As the grey squirrels frolicked in the trees above and a soothing breeze gently rocked my hammock, I pondered a possible scenario for social media in health care.
I envisioned a lively blog, with super-interesting posts from healthcare leaders. Doctors, nurses, psychologists, therapists, nutritionists and others shared their wisdom on a variety of timely topics. They helped people understand the most compelling — and often complex — issues of our time. They spoke about everything from how to make healthcare more affordable to steps you can take to prevent serious health problems. They kept a pulse on hot topics and made valuable contributions to the conversation.
In addition to the written word, they communicated via concise videos on a YouTube channel. They got to the point quickly for those who only had a minute or two to spare to absorb the information.
The blog posts and channel videos appeared on a regular schedule planned in advance.
Audiences came to look forward to the posts. They subscribed for alerts so they wouldn’t miss the week’s or month’s newest addition. They liked Facebook and LinkedIn pages and followed Twitter accounts tied to the blog and channel. They shared posts with their friends and followers because the info was too good to keep to themselves.
Over time, they developed connections with the experts. They asked them questions on their blogs and video channels, as well as live online chats, Google+ hangouts and webinars that followed. They began to see them speak on TV and radio. They went to see them speak in person.
They felt a deep connection. They wanted to turn to them when health questions or challenges occurred.
Behind the scenes, a social media strategist worked with a team of writers, videographers, web developers and graphic designers to help the experts polish up their content. The strategist developed an editorial calendar and measured views and interactions. As time went on, the strategist tracked visits to landing pages on websites and conversions such as making an appointment with a doctor.
The scenario didn’t just include owned and earned media. It was supported by paid media such as boosted Facebook posts and promoted tweets.
In the end, the experts were very pleased to tap the power of social media to connect with key audiences in a scale never before possible. And those in the audiences got to know, like and trust the experts to the point that they made appointments with their organization when they needed health assistance.
Wow, it was fun thinking about the possibilities! Amazing where the mind can go on a relaxing Saturday in the back yard.
During an excellent session at the recent Health Care Social Media Summit called Health care reform meets social media: Cultivating online communities to prevent and manage illness, Dan Hinmon of Hive Strategies and Willamette Valley Medical Center walked us through the challenges and opportunities at this juncture in our history.
It’s definitely an interesting time, as Hinmon pointed out:
* Healthcare profits are dropping, as costs are increasing. Medicare and Medicaid payments are below actual cost.
* Financial pressures are increasing, with people with insurance unable to pay high deductibles.
* Collaboration and wellness are among solutions to address the challenges.
* Payment models are changing from fee-for-service to global payments. It’s all about working better with communities.
Here’s where the opportunity comes: Patient education is important… delivering good information to help people make good decisions improve their health behavior, bringing together groups of patients for better care. The focus shifts to the health and wellness of the community over stealing patients from competitors. The goal is to keep people out of the hospital. Health care is no longer episodic; it’s something you think about every day. Price is the driver.
What skills are needed in this new environment? (1) Strategist, (2) Content, largely educational, (3) Community building, (4) Managing online patient communities.
Hinmon pointed to Diabetic Connect as an example of an online patient community geared to chronic disease management. He cited FeverBee as an excellent resource for those starting and managing online communities. He mentioned Wellaho, a community where patients and health systems pay to manage health conditions.
Yes, these are times of big challenges — and major opportunities!
Took a 6 a.m. flight out of Cincinnati earlier this week to get to Rochester, Minn., in time for a pre-conference workshop called How to Use Video to Spread Your Health Care Messages to the Public and the Media with Vince Golla , digital media and syndication director at Kaiser Permanente, which serves 9 million members in nine states and the District of Columbia. The 3-hour session took place the afternoon before the Health Care Social Media Summit and Social Media Health Network meeting.
It was well worth the loss of sleep. Besides, there was lots of coffee to perk me up!
Here are a few highlights from Golla’s workshop:
* Video equipment, and editing and publishing tools have become so affordable and easy-to-use that it’s a no-brainer for PR people to take advantage of them. At the same time, the threshold for production quality has come down. CNN even laid off a number of videographers because its viewers were supplying news videos acceptable to watchers. On top of that, a Pew study shows that people are getting more news via social media. This presents a tremendous opportunity.
