"We increased the number of social media administrators from within the hospital who could post content directly to our social media sites to aid in content generation and also be additional sets of eyes and ears," Bogen explains.
Using similar means, the hospital also grew a specialty Facebook site for its urgent care and freestanding emergency department, located in Long Beach, New York, about 5 miles from the hospital's home campus. Participation grew from just under 500 likes to more than 6,500 in that same year. When the hospital changed the service platform at that location from urgent care to emergency care, that growth gave the hospital an easy and inexpensive way to reach and notify interested parties in the market.
Using an integrated campaign of social media, website promotion, newspaper, radio, postcard mailing, beach flyover banners, and press conferences, the center doubled its patient volume in the first month and has continued to grow steadily.
South Nassau also increased its marketing budget, almost doubling in two years how much it spends on quality- and outcomes-based advertising. The hospital also is revamping its website to include more patient interactivity and to make more quality and cost information available. Previously the website was managed by a single administrator who could not keep up with constant updates, so now department managers have access to the site and are responsible for updating their information.
Different levels of consumerism across country
Regional differences can affect how much patients are moving toward consumerism, and how healthcare entities are responding. In areas where people have not been hit as hard with high deductibles and restrictive health plans, costs probably won't be the paramount issue for most patients, says Kimberly Boynton, president and CEO of Crouse Hospital, a 400-staffed-bed general medical and surgical hospital in Syracuse, New York.
Gregory A. Freeman is a contributing writer for HealthLeaders.