Palo Alto Medical using social media to share compelling stories

At a Ragan conference, the foundation’s public affairs specialist tells how it gives a voice to doctors and patients.

Palo Alto Medical Foundation’s commitment to patients’ participation in their own health care predates social media by about 75 years.

But Twitter, Facebook and YouTube have helped in giving patients, doctors and staff a voice, said Erin Macartney, public affairs specialist at Palo Alto Medical.

“People can tell their story,” Macartney told an audience Wednesday at Ragan Communications’ Social Media for PR and Corporate Communications conference at the University of Nevada at Las Vegas. “They always tell it better than us.”

Though the Bay Area organization jumps in sometimes with Twitter or Facebook responses, it primarily looks for ways to share stories as told by the people who live them and provide information about the people who work and get treatment there.

Patient voices

One evening a patient tweeted that she had gotten an unwanted call from the hospital during her child’s bath time. The patient didn’t direct the tweet to @paloaltomedical, but she mentioned the abbreviation PAMF, and Macartney noticed it.

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