an excellent job of following the hospital industry and showing what hospital has the most followers.
This is an excellent tool for the twitter administrator at your hospital to compare yourself with other hospitals in the "twitterverse". You can see the "tweets" of others, as well as the numbers of followers.

As of this writing - is following 114 hospitals. With the top hospital being @myhospital - which is a specialty hospital in Amman, Jordan - they have 5,680 followers! At this point in time @myhospital has more than double the number of twitter followers as any other hospital on

Rounding out the top 5 on their list is @childrenshealth with 2,907, @KHCC with 2,516, @khcf with 2,377 and @UMMC with 2,343.

This is a dynamic list that continually changes. Great information and an excellent source to see what other best practice twitter hospitals are doing.

What is the "Social Hospital Blog"??

In the 1980's it was "General Hospital" - with all of the drama, weddings, Luke/Laura, etc... Today it is the "Social Hospital"...

The Social Hospital Blog is your source for best practices in how hospitals are using the various social media tools available to them. There are hundreds of hospitals currently using social media tools to promote themselves. These tools range from basic websites to blogs to facebook to twitter, etc..etc...

What is working and what is not working?? What can be learned from other industries?? What is hospital A doing that hospitals B & C can pick up on and implement at their facilities??

As the emerging technology of social media continues to become more mainstream and hospitals continue to adopt these tools - I believe the effect on the hospital industry will be viral in nature.
With the many very smart and creative marketing types in the hospital business - there already are many fine examples of work being done in the social media environment. I believe that we are just scratching the surface.. sit back and hold on.. because I believe that this will be a very wild and exciting ride!!

This is the mission of the Social Hospital Blog...