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5 Reasons Why We Love Roper St. Francis’s Blog


All hospitals have great stories to tell. In the past, PR folks could find a story, pitch it to a journalist and there it was…in print or on the evening news. But in a rapidly shrinking media market, what should a hospital marketer do?

Tell their own story!

When a hospital tells its own story and does it well, it can do wonders for brand awareness. The marketing team at Roper St. Francis in South Carolina caught on to the idea and dazzles readers with a great blog.

Here’s why we keep coming back for more:

1. Compelling patient stories. They’ve got a blog category called, “Life Changing Moments.” This highlights amazing videos about patients. For instance, this one is the story Shaun, a man who was trapped for 36 hours with a spinal cord injury when his vehicle flipped. The RSF team helped him walk again. Wow.

2. Quick snapshots on why they’re the place to go. With posts like, “Why We Dig 3-D” the hospital can show off their technological advances.

3. Their experts do the talking. Having a blog with your experts writing posts can help introduce them to the community.  “What I Wish Every Woman Knew About Her Breasts” authored by a doc is just the ticket.

4. Fresh content. If you’ve got compelling new content and a site that’s updated regularly, people will keep coming back. RSF is doing a terrific job at finding interesting content for their readers. The team posts about twice a week.

5. Connecting is a snap. From their blog, you can see their tweets, “like” their Facebook page, find a doctor or get to their website. Their blog also welcomes comments.

Posted by Nancy Jean

Healthcare Employees: Saving Lives, 24/7


You’re on a plane, on your way to Thailand for a friend’s wedding. You’re flying over Siberia and are two hours from the nearest airport. An older man sitting near you has a heart attack. What do you do?

Ramon Goomber, a pharmacist and a regional director for Specialty Pharmacy, was on such a plane flying over Siberia, on his way to his friend’s wedding, when a 60-year-old man who was sitting nearby slumped over and passed out.

Someone had notified a steward and the plane’s crew had already announced that they needed medical help. Goomber looked over and saw a doctor, who was also a passenger, giving the man CPR.

“I could see that the doctor couldn’t get enough pressure on his chest while this man was in his seat,” Goomber says. “I jumped out of my seat and we pulled him out of his chair onto the floor.”

The plane’s crew brought an emergency medical kit with syringes, epinephrine, an IV bag and other materials. Goomber’s friend, who is a police officer, stepped in to help. While Goomber, his friend and the doctor performed CPR to keep oxygen flowing to the man’s brain, the crew contacted nearby airports, asking for permission to land.

At one point, Goomber and his friend performed CPR while the doctor went to the back of the plane to talk on a satellite phone with Medlink. Goomber called out the man’s status to the doctor.

“Every time he lost pulse, I had to yell to the doctor, so people were panicking,” Goomber says. “This man’s wife was there, and she wound up going into shock. We were able to move her to the front of the plane so she wasn’t watching or listening.”

CPR is physically and mentally exhausting. Ideally, there would have been multiple people giving chest compressions. In this case, other passengers may have been afraid to step in, or might have thought that help wasn’t needed. No one else volunteered to help.

“Had I not had my friend with me, we couldn’t have done it,” Goomber says. “We were tired, but couldn’t stop. This man was non-responsive. All I thought was, ‘We need to keep his brain alive.’”

Working with the doctor, Goomber used his pharmaceutical expertise to dilute the epinephrine with sterile water so that it would help keep the man alive until the plane landed.

Finally, the plane made a fast, rough emergency landing at an airport. The doctor left with the man so that someone who knew the history would be with him at the hospital. Goomber and his friend continued on to their destination.

“He ended up recovering with no impairment, no brain damage,” Goomber says. “Had we not started CPR immediately, that would not have happened.”

But what about liability?

CPR saves lives. But when we see someone who needs help, we’re often afraid to step in — even if we’re trained to do so. You might think: “I know what to do, but what if I don’t do it right? Will I be sued?”

