Everyday Blessings: 4 Lessons I've Learned from Interviewing in Healthcare Marketing

Interviewing

By Liz Paulson, Copywriter

My journalism career was over before it began. In 2002 as the associate news editor for the Boston College newspaper, I was assigned the task of reaching out to families of the BC alums who had died in the 9/11 attacks for the first anniversary of the tragedy. The paper was going to do a spread on it.

"Ask them to tell us what their kid liked about BC," instructed the managing editor.

"How do I know if I have the right family?" I asked.

"Ask them if they're missing anyone this time of year," the managing editor snickered.

I nodded. And then I spent the next week ignoring the assignment, yet thinking about it constantly. Who was I, a 20 year-old girl from Wisconsin, to call up grieving parents and ask them if their dead child had fond memories of tailgating at football games or throwing keggers in the Mods?

It didn't take my swift and subsequent dismissal from the newspaper staff to tell me what I already knew: I didn't have the stomach to be a journalist.

So, a decade and a half later, I was a little apprehensive about just one part of my new job at Legato: interviewing people who have suffered or faced challenges I knew nothing about for the publications that we help clients produce.

But, lucky for me, everyone I get to talk to for my job actually wants to talk to me. They want to share their stories of triumphing over an unlucky blow to their health. I also get to speak with featured hospital employees for each publication. They are always so gracious and pleased to share with me how much they love what they do. It's now my favorite part of my job: talking to regular people who have amazing attitudes and plenty of life experience to share.

Although it may not always make it into their articles, I've made it a habit to ask everyone I speak with what their secret is. If they're in love with their job, I ask why. If they're still happily married after 60 years, I ask how. If they have every right to be really mad at life for the situation they're in, but aren't, I ask why not. Here are some of my all-time favorite "secrets to life":

A woman who has been married for almost sixty years, whose husband takes her hand wherever they go, even if it's to cardiac rehab, told me this:

"Treat your husband like a flower. If you yell and berate the flower, it will wither and die. If you lavish love and sunshine on the flower, it will thrive and bloom for you."

 

The gentleman who was the oldest resident at his nursing home said faith was key:

"I can do all things though Christ," he said. "I try to be a blessing to others because the Lord has blessed me."

A nurse who works in the emergency room of a critical access hospital said that it was easy to have a good attitude at her job:

"Every day I see firsthand that every day is a gift. How could I possibly be negative when I know that life is so fragile and precious? I'm blessed to be able to do the work that I do."

The head housekeeper at a hospital admitted that changing linens wasn't the most glamorous part of her job, but that it was her privilege to interact with the patients:

"We might be the only people a patient sees all day who isn't there to poke them or give them bad news. It's our duty to do whatever we can to make their experience as comforting and comfortable as possible."

I have yet to speak to a bitter elderly person. I have yet to hear a featured staff member complain. I don't think it's a coincidence. I am convinced you don't get to be old if you don't have the good sense and the good humor to be grateful for your time on earth. And you don't become an outstanding employee by complaining about problems. You do so by solving them.

I'm so glad I never became a proper journalist. I know I'll never win a Pulitzer for the work I do on hospital publications, but I'm really, really proud of it. I have the honor of telling the remarkable stories of everyday people-people who, even though they may never get a better 15 minutes of fame than having their pictures printed in a local publication, have as much to teach the world as anyone on the cover of Time or the homepage of The Wall Street Journal. Maybe even more so.

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How to Create the Right Mix of Content to Share on your Hospital's Social Media

How to Create the Right Mix of Content to Share on Social MediaBy Chelsea Rank, Account Coordinator

In any social media strategy, content reigns as the most important influencer of audience engagement. In the healthcare marketing realm, the content your organization shares should reflect multiple different areas, without blatant self-promotion. I recently read the book Renegades Write the Rules, and thought the author, Amy Jo Martin, had some great points. In particular, she offered six different value buckets of content to use when leveraging social media to enhance your brand.

