5 ways to keep your health care communications in good health

These communication strategies will prevent your health care organization from flatlining.

The messages health care communicators share require a sense of urgency, tact and accuracy. Whether dealing with a crisis, addressing an epidemic, sharing a patient’s story or unveiling the results of a research study, communications professionals are under a lot of pressure to get the details right.

As a result, you may have fallen behind on keeping your communications strategy up to date with the ever-changing trends in the industry. Whatever the size of your staff, how much time you have available or the degree of your technological know-how, it’s important to find new ways to reach your audience. These are five basic ways to freshen up your strategy and keep your audience engaged:

Think your work is in tip top shape? We want to see it. Enter Ragan’s 2017 Health Care PR & Marketing Awards and let us be the judge.

1. Give your blog a makeover

Dedicating the time to create new and fresh content for your blog doesn’t have to be daunting. Developing a content calendar, encouraging staff to guest post and finding inspiration from other outlets can make brainstorming post ideas a total breeze.

MD Anderson Cancer Center amped up its blog strategy by newsjacking and introducing a new design. It provided fresh takes on current social trends and news stories for its audience, branding the organization as a thought leader in the industry and increasing web traffic by 13 percent.

2. Use video as a storytelling tool

Video is easily the most popular and highly favored communication medium today. For health care communicators especially, video can be used in myriad ways. You can share a miraculous patient recovery story, let a staff member recount a harrowing emergency room experience, spread news about impressive research your organization is conducting or make a call for donations. The possibilities are truly endless.

Klick Health took a novel approach, using innovative technology to create a virtual reality video that took viewers on a journey through the colon to share vital information about treatment options for ulcerative colitis and Crohn’s disease. The VR experience debuted at a booth at the 2015 American College of Gastroenterology Annual Meeting.

3. Engage with your audience on social media

Whether your organization produces medical devices or pharmaceuticals, provides care or conducts research, there’s a good chance that your intended audience spends quite a bit of time on social media. If you haven’t already, now is the time to invest in growing your following and truly engaging on social platforms.

City of Hope took a unique approach to its updated social strategy. The organization started with its blog, narrowing its focus to four key content verticals: research and patient care, patient stories, people profiles and fundraising-related content. The team created shareable content around those four topics and distributed them via social media. This effort resulted in an impressive 827 percent increase in impressions across multiple platforms.

4. Start a community outreach program

Community outreach campaigns can be very expensive. However, it’s extremely important for health care organizations to be engaged with the issues in their community. The good news: Doing this doesn’t necessarily have to cost a lot of money.

Take PadillaCRT‘s partnership with Be the Match, for example. In desperate need of bone marrow donations, the organization wanted to find a low-cost way to raise awareness. It worked to organize 17 5K races throughout the nation and encouraged people to sign up for their local bone marrow registry. This low-cost initiative resulted in 340 local and national news stories. More than 300 people a day registered to become donors as a result.

5. Develop a mobile app

The benefits of developing a mobile communications tool are endless. You can use an app to communicate with your staff, share news with your community or provide care updates to patients and their families.

Tanner Health Systems created a mobile app for patients at its urgent care centers. The app shares real-time information and cuts down on wait time in five care centers. Users can also access a physician and specialist directory, look at job listings, receive news and care updates and more.

Is your health care communications team or agency making a name for itself using these methods or others? Share your work with Ragan’s 2017 Health Care PR & Marketing Awards to be named an industry expert.

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