Come on, hospitals! Put the social media pieces together!

Today, in the Baltimore Business Journal, we learn that Charm City hospitals are doing a great deal more social media outreach than they had in the past.  Take health system LifeBridge, the paper says:

The LifeBridge Twitter account and Blogspot blog is updated regularly and provides health care information to patients while its Facebook page is used as a job and career board. LifeBridge also has its own channels on YouTube and ICYou, an online health video source.

These all sound like good initiatives which use the various social media channels appropriately.  It’s clear that LifeBridge is trying to reach out and touch consumers; that it wants patients to be healthy;  that it’s making sure people have access to its job listings and that it’s making an effort to keep people up to date on its activities.

All of which means, well, just about zero if I’m a patient hoping to decide where to have an elective procedure.  Nada. Zip. Job listings?  Meh. Tweets?  Well, I’m willing to be called on it if I’m wrong, but I’m doubting they start thoughtful conversations with consumers.  Health information on video?  Well, I’ll add a few points for the video, as it’s a pretty compelling way to educate people, but just a few.

Bottom line?  Even if they are using the right content for the right pieces, these are a bunch of loosely-connected initiatives that can’t do much to make patients feel safe, comfortable and welcome on their own.  Doing that takes not only a change in content, but also in approach.

It’s time to build social media efforts around a central goal, that of making your key audiences feel connected to your facility. Not informed about what you’re up to (most people who read don’t care about your new parking tower), not educated (there’s a place for that and it’s usually called WebMD) but connected.

That would take a bunch of effort, time, study of what patients, clinicians and staffers want and some serious trial-and-error experimentation. But it would be worth every penny. Try it — I dare you!  You won’t be sorry.

About the author

Anne Zieger

Anne Zieger

Anne Zieger is a healthcare journalist who has written about the industry for 30 years. Her work has appeared in all of the leading healthcare industry publications, and she's served as editor in chief of several healthcare B2B sites.


  • Thanks for the reminder about Web MD….noted. Are there lower profile hospitals you feel are doing a good job of this? This is a great blog. Thank you for not boring me to death.

  • Hi Betsy, thanks for joining us — we’re delighted you enjoy the blog! No, honestly, I haven’t yet crossed paths with less visible hospitals that are doing great social media work — but I promise to promote them when I do. Until the industry settles on some best practices for social media, it will reap little of the benefit, I think.


  • As an Administrator who does blog and utilize Twitter, I appreciate your comments. As I continue my efforts, I will keep those comments in mind to ensure relevance to those we serve.

    Scott K.

  • Scott, thanks for your input. Great to hear about hospital leaders taking Twitter seriously — it’s a critical tool for putting a candid, relevant voice to the face of your facility.

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