* Keep your online videos concise, usually under three minutes. YouTube metrics will give you a good understanding of how long to make a video — and the topics that hold your audience’s attention.
* Documentary style works well. For example, patients telling their stories unscripted and uncompensated to an interviewer at a 15% angle from the camera. Focus on storytelling. Be sure to have them sign a HIPAA waiver. These videos make for good viewing in waiting rooms and embedding in e-newsletters. One video in a Kaiser Permanente newsletter led to 50-plus viewers asking for colon cancer screening kits.
* Devote appropriate time to preparation, especially scouting a location with an ear on sounds and eye on lighting. Interview your subject off-camera, make her comfortable, then turn on the camera and make it more conversational. Use there rule-of-three when framing — include something visually interesting in the shot along with the person speaking.
* Be strategic. Ask how a planned video fits into your message architecture and ties to your organization’s goals and objectives. Maybe a newsletter article or podcast would work better.
* Supplement embargoed press releases about study results with private links to videos of experts quoted in the announcements. These help draw coverage and end up being used by mainstream media.
* External mics, tripods and lenses, such as those sold on Photojojo, are a necessity. (Check out The Glif, which allows you to put an iPhone on a tripod.) They make a big difference when using an iPhone, Droid or other smaller camera.
* A do-it-yourself video outfit can be assembled for $2,475, while the cost of a single professionally produced video of three minutes. costs $3,500-$5,000. Good argument for investing in equipment.
* Hire an intern to do video editing using Final Cut Pro 10 — and have the intern train you how to edit. Or pay a professional video editor to teach your team the basics.
* If asked to do a “viral video,” say: “You don’t make viral videos. You make videos that go viral. There is a difference.”
These are just a few of the nuggets from the comprehensive pre-conference workshop as I wind down on the Friday evening after a big week at the Summit. Hope you found them helpful.
Just returned from an amazing family adventure in Maine and Boston. Sprinkled among the seafood feasts, walks in beautiful settings and tours of historical sites were visits with inspirational cancer survivors and their families. My wife Tami, author of From Incurable to Incredible: Cancer Survivors Who Beat the Odds, met the survivors though her blog, Facebook and other online channels.
I share my vacation story here because it serves as a perfect example of the power of social media. I get to see first hand how people like my wife and Marie Petrides support each other on Facebook and phone — and finally, in person in Boston — as they do everything within their means to survive metastatic cancer. They share experiences about treatments, diet, spirituality… as they beat the odds.
Social media truly is a lifeline for them — something that facilitates powerful connections with survivors, doctors, holistic practitioners and the like from around the world. These connections simply wouldn’t happen without social media.
As I’ve stressed on this blog, social media isn’t a replacement for face-to-face interaction. In fact, it facilitates it.
During our trip, we had lunch with lung cancer survivor Deb Violette in Augusta, Maine, and hung out with childhood survivor Charlie Capodanno and his mom and brother at Faneuil Hall and Stage IV cancer survivor Peter Devereaux and his family at Boston Commons. We enjoyed lunch with Marie Petrides in Cambridge. Breast cancer survivor Wendy McCoole and her husband Kevin gave us an unforgettable tour of the Portsmouth, N.H., area.
Conversations began months ago in social media, and will continue there — until we meet in person again. Soon, I hope.
A wise person once taught me the power of three little words — I don’t know. For some reason, early in my career, I felt embarrassed to admit a lack of knowledge in certain areas. I’d nod my head, as if to indicate I had it down. Or smile, as if to show agreement for a point that had shot straight over my head. Thankfully, those days are long gone.
Lately, for example, I’ve felt a bit perplexed at times while researching paid social media monitoring/reporting/engaging tools. For several years, I’ve relied on free tools such as Google Alerts, Twitter search, Facebook Insights and YouTube Insight to monitor, measure and report social media success. For even longer, I’ve used WebTrends — a paid product — to measure and evaluate web site strategy and tactics.
But I keep reading in books such as The NOW Revolution: 7 Shifts to Make Your Business Faster, Smarter and More Social and No Bullshit Social Media: The All-Business, No-Hype Guide to Social Media Marketing and others about these cool things you can do with paid tools such as Radian6 and Sysomos — measuring “share of voice,” identifying “key influencers,” calculating and reporting Return on Investment (ROI), doing competitive analysis… Lots of stuff that could create lots of value for your organization and give you great information to assist with your decision-making.