Not all states have a Good Samaritan law on the books. The American Academy of Orthopedic Surgeons reviews Good Samaritan Law and goes through some of the differences in the laws, state-by-state.

“I had zero concerns about liability,” says Dr. Thomas Inge at Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center, who helped save the life of a man who had a heart attack in a restaurant. “There’s a presumed protection under Good Samaritan law.”

In Inge’s case, he and another doctor happened to be eating at a restaurant when a fellow diner had a heart attack. They worked together to put the man on the ground. He wasn’t breathing, was sweating and they couldn’t feel a pulse.

“I’ve been a doctor for 20 plus years,” Inge says. “You go into muscle memory and just do what has to be done. It took about 20 minutes for EMTs to get there.”

The man was taken to a hospital and had cardiac surgery. He survived and is doing well, but would not have made it to the hospital alive if no one at the restaurant had performed CPR.

Advice for fellow Good Samaritans

Inge and Goomber say it’s vital to always be current on your CPR training. For clinicians, the cost of CPR training typically is covered by employers.

“There were different levels of preparedness among the flight crew,” Goomber says. “Some were panicked. Everyone should be first aid-trained. CPR training should happen in elementary school, high school and college.”

Inge says that clinicians should always stay up-to-date on CPR training. When he helped the man in the restaurant, for example, Inge wasn’t aware of the new American Red Cross Hands-Only CPR guidelines for victims of cardiac arrest.

“Everybody who takes the Hippocratic Oath knows that we may be called upon when we least expect it,” Inge says. “That’s what we’re trained to do, and we believe it’s our obligation to society.”

Sarah Hawkins is a freelance writer, editor and researcher. Read more of her work at www.sarahbhawkins.com.

Posted by Sarah Hawkins

3 Ways Writers Can Prepare for Winter


Working from home is glorious in so many ways. Productive, pleasant and afterwards — you can smugly do whatever you want, while the office-bound masses commute their lives away.

But there’s a dark side. It’s called winter.

If you work from home, the short days and cold nights can really get to you. It’s a combination of claustrophobia and agoraphobia. You feel closed in, but don’t want to go anywhere.

A couple of my colleagues recently told me:

“Let’s get together before it gets cold and I won’t leave my house.”

“I dread winter so much I didn’t even enjoy October.”

“Winter is coming. We must prepare.”

Oh, wait. That last one’s from HBO’s Game of Thrones. (Well, at least we don’t have to worry about White Walkers in real life.)

One in five Americans work from home. As we head into winter, here are some strategies to keep a sunny disposition when the sun won’t shine:

Let there be light

The government took away our 100-watt incandescent light bulbs in 2012. Call me dim, but it took me a while to figure out why things were getting so hard to see. I’m stocking up on the brightest bulbs I can still get my hands on — like halogen and LED — that help me feel less hemmed in by the lack of natural light.

A little full-spectrum therapy light box sits on my desk. It’s supposed to be more like the sun’s light. The idea is that 20 minutes each morning (off to the side, not directly in your eyes) can help treat Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD). My winter blahs aren’t clinical, but this ounce of prevention may be worth a pound of cure…or chocolate.

Vitamin D determination

Chances are pretty good that you, like me, are deficient in Vitamin D. More than 60 percent of  North Americans are. Vitamin D can make a big difference in your energy level. Take a Vitamin D pill daily and you might see some big changes.

Bundle up

Apparently, people in Norway say, “There’s no such thing as bad weather, just bad clothes.”

I quit walking my dog when it dips below 55 degrees, but this year, I’ll venture out with an extra layer to see how it goes. I’m also going to upgrade my winter clothes — and throw away that bulky sweater from 1992. If I feel more confident in what I’m wearing, I might even talk to more people. Rumor has it that stores, restaurants, libraries and gyms stay open all winter!

Posted by Karla Webb

Why Johns Hopkins Medicine Values Print Publications

paper boy

At Johns Hopkins Medicine, print isn’t dead.

In fact, it’s flying off the shelves.