Educating posts teach your audience something new about the healthcare marketing industry:

  • Industry news
  • Industry legislation

Entertaining material includes lighter posts that spark interactivity with the audience:

  • Holiday posts
  • Contests

Inspiring content is encouraging or positive:

  • Community/charity events
  • Patient testimonials/patient stories

Exclusive posts show anything your audience doesn't have immediate access to in your company:

  • Behind-the-scenes videos
  • Virtual tours

Informative content includes branded information about your company:

  • Company awards
  • News releases

Reciprocation encompasses responding to your audience online:

  • Addressing comments
  • Answering questions

Your posts should reflect an equal balance between these categories.

A strategic principle of creating social media content is ensuring that posts are category-apportioned, meaning you are varying categories of content to create the right mix. Too few categories tell your audience that you offer little variety. Too many categories give off the impression that your organization's messaging is unfocused. Resources should be allocated across channels.

Develop a content mix review whether you're just getting started with social media to build your brand, you're already established on social media but are looking to improve your strategy, or you're just curious about the impact your content is making. I suggest keeping a log of previous posts and shares across your social media channels and grouping them into the six content categories. Take notice of any patterns that emerge. Also keep in mind the posts that generate the most audience interaction, and if any of these posts fall in the same content category.

Paying close attention to social media content will allow you to isolate effective strategies and shift your approach accordingly. You can then make decisions based on what produces results, rather than guessing what might work. Remembering the six content categories will allow you to create a rock-solid social media plan, revealing important patterns that lead to significant insight.

When it comes to digital marketing, social media is just one piece of the puzzle. If you are ready to improve your digital efforts and ensure all stategies are working together, download our e-book:
How to Focus Your Digital Strategy: 6 Steps to Creating a Patient Persona.

It will take you through how to:
-Create a patient persona specific to healthcare
-Find reliable research resources you can use to make data-driven decisions
-Do it on a budget

Download E-Book

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How Your Hospital Should Be Using Social Media

How Your Hospital Should Be Using Social Media

By Aaron Wagner, Account Executive

Whether you are a one-person show or part of a marketing team, there is always pressure from the senior executives and boards to "use social media." The tricky part is figuring out what social media channels to use and how to use each of them to benefit your hospital.

Believe it or not the answer isn't to use all of the social media channels or to post the same type of content on various channels. Identifying what you want to accomplish with each channel will help you stay on track with your hospital's social media goals and maximize your marketing efficiency.

Facebook. This is going to be your biggest audience and chance to make a great impact. Hospital's Facebook pages are becoming an extension of its website. Most facilities will post anything relevant to their Facebook page. Posts about events, new physicians, health articles, and updates about the hospital and the surrounding community are excellent subjects. It's a simple way to post content and updates quickly. Every hospital should have a Facebook page to better connect with its patients and the community.

Twitter. Hospitals shouldn't have a Twitter account unless they have a clear strategy and purpose for an account and can project a large enough following that warrants the time invested into the account. The best way for hospitals to utilize Twitter is to tease. With only 140 characters to make an impact, think of Twitter as an approach to get followers to your blog, website, or event page. Tease, "The 5 things you don't know about…" and have it link to the hospital blog. In the event of a crisis - depending on hospital size - Twitter might be useful to provide quick updates to the public.

Instagram. One of the most popular apps that continues to grow, but is there a reason a hospital should have one? Not necessarily. For smaller hospitals there's not a great need to have one. However, if you are part of a large hospital or system you should use Instagram as a way to connect with the community through photos. Photos should all be feel good - hospital events, fundraisers, volunteer work, staff etc. Perhaps create an Instagram cardboard cutout that people can take pictures with and use with a certain hashtag to encourage participation.

Snapchat. While it's the fastest growing app that continues to improve and evolve it's not a necessity. Snapchat could be a good resource for a larger hospital but would have to be done right for a smaller hospital to use it. Using Snapchat for events - run/walks, fundraisers, Foundation, etc. is a fun way to get those at the event to participate. Larger hospitals could have various doctors, therapists, and staff members "take over" the hospitals Snapchat for a "day in the life of" segments.