I also hear from my cohorts in health care social media how they employ these tools to more effectively use social media to improve public relations, marketing, customer service… So I started checking with vendors, who were very willing to give demos and explain how their products work. That’s where some of my “I don’t knows” started.
Q: How would you like to use this? A: I don’t know. I want to see what it’s capable of doing. At times, I feel a bit stupid, really. But that’s OK.
Here are some thoughts from Facebook friends:
* Jason Lee Overbey You can do most of those things for free on your own. It truly depends on what you current campaign is trying to do. If you have a big project or brand/message release, I say you need it. But everyone has an opinion on this.
* Jackie Danicki I think it depends on the scope of your project and how important results tracking is to you.
* Allison Brinkman I agree w/ Jackie, though having used Sysomos I can tell you there are benefits however there was more of a learning curve associated with it than other PR related sites I’ve used. Thankfully, they have great customer service!
* Susan Gosselin Mike the free tools are really incomplete. They miss a lot and it’s a pain to aggregate the results. An organization your size should at least have the lite version of Radian 6
* Aldon Hynes We don’t use them… We’ve talked about it, but so far, the cost just doesn’t seem justified. Maybe if we were bigger we might consider them a little more seriously.
* Howard Luks What are you looking to do. Very costly … would suggest you talk to the folks at @brightwhistle or perhaps demandforce.
Some of the social media peeps in our system are using, or are about to purchase, paid tools. Perhaps I’ll tap into their efforts. Maybe I’ll help them, and others, move into more advanced areas. Time will tell.
Meantime, I asked Jason Falls, co-author of the No BS book mentioned above, in a recent TweetChat which he recommends. He gave this list: @radian6 @sysomos@ubervu and @visible. SMMS? @Expion @Spredfast@argylesocial. I’m evaluating the first two very closely.
So the quest goes on. I’d appreciate your insights in the comments section.
2011 will go down as an amazing year in my book — one in which I made the transition into health care social media (and media relations, web content, internal communications… in the health care world). I started a job as media manager at Catholic Health Partners, the largest health system in Ohio and one of the largest non-profit systems in the country, on Jan. 10.
I have no regrets about leaving a satisfying career in government public relations after almost 17 years to enter health care at a time of tremendous transformation. It reminds me of when I started in government social services — and the country was in the midst of welfare reform. I feel extremely fortunate to be involved in such important events.
Here are some highlights from 2011, a year that I believe has set the stage for an even more incredible 2012:
* Attending the Health Care Social Media Summit at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minn., in October. I’m still in awe of the experience of connecting with health care social media leaders from across the country (as well as several other nations). I choke up when I tell people about meeting people such as E-Patient Dave DeBronkart, who are using social media to save lives. I made connections with dozens of PR and marketing pros from hospitals and health systems who are passionate about making a difference for the patients and families we serve. I also connected with doctors and nurses who have embraced social media as a way to improve the health of their communities. We continue to connect via Twitter chats, Facebook. LinkedIn…
* Leading the Catholic Health Partners Social Media Champions!, a group of social media practitioners from across the system. We confer regularly via online forums and phone, sharing best practices and lessons learned. We met in August for a Social Media Summit, featuring Krista Neher, author of the Social Media Field Guide and CEO of Boot Camp Digital. It was awesome hearing from Krista, who took a lot of time preparing for this health care audience. I sincerely appreciate the fine work she did.
* Participating in media training offered by Empower MediaMarketing. It was probably one of the most challenging experiences of my PR career, guiding a selection process that led to us choosing Empower over a number of firms that provide excellent media training. But Empower didn’t disappoint. Highly regarded PR pros Kevin Dugan, Ashley Walters and Claire Guappone packed a lot into a tight time frame. They also were flexible and catered to our needs.
* Working with an amazing team of seasoned professionals at Catholic Health Partners. (In all reality, this is No. 1 by far.) Greg Smith, my manager, has decades of health care experience and is a great all-around person. Debbie Copeland-Bloom is the consummate PR professional, also with an extensive health care background. Kathi McQuade knows video production like nobody else I’ve encountered. Carrie Allison is a talented PR pro with lots of years in health care. I am so blessed to be a part of this team. They are a joy to be around. I learn something from them every day.
