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Thursday, March 29, 2012

The Opposite of Rocky: Hospitals' Use of Social Media

As a grown man, this hurts to admit, but I cry at movies. Some of them. A little. Like when the very battered and bloodied underdog, Sylvester Stallone, having gone all out to become a contender but of course, having lost nobly, cries out for his loyal girlfriend Adrian! to comfort him in the ring. And she, overcoming shyness and any prissiness at getting her nice coat soaked with blood and other bodily fluids, struggles up to comfort him there.

Now, even at that moment, while tearing up, I also feel some self-disgust, for I know Sylvester has been toying with me, peppering me throughout the movie with left jabs (she's homely but he loves her anyway!) and rights (they took away the big lunk's locker!) to set me up for the emotional knockout. And then I fall for it.

That scene came to mind after my recent research for a white paper on hospitals' use of social media. I came across one of the Facebook pages of Children's Hospital of Boston. The page shows at least 69 comments by family members, thanking Children's Hospital for caring for their children. It was my job to read all of them, moving me to tears more than once. These children overcame dreaded diseases, through their grit, and the skill and compassion of their doctors and nurses. Most of them had improbable Hollywood endings. May the others rest in peace, in loving memory.

That page has been liked by 700,000 people. The hospital's leaders recognize the importance of creating a favorable public impression among the parents of sick children. If the hospital's reputation is spread far and wide, the staff will be able to treat and save the lives of even more children. That's good for business, too. They've topped the page with the US News & World Report's headline that Children's ranked #1 in more specialties than any other hospital. That's fine; if you were in their place, you'd do the same thing. They've also used some tricks of the trade that Sylvester might admire. For example, to even get to some of the pages, you have to Like them first. That boosts the number of Likes, the coin of the realm.

Yet I admire Children's, and Sylvester. What's not to Like?

To read the free, three-page white paper with examples of hospitals' use of social media to improve patient safety, go to Swisslog's Facebook page.

Thanks to Swisslog for sponsoring the research.

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