Pinterest. There are two main things that hospitals should use Pinterest for: food and exercise. Have your team of dieticians find healthy recipes to pin to the hospitals "Healthy Desserts" or "Healthy Breakfasts" boards. Encourage trainers and physical therapists to provide input on exercise ideas on how to lose weight, build strength, etc. and post those pins to the "Workout" or "Running" board.

The five apps above are great channels to connect with your patients and the community. If you decide to use more than one, make sure that you are "cross-apping." Share the Instagram photo to your Facebook page. Encourage your Facebook fans to follow you on Twitter. Post a blog recapping an event and tease it on your Instagram account. Or share a healthy recipe pin and link it to your website where you have other healthy recipes for visitors to check out.

Don't get overwhelmed! Unless you have a large social media team, start by mastering Facebook first. Then venture into Twitter, Instagram and the other apps. Consider forming a social media team of those who know how to use social media so you can venture into the various apps that make sense for your hospital. Social media can seem daunting, but the savvy marketer can master it with little trouble and start boosting a hospital's presence online.

When it comes to digital marketing, social media is just one piece of the puzzle. If you are ready to improve your digital efforts and ensure all stategies are working together, download our e-book:
How to Focus Your Digital Strategy: 6 Steps to Creating a Patient Persona.

It will take you through how to:
-Create a patient persona specific to healthcare
-Find reliable research resources you can use to make data-driven decisions
-Do it on a budget

Download E-Book

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Myths in Rural Healthcare: No One's Online in Rural Markets

Myths Rural Healthcare No Ones Online in Rural Markets

A major part of my job is developing marketing plans for our clients. It's a comprehensive schedule of tactics including all the ways we plan to reach our targets. And frequently, it includes digital and online components. As hard as it is to believe in 2016, an objection I still hear quite often from marketing managers and CEOs alike is that the people in their community aren't online.

This is a common misperception. They are. With the advent of smartphones and tablets, the Internet is more widely accessible than ever. Plus, more and more counties and smaller communities are getting Wi-Fi grants for their residents. Factors such as cell towers and proximity to cities matter less and less when it comes to online access. Let's look at some numbers:

  • 88.5% of the population in the United States is online.
  • 83% of people in rural communities are online.
  • 76% of Internet users search online for health information.
  • 52% of smartphone users search for health information on their phones.

At the most, 17% of people in rural communities aren't online. Dismissing an opportunity to connect with your audience because they may be part of that minority is unwise to say the least. So don't let old ideas keep you from being successful with new ones. Your patient population is much more connected than you may think. Digital and online marketing is a great way to reach them. Whether it's with an aggressive Google adwords push, fun and engaging Facebook content, informative blog posts, or enticing content offers, there are touch points at every turn for connecting with your audience.

So when you think rural healthcare marketing, think online. The platforms are there. Prospective patients are there. Your healthcare organization should be there too.

If you are ready to start building your brand's digital strategy, but are not sure where to start, download our presentation: "Rural Healthcare Marketing in a Digital World." Learn how to:

  • Control the message through your website content
  • Manage your brand on social media
  • Protect your reputation on review sites

We'll take you step by step to ensure you have a solid foundation-and the support you need-for taking your healthcare marketing online.

If you're ready to start building your brand's digital strategy, but are not sure where to start, download our presentation: Rural Healthcare Marketing in a Digital World.

Learn how to:
•  Control the message through your website content
•  Manage your brand on social media
•  Protect your reputation on review sites

We'll take you step by step to ensure you have a solid foundation--and the support you need--for taking your healthcare marketing online.

Download Free Guide

 

 

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Myths in Rural Healthcare: Rural Hospitals are a Thing of the Past

Critical Access Hospitals Are A Thing Of The Past

It's a changing world out there. Ask any rural hospital administrator. It seems like every day there's another story about a rural hospital being forced to close its doors. So it's easy to understand why the impulse for some is to just sit back and let the inevitable happen.

But it doesn't have to be that way. In fact, it's one of the healthcare industry's biggest myths: that rural hospitals are a dying breed. I take issue with that notion. Rural hospitals are just like any other business in any other industry: they're fighting for their share in a competitive market. And, like any other business in any other industry, some do it with more success than others.

