Commentary

Picture This: Some Options For Telling The Story Of Your Hospital

I had occasion to visit someone in the hospital over the past couple days and weeks and, as I'm wont to do, I began organizing parts of the hospital I walked through into different compartments.

A hospital is an interesting place where rules, regulations, people, personalities, conditions, treatments and commerce all twist, turn, intersect, and overlap in ways that could probably best be depicted by a Salvador Dalí painting. This all came to a head for me, ironically, during one of my walks down a hallway near the main entrance that featured a large amount of framed art. No Dalís were on the walls, but there sure were a lot of paintings and photographs. And they were for sale.

While I have a fondness for turtles (having graduated from the University of Maryland), I kept thinking to myself as I saw the three-figure price tag of a beautiful framed picture of an underwater sea turtle, "Couldn't this highly trafficked space be put to better use?"

I thought a lot about who walks through this corridor. I thought about how many of them probably don't see a doctor as frequently as they should to receive proper, reliable, health information that could save their lives. I also thought about how they want to be reassured that the hospital they're visiting, either for their own treatment or to visit loved ones, is vibrant, informed and involved.

Instead of these for-sale framed pictures on the wall, I imagined this hospital using some of the space to mount a few flat-screen monitors with compelling questions, information, and spotlights on what makes them unique.

There's so much that could be presented to this audience! Just off the top of my head:

  • Stats on what conditions/injuries they treat the most
  • Success stories featuring patients with those conditions
  • Myth-busting "Did you know?" items
  • Performance-improvement initiatives
  • Shuttle (insert bus) information
  • References to community programs
  • Reminders to get screened for (insert condition here)
  • Medical news -- Reinforcing that your hospital is up on the latest developments is quite re-assuring to patients.
  • Upcoming events
  • Volunteer information
  • Employment opportunities (with short URLs) for more information
  • Curated references to the hospital or its staff on other sites (Yelp, FourSquare, Twitter, blogs, newspapers)
  • "Get to know our medical team" references with both clinical credentials and fun personal information. (On a side note, it's been a dream of mine to weave things like Pandora Radio bookmarked songs into doctor profiles.)
  • Reminders to check the expiration dates on prescriptions and to keep prescriptions safe from small children

... and I haven't even mentioned the hospital's missed opportunity to showcase its own web site and social media presence! What better way to increase your totals of engaged Facebook fans than by showing actual wall posts from the hospital and others to people currently in your hospital?

Every hospital has a lot going on. They often make proclamations in their mission statements about being a public service. So why not take the next step and highlight how your hospital is making good on that mission?

5 comments about "Picture This: Some Options For Telling The Story Of Your Hospital ".
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  1. Leslie Nolen from The Radial Group, January 7, 2011 at 11:14 a.m.

    I'm not convinced. Most of the stuff you list is the usual content you expect from hospital/clinic marketing departments.

    The problem is that almost no consumer inside a hospital (patient or visitor) is in a state of mind to process the kind of marketing information you're describing. Moreover, to consumers, most hospitals are fairly chaotic settings and this kind of content just ups the cognitive demand placed on them even more. Sticking it on flat-screen TVs or conveying it through whiz-bang interactive media doesn't change the fact that it's the wrong place at the wrong time.

    Now, I don't have enough information to know whether the art they had on display is the best answer either.

    But sometimes the best marketing simply provides an positive experience where the consumer least expects it - for example, a local art show that gives a momentary distraction from unavoidable stress.

    Reminds me of the Creole concept of "lagniappe" - "a little something extra" - and it's one of the best health and wellness marketing tools out there.

    Leslie Nolen
    The Radial Group
    The health and wellness
    business experts
    www.RadialGroup.com

  2. Jon Bouman from Tipping Point Media, January 7, 2011 at 11:35 a.m.

    I enjoyed this just for generating some more content ideas for my hospital client's social presence...Thanks

  3. Chad Capellman from Taoti Creative, January 7, 2011 at 4:04 p.m.

    Thanks for the feedback Leslie. You bring up great points about overload and appropriateness and how any of this information was displayed is vital.

    Most of the items I listed were from the mindset of being helpful reminders or items that could be of value to the audience.

    By doing this, the hospital could reinforce its value to the community as having the best interests of its patients -- and those who care about them enough to visit -- at heart.

  4. Amy Hennessey from Hawaii Pacific Health, January 7, 2011 at 4:38 p.m.

    As the manager of marketing for our Foundations of Hawaii Pacific Health, I wonder if the art for sale is benefitting the hospital foundation? In addition to helping patients relax through the use of art, we also have a need to continually raise funds in support of the work we do. It's an opportunity to do so in an appealing way by displaying this in the hallway. As Leslie mentioned, many patients aren't in a frame of mind to disgest the information you list. We want them to relax and focus on healing, so we try to keep the halls as calming as possible.

  5. Paula Lynn from Who Else Unlimited, January 7, 2011 at 5:28 p.m.

    Amy is right. Millions of dollars and resources have been devoted to put turtles on the wall. The last thing people walking through hospital corridors is huge masses of messages flashing at them. The calmer the patients, the visitors and staff are, the better quality of medical service. Wrong place and wrong message to take away from this article.

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