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Healthcare Community Engagement Roles Here to Stay

Marianne Aiello, for HealthLeaders Media, April 25, 2012

"Community engagement is more than the technical and tactical implementation of social media in healthcare," he says. "It's about that empathetic design and pulling system resources together to help achieve the goal of meaningful use. The community part speaks to the audience, what we think of as our three constituents: patients/potential patients, employees, and physicians. In the end, they are all part of the community we serve."

The community engagement role reports to the health system's senior vice president of strategy, who report's to Bon Secour's local market CEO as well as the health system CEO. Dawson says he also works closely "in a dotted-line relationship" with the marketing leader, and in a less formal structure with the clinical, human resources, and mission teams.

Thinking like the end user
For Dawson, the single most important element to successful community engagement is simple—empathy.

"For me, it's about trying to imagine what kinds of things are valuable to the community and working to deliver them," he says. "Often those needs are unexpressed, and perhaps even unknown to the consumer of our work."

To achieve this goal, the community engagement director must put themselves in the mindset of the end user, rather than the business stakeholder. While those two parties often share similar goals, the implementation is different when approached from the users' point of view.

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