Here's how the smart ones stay successful:

They develop a marketing plan. All this doom and gloom talk could be a crutch, your excuse to stop trying. We don't see it that way. With challenge comes opportunities. Start by marketing like a big city hospital. Evaluate what your strengths and weaknesses are. Take the pulse of the community you serve. What is their opinion of your facility? Do they even know all the services you offer? Then, explore areas of innovation and expansion. Take action, and then promote it. Marketing gets the word out and alerts potential and present patients to the exciting changes going on at your hospital.

Offer more and embrace technology. There's no better example of a rural hospital that I can think of facing the challenge head on than Barrett Hospital and Healthcare in Dillon, Montana. An institution since 1922, they moved into a beautiful state-of-the-art facility that feels like a five-star ski lodge in 2012. They've made great strides in expanding their services and have welcomed technological advances to more efficiently serve their patients. These are substantial investments, but for Barrett, they have paid off.

"Since moving into our new hospital, we've continued to work hard to expand services and improve access to healthcare to all we serve," says Ken Westman, CEO of Barrett Hospital and HealthCare. "And we will continue to look at opportunities to grow our services to meet the needs of the communities we serve."

This attitude helped earn Barrett Hospital and Healthcare accolades as an iVantage Top 100 Critical Access Hospital in 2011, 2013, 2014 and 2015 and a 2015 National Rural Health Association Top 20 Critical Access Hospital.

Take heart. The situation isn't as dire as some of those doomsday folks might have you believe. Take heart, and then take action. Success is out there for those who know where to find it.

Still uncertain about how your rural health facility can compete with larger systems?

Our NRHA webinar--Increase Revenue In Your Sleep--discusses how establishing partnerships and relationships can lead to an increase in:
•  Revenue
•  Patient volumes
•  Number of service lines

Download Webinar

 

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4 Things to Include in Your Critical Access Hospital’s Social Media Policy

A negative review. A bad comment. An inappropriate post. These are all reasons why many healthcare organizations are reluctant to become too active on social media. Because nobody can control everything that is being said.

However, since social media is such a large part of people's everyday lives - and a tool many use to make buying decisions - your healthcare facility can't afford not to be active. That's why it's important to have a comprehensive social media policy that everyone in your facility is familiar with.

A written policy can protect both your facility and your employees. Here are four important components that your policy should include:

1. An online employee code of conduct and potential disciplinary measures for violations of the code of conduct.

Examples:

  • Employees can associate themselves with the facility online, but must make it clear that their opinions are personal and do not represent the facility.
  • Employees cannot share sensitive or confidential information, especially in relation to patient care.

2. Employee social media usage guidelines.

Examples:

  • Only members of the marketing department or designated social media team can post on the facility's social media channels.
  • Personal social media use cannot disrupt workplace productivity or performance level.

3. The approval process for online content.

  • Outline who has final approval of online content that directly represents the facility.
  • List who in the facility is approved to post content on behalf of the facility.

4. A crisis management plan.

  • Clearly identify who in the organization should be notified regarding a negative or inappropriate social media post, who will respond to the post and what potential responses are.

Once your social media policy is created and approved, the next step is ensuring all employees are aware of the new policy. A good way to do this is by including it in the employee handbook and/or employment agreement.

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How Your Critical Access Hospital can Effectively Promote New Services

Features Versus Benefits: What will stick in the minds of patients?

So one of your doctors just started offering a new procedure that uses a new innovative method. Or maybe, your imaging department just purchased a new CT scanner. Now, it's your job to create an ad promoting these new services.

As you approach this task, remember that focusing on the technology or the technique may not be the most effective method. Patients and potential patients aren't familiar with clinical or technical jargon; therefore, they won't understand - or relate to - an ad that focuses on clinical and technical features of a service or piece of equipment. They also won't want to see a picture of a joint implant or new surgical laser. Instead, you need to show patients how the features actually benefit them and their quality of life. (See a benefits-oriented orthopedic campaign here.)