* Supporting my wife’s blog and book. In case you didn’t know, Tami Boehmer is author of From Incurable to Incredible: Cancer Survivors Who Beat the Odds and the highly acclaimed www.miraclesurvivors.com blog. Despite battling Stage IV breast cancer, she pushes on and inspires and informs many. Here is her year in review.
* Reading lots of good books and getting some new gadgets. This seems trivial, compared to the above. But I read some really good books this year. You can read my reports elsewhere on this blog or see my reading list on my LinkedIn profile. Through the power of social media such as this blog and Twitter, I connected with most of them individually. As for the gadgets, I got a tablet (Kindle Fire) and a new Android phone. My daughter delights in my geekness!
* Attending lots of great events offered by Cincinnati PRSA, Cincinnati Social Media, New Media Cincinnati and the Cincinnati American Marketing Association. They all put on very good programs and gave us a place to connect with others who are passionate about our profession. I encourage you to check out their websites or LinkedIn pages.
* Returning to Twitter full-force after a detour into Google+ and health care blogland. There are lots and lots of health care folks (PR, marketing, clinicians, techies…) in areas such as #mccsm and #hcsm. I have learned so much from them — and hopefully have shared links and tidbits that have helped them. (Find me on Twitter at @MikeBoehmer57).
There are just some thoughts that come to mind as I sit here on a PTO day, reflecting after a walk around the neighborhood. I’m really excited about the year ahead. I think we can all make a positive difference in the lives of others through the power of social media. Great potential lies ahead!
Tucked near the end of many great marketing and PR sessions at the Health Care Social Media Summit at the Mayo Clinic last month was this discussion: How to Avoid Legal Issues in Social Media with David Harlow of The Harlow Group and Dan Goldman and Randy Schwartz from Mayo Clinic.
OK, it might not have sounded as interesting as some of the other sessions. But the trio presented a thorough and easy-to-understand 60 minutes of helpful info.
They first assured us that you can use social media effectively and stay on the right side of the law. In fact, one in five institutions are using social media.
New rules are nudging the health care industry to get more social. Accountable Care Organizations (ACOs), a key component of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, center on patient engagement. Healthcare organizations must be where people live. They must move existing norms into the online environment. (AMA Policy, Nov. 15, 2010, does this.) However, the open-book ethic of social media runs up against privacy concerns of healthcare, so the speakers said to adopt a risk management mindset to understand risk and avoid liability. They noted that a patient can release her or his own health info online under HIPAA, but you can’t release someone else’s without permission.
Here are some notes culled from my Twitter stream:
Harlow: You can limit liability by clearly defining roles and responsibilities in social media policies and procedures. Good to scrub your Facebook page and take down inappropriate content every day. However much you may want to talk about individual cases, be super careful even if think have de-identified. Important for healthcare providers to curate to provide good content for patients.
Schwartz: Leadership buy-in important. Share successes and failures. Address IT and Security concerns. Share your guidelines — staff meetings, manager/supervisor meetings, department meetings, newsletters, brown bags… Discuss recurring issues, other guidelines. Make adjustments. Example: Not want providers friending patients. At Mayo, updated policy last week. First was two years ago. Involve HR, Legal, Social Media, Public Affairs
Goldman: There are some risks here, but you can manage those risks. There is risk in all you do. Challenges of social media: reach, blurring of professional/personal lives. Another challenge of social media — a new generation of lifecasters. Expectation of sharing all life details, work. Ethical challenges — Do you really want to be friending your patients? Supervisor? Employees? Control challenges — You may have to tolerate some things you don’t like, especially challenging with HIPAA. Prohibit employees from speaking anonymously or pseudonymously about where they work (FTC endorsement/testimonial), NLRB — Employees have a right to post about working conditions or wages to, or on behalf of, co-workers. Identify who can speak on behalf of your company. Have social media policy training part of new employee orientation, Social media policy best practices — No one-size-fits all. Is a reflection of corporate culture as law.
Hope you found this helpful. I did. Feel free to share any thoughts, or additions.
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