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4 Social Media Strategies to Build Patient Loyalty

Carrie Vaughan, for HealthLeaders Media, March 8, 2012

"Because of the success of the baby contest, we decided to continue with contests to increase activity," says Stebbins. "Our hospital holds numerous successful community events, and Go Red for Women was the next one scheduled. With our sponsorship partner, we devised the best red outfit photo contest."

St. Peter's wanted not only to attract more friends but also to give more women a reason to attend the event, says Stebbins. While the red outfit contest only generated about 10 new friends, St. Peter's did receive 18 photo submissions, and 96 people voted for their favorite red outfit. The number of attendees remained in line with the "Go Red for Women" event held in the previous year.

Michelle Kustra, marketing coordinator at Sherman Health, a 255-bed hospital in Elgin, IL, admits that, like St. Peter's, her organization started out simply posting information on social media sites as well. However, for the past few years, Sherman Health's social media goal has been to start discussions with the community.

Kustra says that the Illinois hospital uses all the tools at its disposal—including Facebook, Twitter, blogs, YouTube, and e-blasts. "We are no longer talking to the community, but talking with them and connecting to them and helping [the community] to connect with us on a personal level," Kustra says. Sherman Health has focused on photo submissions to help promote this interaction. It is also looking into sharing patient stories.

Healthcare organizations whose strategy is to simply post healthcare information are missing out on the true essence of what social media is all about—having "two-way communication and getting people to connect with you interactively," says Kustra.

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1 comments on "4 Social Media Strategies to Build Patient Loyalty"


Angela Keen (3/22/2012 at 12:35 AM)
I work at a hospital in Honolulu and have been involved with social media community since the early days. I now use social media to assist me in recruiting physicians. This article is spot on! Kudos to the writer who used great examples! When it comes to health care facilities and social media, it's important to have a Social Media "geek" specifically charged with this task. Too often, health care facilities set up their social media accounts as a broadcasting device. It's like the phone number where you "can't reach a real person". We all know patients loath getting caught up in the automated phone system. Think of Social Media and your health care facility or clinic the same way. You don't want an automated system. You want a real person to connect with patients. Many hospitals or health care facilities get interested in social media. They have someone set up accounts with pre scheduled tweets and broadcasts. It is like "set it and forget it". Then, there is no live person manning the accounts. This means there are no live interactions with patients or potential patients. If a health care facility or a clinic is going to have social media, it takes a dedicated social media manager who will engage, engage, engage. Complaints can get out of hand if you don't answer a tweet, Yelp!, Facebook, G+ message from a patient. However, helpful tips and engaging with social media savvy patients can garner more raves and positive feedback from patients that are broadcast to an infinite number of people and ultimately build loyalty.