For example:

  • Your doctor's new surgery is a minimally invasive, outpatient procedure. To a patient this means smaller scars, less time at the hospital and more quickly returning to everyday life.
  • Your new CT scanner allows for a quicker and more accurate scan while using less radiation. To a patient this means increased safety and convenience.

Follow a Real Success Story
See how one critical access hospital promoted a new knee replacement technique in a way that resonated with patients - and the significant increase in volumes that followed the campaign.

Download our free case study

 

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Why the Patient Experience Starts with Your Employees

Register now to see a new trend in employee satisfaction.

The patient experience. It's what every healthcare marketer wants to portray and what every healthcare facility wants to improve.

But how do you ensure that the positive experience you sell in an ad is what patients will actually receive when they come to you for care?

It all starts with your employees.

One of the trends we've seen for improving employee satisfaction - and therefore, the patient experience - is through online staff education. Between patient safety, HIPAA compliance, regulatory trainings and continuing education requirements, your staff is probably spending a lot of time on education. With an online learning system, this education becomes more efficient as it can be done anywhere, at any time. Meaning your staff can focus more on patient care.

Attend an upcoming NRHA webinar to learn how one of our clients - Edgerton Hospital and Health Services - selected an online education system that not only lead to significant improvements in their Press Ganey Scores, but also reduced their annual education costs by more than $16,000.

Rural Solutions to Online Education:
Selecting a system that helps your bottom line
December 15 | Noon (CST)
Register today!

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Three Definitions to Help You Understand Content Marketing

From infographics to eBooks and blog posts, these are things healthcare consumers are using more and more to learn about healthcare topics and make healthcare decisions. Why? Because of the rise of content marketing.

So what is it exactly? Like many new buzzwords in the marketing industry, content marketing means slightly different things to different people. Here are a few definitions:

"Content marketing is a strategic marketing approached focused on creating and distributing valuable, relevant and consistent content to attract and retain a clearly-defined audience-and, ultimately, to drive profitable customer action."

-Content Marketing Institute

"Content marketing is a way of engaging and attracting existing and potential customers through content creation…it's personal, engaging and tells stories."

-Dan Bergeron, Likeable Media

"Content marketing provides consumers with useful information to aid purchase decisions, improve product usage and entertain them while achieving organizational goals without being overtly promotional."

-Heidi Cohen, Riverside Marketing Strategies

Interested in learning more? There's still time to register for our webinar on December 8. This educational webinar, presented through the National Rural Health Association, will further define what content marketing is and demonstrate why it's important for rural healthcare marketers to add it to their overall marketing strategy.

Content Marketing 101: Understanding Marketing's Biggest Buzz Word
December 8 | 12 pm (CST)

Register Now!

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Community Paramedicine: An emerging care model

From 2000 to 2010, emergency department visits increased 20 percent - from 108 million to 129 million - according to a 2013 report from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation.

In 2009, 45 percent of Medicare beneficiaries arriving at hospitals by ambulance were never admitted to the hospital, but they still cost the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services $1.98 billion.

Emergency department (ED) overuse and misuse are major problems that not only lead to higher healthcare costs (and readmission penalties under health care reform), but also longer wait times and lower patient satisfaction.

Some hospitals have tried educating consumers about the importance of primary care and appropriate use of urgent and emergency care. But as long as the ED remains a safety net for people - a place they can go for convenient care, emergency or not - ED misuse will continue.

However, there is an emerging care model that hospitals and health systems can implement to help alleviate overcrowded EDs: community paramedicine.

Community paramedicine, also known as mobile integrated health care-community paramedicine (MIH-CP), uses local emergency medicine technicians and paramedics to provide services outside of their traditional emergency response and transport roles. It shifts emergency medical services from being solely reactive to incorporating proactive measures that ensure the most efficient use of the EDs - all to reduce inappropriate use of local emergency care resources and improve the overall health of communities.

The full article is featured on H&HN Daily. Click to read on and learn about the different models of MIH-CP and additional benefits of implementing a program.

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