How to Blog in the Healthcare Industry

This morning I was doing some searching on my Feedreader when I stumbled upon a rarity – a blog created by a CEO of a medical center.

Entitled “Running a Hospital”, the blog is hosted on a standard blogger template and is written single handedly by the CEO of Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center in Boston, Paul Levy.runningahospital2.jpg

What really got my attention from this blog was it wasn’t anything of what I would thought a blogging CEO of a hospital would be like. In fact, it was quite an example of one way to effectively blog in the healthcare industry. It was refreshingly random – sometimes talking about serious healthcare issues, sometimes covering lighthearted stories particular to his hospital, and sometimes completely random posts posing a variety of questions or insights.

What is the lesson to be learned here? The ability of social media to tie an emotional connection with an audience.

For instance, in reading these posts, as a reader I come away feeling as if I know something more about the hospital, the staff and volunteers, and Levy’s dedication and passion to his industry. I’m also able to laugh a little, agree or disagree, and overall come away feeling as if I know more about Levy and the Beth Israel Medical System than perhaps even the hospital in my own town.

Levy shows that it is possible for a CEO to enter social media successfully, turn comments on, and communicate authentically and transparently with an audience. While this may not be the right social media approach for every healthcare system, it does shed light on yet another way for hospitals to grow a community of support within its patients and staff. With competitive pressures growing in the healthcare industry, loyalty within these audiences is invaluable.

In my opinion, Levy could and should take his successful venture into social media a few steps further. Here’s just a few of my suggestions:

1. Promote the “Running a Hospital” blog via the main Beth Israel Deaconess website, through marketing materials, and even the traditional press.

2. Establish a branded Beth Israel social network similiar to CarePages or CaringBridge for both patients and staff to communicate and offer support (I’ve touched on this in an earlier post.)

3. Create Beth Israel branded widgets that help patients keep up with medications, appointments, and other pertinent Beth Israel updates and events. Allow these widgets to be integrated with SMS, desktop, or a social network like mentioned above.

– Use a Twitter-like application providing hospital updates for staff and administrators.

Can you think of any more ideas?

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