HACKENSACK UNIVERSITY MEDICAL CENTER
recent development is a new Pinterest account, the first of any health-care provider in Bergen County.
“In health care,” Ken Parker, director of communications and marketing, says, “you hear a lot about medicine and research, but health care is really emotional too. Pinterest brings that out. It really brings the hospital to life in ways that other social media platforms can’t do.”
The hospital’s Pinterest page – at pinterest.com/valleyhospital – features healthy recipes, inspiring stories and informational videos. It also has posts for specific populations, including new moms, cancer patients, and women’s and children’s services.
The new social media presence has also helped during flu season, natural disasters and other public-health events. During Superstorm Sandy, for example, the hospital worked with local agencies to deliver messages to its more than 2,100 Facebook fans about open shelters and other emergency assistance.
The hospital, like many health-care agencies, has also had to grapple with some of the downsides of social media. Inviting user participation can help patients share positive experiences and thank their doctors – but it also becomes a place to air complaints.
“That’s part of it,” Curran Kleinman says. “We have to understand that that happens, as well as the compliments.”
If it is appropriate, she says, hospital staff will respond directly to the complaint on the site. If not, each complaint is an opportunity to reach out to an unhappy patient and address his or her concerns.
After having a Facebook and Twitter presence for several years, Hackensack University Medical Center is exploring ways to expand its social media presence, Hughes says.
“What we’re finding is most people who like us and follow us are in the industry,” Hughes says. “It’s analogous to liking a Marriott hotel: When I need it, I stay there, but it’s not part of my life.”
The hospital’s current Internet presence is geared toward a general audience, but HUMC is in the early stages of developing condition-specific Web offerings, where users can enter conversations about areas that interest them – from geriatric patients to newborns. The hospital also is working on a digital platform that will be more accessible from mobile devices.
And the hospital is trying to devise ways to use social media to increase the role the hospital plays in people’s daily lives.
“We run a different type of business than the consumer product company,” Hughes says. “You come to the hospital for a specific need; you’re not planning that need. We want to be on top of people’s minds.”
To that end, HUMC is evaluating strategies to participate in conversations people are already having on the Web, such as retweeting interesting comments and stories or even commenting on other message boards.
“How do we become a part of those conversations?” Hughes says. “That’s something we’re taking a look at.”