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social media and hospitals

Social Media and the Healthcare Traveler

by Howard Gerber on April 16, 2015

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Social media has become a part of most people’s lives. As a healthcare traveler, social media can have both advantages and disadvantages. While it can be a great way to stay in touch, using social media responsibly is critical. [continue reading…]

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Social Media – Hospitals Getting into the Act

by Howard Gerber on January 3, 2013

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Social Media – Hospitals Getting into the Act

Last year, a patient at Seattle Children’s Hospital had a bright idea that caught fire. Patients and staff joined in a fun project, to lip-synch and dance to Kelly Clarkson’s “Stronger.” The idea for the project came from 22-year-old leukemia patient, Chris Rumble, who wanted to send a message of strength and hope to his hockey team after they sent him a video for his birthday. With help of film students from Seattle University, the project came together. The finished product was uploaded to YouTube in May of 2012, and it quickly went viral. Today, millions of people have seen the video.

The video was part of an ongoing project at Seattle Children’s Hospital called Not Now. The project gives a voice to adolescents and young adults struggling to cope with cancer; a chance to tell their story in a creative way and connect with peers. Today, there are many videos attributed to the project, including a video about the making of “Stronger,” “Chemo Barbie,” and “The Bieber Bet.”

St. Jude’s raises the stakes
Just recently, St. Jude’s entered the fray with “Hey St. Jude’s,” a video set to the Beatles “Hey Jude.” The video features patients, nurses, doctors, and staff, heavily interspersed with a wide variety of singers and celebrities singing the words. While not as spontaneous or as joyful as Seattle Children’s effort, it’s sure to be a hit.

What’s the point?
Many hospitals are in financial trouble. They are squeezed between government restrictions, insurance companies trying to maximize profits at patient expense, and the rising cost of specialty care for long-term diseases like cancer. Jumping on the social media bandwagon with an appealing video that might go viral puts a face on tragedy and raises awareness, but it also raises money. When bloggers, Tumblrs, Facebookers and Twitterers share the video with their friends and fans they often include a call to donate and a link to the donations page, which helps offset the costs of those things that make the hospitals affordable and special. Social media is a powerful tool…and you can use it.

Leveraging social media savvy
By now you’re asking…how does this apply to me? I’m not a hospital. You’re right. You’re not. But huge successful projects start with a person and an idea. Imagine your career marketability if, in your background, you started a project that raised $100k for a medical facility. Who wouldn’t want you on their staff? To get started, build your social media presence. Choose a look –colors, artwork, and tone—that represents you, your work, and your audience. Repeat that look and feel across several key social networking sites, and build an audience. Don’t take on too many, there are a million social sites, and you probably need to save some time to actually work. People will follow you if you post interesting, provocative, useful material. The more powerful your social network, the more influence you’ll have when the time comes to launch a money-making effort of your own.

In the meantime, here are the links to donate to Seattle Children’s and St. Jude’s

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