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100 Ways for Hospitals, Health Systems to Twitter

Gienna Shaw, for HealthLeaders Media, January 7, 2009

Several times I've heard experts talk about how hospitals can use new media for promotion and public relations. The advice: Get on Facebook, start a blog, post to YouTube. And I'm always left wondering—OK, then what? So let's get specific. Since I started posting on Twitter, I've been watching several different hospitals and health systems to see what they're up to.

And, wow, are they doing some cool stuff.

Look who's tweeting
Backus Hospital, a community hospital in Norwich, CT, recently got me to click through to its site merely by mentioning it had posted pictures of its first baby of the New Year. Who doesn't love babies? The photos are really sweet and also show the hospital in a warm, intimate, friendly, and caring light.

Some other ways the community hospital is using Twitter:

  • Asking general questions to engage its audience. (If Sanjay Gupta becomes the U.S. Sugeon General, what would you ask him?)
  • Posting safety tips (change those smoke alarm batteries).
  • Posting health reminders (get those flu shots).
  • Providing links to cross-promote other products (read our monthly health magazine).

St. Jude Children's Research Hospital in Memphis, TN, always catches my attention with teases to stories about patients, volunteers, donors, and events. The marketing team at this organization really knows how to tell a good story.

Some other ways the hospital is using Twitter:

  • Announcing accomplishments (St. Jude Ranked No. 1 Pediatric Oncology Hospital).
  • Generating excitement about successful fundraising events and thanking fundraisers (marathoners raise $2 million for hospital).
  • Posting new research findings and overviews of topics such as cancer diagnosis and care.

The Office of Communications is a non-profit creative resource that serves organizations including the University of Texas Health Science Center and Texas Medical Center in Houston. I like their approach to Twitter. It's creative and diverse and full of personality. For example, they link to an article about why kids are terrified of Santa. (Many hospitals only link to their own sites. I think that's a mistake.)

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