Does my Hospital Need a Blog?

Healthcare Organizations should blog too

72% of Internet users look for health information online – is there information you could be offering them?

The short answer is yes. According to an article in Social Media Today:

  • 72% of Internet users look for health information online.
  • 77% of Internet users read blogs.
  • 81% of U.S. consumers trust advice and information from blogs.
  • Companies that blog have 97% more inbound links.

OK, you say, this makes sense for a larger B2C brand. But what does it mean to me and my hospital? Read full post...


The persistence of myth

Once again, a study has confirmed that there are significantly more risks associated with not vaccinating children than there are with vaccinating them. The study — published on September 30 in Pediatrics — looked at rates of pertussis (whooping cough) in California, and compared them to rates in areas where parents withheld vaccines from their children. The findings? People who weren’t vaccinated were 2½ times more likely than the norm to live in an area with high levels of whooping cough.

Why is this important? Because as the study states in its background, “In 2010, 9120 cases of pertussis were reported in California, more than any year since 1947.” How could this happen in the United States in the 21st century? Why would parents withhold one of the most effective preventers of communicable diseases in the world?Read full post...


Tackling healthcare marketing challenges

We’re proud to be partnering with our friends from MedStar Health and Scripps Health to present an Idea Workshop at SHSMD’s Annual Conference. Our workshop will tackle seven of the most common healthcare marketing challenges faced by our colleagues around the country. We identified these challenges through a brainstorming session with MedStar and Scripps, a poll of all ab+c healthcare partners and a survey of SHSMD Annual Conference attendees. Here’s a quick look at three of the challenges that we’ll be discussing at the conference.

Challenge #1: How do I choose what to market?

Plan, plan and plan some more. Your marketing plan is one element of your organization’s planning cycle, and you should take cues from the other elements: your strategic plan, facilities plan, operating plan, financial plan, business plan and communications plan. From those plans, identify the organization’s priority service lines. Then determine if they’re ready to be marketed:

  • Do you have clinical strength in this area?
  • Do you have positioning power?
  • Is it profitable?
  • Is there competitor vulnerability?
  • Is there spin-off revenue?
  • Is there a product champion?
  • Can they deliver on patient experience?

If you plan properly and can answer these questions, you’ll have an easier time prioritizing your marketing efforts.Read full post...


Bringing home the gold!

Ecstatic, thrilled and maybe even a little overwhelmed — that pretty much sums up how people are feeling here at ab+c after learning that we won Best in Show, 11 gold, two silvers, one bronze and four merit award at the 30th Annual Healthcare Advertising Awards. Those numbers alone are pretty impressive, but what’s even more meaningful is that we won more gold awards than any of the other 268 agencies that submitted and that we had 14 different clients win with us.

These numbers validate what we already know: The healthcare marketing industry is just as competitive as healthcare these days. More agencies are entering into this specialty area, but this year’s success shows that we are ahead of the curve. Our healthcare team is steeped in expertise and our partners benefit from the years (even decades — yikes!) that we have been working in the industry.Read full post...


Quick tip on how to get staff to wash their hands

Institutions that exhibit strong compliance with hygiene show strong declines in infections of all types

Institutions that exhibit strong compliance with hygiene show strong declines in infections of all types.

In a recent article on FierceHealthcare, the editors compiled four videos from health care providers that encourage staff—everyone from custodians to physicians—to wash their hands. These videos had been posted on YouTube, and one of the points of the article is that hospitals and other institutions are turning to social media to cut down on hospital-acquired infections.

Why is this still a problem? It’s not as if we haven’t been taught from childhood that washing our hands is an important part of staying healthy.

The American Society for Microbiology and the American Cleaning Institute conduct “A Survey of Handwashing Behavior” every few years. The most recent study included a telephone survey, in which 96 percent of people said they always washed their hands after using a public bathroom. But reality tells a different story. In the latest survey, restroom observers reported that 85 percent of men and women observed at public places in Atlanta, Chicago, New York and San Francisco washed their hands after using a public bathroom.Read full post...


8 words and phrases health care communicators should outlaw

It’s time to stop utilizing.

It’s time to stop utilizing.

You see them all the time. Predictable, cliché, meaningless words that just fill space. They’re in nine out of ten health care ads. As a writer, they drive me insane. Here’s an irritating eight we can all do without.

State of the art: What exactly does that mean? Whose state are we talking about? And what art is this that has a state?

Utilization: Whatever happened to plain, old-fashioned “use.” Perfectly good word. Three letters. Says the same thing. Think about it.

Innovation: What exactly is the innovation? Why can’t you tell me what it is? Do I have to guess? Are you afraid to let me know because I will be so amazed I will fling my clothes into the wind in wild abandon, run down the street naked, crying tears of joy and amazement?Read full post...


Some caviar with your cardiogram, sir?

Hospital food is going gourmet. Yum!

Hospital food is going gourmet. Yum!

I’ve recently become obsessed with where my food comes from. And I don’t think I’m alone. There are farmers’ markets and Whole Foods popping up all over the place. Whole Foods’ labels don’t just give you the “Best Before” date on your New York strip, they tell you where the cow lived, his name and what he generally liked to do on the weekends. Restaurants are at it, too. I went to my first all-raw vegan organic café the other day. It’s a trend that’s picking up speed. And people are voting at the cash register. I have a friend who likes to call Whole Foods “Whole Paycheck.” But like thousands, I’m willing to pay more for a better product, which is presumably healthier, too.Read full post...


Only 4 percent of U.S. hospitals have blogs—yikes!

As all hospital content creators know, there is no shortage of stories to tell.

Everyone blogs—kidscatsStarbucks, even an accused criminal. But in the world of hospital communications, blogging is not nearly as prevalent. In fact, fewer than four percent of hospitals have them—185 to be exact, according to the Mayo Clinic’s Health Care Social Media List.

It’s a little surprising that more hospitals haven’t embraced the blog as a way to share their stories. A blog offers a controlled communications channel that engages and drives measurable web traffic. It showcases the organization’s personality and mission. I would challenge any PR or marketing pro to come up with a tactic that does all that—in 300 words or less!

Read full post...

Paging Dr. Marcus Welby: why private practice doctors switch to urgent care

“My time was spent fighting insurance companies and doing paperwork instead of caring for patients.”

“My time is spent fighting insurance companies and doing paperwork instead of caring for patients.”

My father was a family medicine doctor for more than 40 years. Running a single-doctor practice, he wore many hats. Not only did he need to be a healthcare expert, he was also a small-business owner, accountant, HR director and IT person—roles he was never trained for. All while facing the challenges of practicing medicine: malpractice insurance costs, low reimbursements, government regulations and the uncertainty of healthcare reform.

So I shouldn’t have been surprised by what I heard from doctors who left private practice to work in urgent care. Read full post...


Finding the right doctor for every age

How do marketers make patients “brand” loyal to their PCP?

The days of doctors making house calls may be making a full circle as the new focus for insurance companies is promoting the importance of the primary care physician. In a world where people change doctors like they change their socks, how do marketers make patients “brand” loyal to their PCP?Read full post...