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Healthcare Community Engagement Roles Here to Stay

Marianne Aiello, for HealthLeaders Media, April 25, 2012

"The result are initiatives which provide value to people," he says. "It's tricky to accomplish, but it's easy to iterate on the design once you are in the ball park, dialing it in to find the sweet spot between providing value and serving the health system's needs."

Dawson put this empathetic approach to work in 2011 when Bon Secours piloted a program to actively listen for people posting online about needing a doctor.

"We were able to respond and help provide concierge-like service to get them into a physician's office right away," he says. "While it did a lot to get the attention of leaders in the organization, the more satisfying part was knowing we helped someone get care."

Unfortunately Bon Secours didn't have the resources to continue the work at the time, but it remains on the organization's strategic roadmap for down the line.

Though the community engagement role is in its infancy both at Bon Secours and in the healthcare industry at large, Dawson is convinced that the position is critical for hospitals to move forward.

"I think most hospitals and health systems would benefit from someone who has a foot in both camps, serving the community and engaging them by listening to feedback and providing value in the way we use social tools," he says. "Engagement speaks to the two-way nature of the role; the human aspects of sharing and connecting. I think that's also part of where we'll need go next—more humanization."

And for that reason, community engagement roles will become more prevalent in coming years. Start making space for one on your leadership team. 

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