The marketing team publishes a variety of print materials that hospital staffers can pick up in newsstands across six campus hospitals.

A seven-member team is devoted to writing and editing both print and online content. Stories are interconnected. For example, if you pick up a print publication, a story might direct you back online, where you can watch a supplemental video about the story.

“There’s still a spot for print because our audience tends to embrace it and appreciate it,” Amy Goodwin, the senior director of strategic communications and public affairs at Johns Hopkins Medicine says.

But Goodwin understands the importance of digital, too. The hospital publishes three e-newsletters. This includes: a daily e-newsletter, a monthly faculty e-newsletter and a monthly safety e-newsletter. The Intranet is updated daily, too.

“Digital makes sense,” Goodwin says. “It’s cheaper to deliver and you can see more metrics of who is reading your stories. But you also have to be strategic about your audience. Who are they? Where are they? What news and information is important to them? Then, you have to figure out the best possible way to deliver it.”

4 popular print publications

 Through print and electronic surveys, Goodwin found that 13 percent of staffers at the hospital don’t have access to computers during the day. So, that’s why the marketing team is reaching them through print.

Let’s take a look at what the team is publishing, both internally and externally.

1. Dome: This eight-page monthly broadsheet is published 10 times a year. More than 12,000 copies are distributed throughout the hospital system in newsstands. You won’t see any of those boring “you need to sign up for HIPAA training” stories in Dome. The content is focused on entertaining stories, fast facts and accomplishments from staff.

“This is our most popular publication,” Goodwin says. “It’s the heart and the soul of our organization. If there’s a program or event, everybody wants to be in Dome. Someone saying they want to be in Dome is like someone saying they want their own website.”

2. Inside Hopkins: This features “news you can use,” such as information about blood drives or updates from town hall meetings. This is published every two weeks with 5,000 copies circulating throughout the hospitals.

3. Johns Hopkins Health Review: This consumer-oriented magazine is published twice a year to a 5,000-person targeted mailing list. The 40+ page magazine is produced on high-quality paper, with image-rich stories.

“We’ve had people write letters to us, telling us how much they like it,” Goodwin says. “Even if you’re not a PhD, you still feel like you understand the science news in here.”

4. Johns Hopkins Magazine: This 40+ page alumni magazine is mailed to 40,000 people around the world.

What matters most

Whether your efforts are in online or print, don’t tell corporate news. Tell stories.

“If your employee newsletter is going to be a picture of a pumpkin carving contest and a note about participating in a blood drive, don’t spend your money on print,” Goodwin says. “If you’re going to put money and effort into print, you need great storytelling, design and great images.”

Posted by Jessica Levco

7 Instagram Filters for Corporate Communicators


By now, you’ve probably read all the facts you want to about Instagram. But if you haven’t, here’s a quick refresher:

All this is great, but when you’re using Instagram — let’s be honest — you’re not thinking about facts. You’re thinking about which filter works best for your picture.

But did you ever wonder how your filter selection fits your corporate comms personality?

Let’s explore:

Normal: If you’re not using a filter, you’re probably on Instagram because you’re just keeping an eye on your kids. At the office, you’re happy to have social media as part of your communication strategy, but really, you’re happier that someone else is in-charge of it. You’re seen in the office as someone who is consistent, reliable and dependable…but, c’mon, team #nofilter, don’t let social media keep you away from experimenting every once in a while. Your kids — and your co-workers — are having a lot of fun.

Valencia: You come across as laid back and relaxed, but you’re able to get your point across in big, colorful ways. You might speak softly at meetings, but people hear what you’re saying. Co-workers like coming by your desk because you have a hodgepodge of quirky antiques on your shelves.

Moon: You’re a former journalist, turned PR pro. You used to write ledes, but now you’re writing about the lunch specials on your company’s Intranet. Like the filter, you dream of simpler times — of black and white — but even in the age of social media, try to enjoy the sharp contrasts and richness this PR gig can give you. (Hint: If you’re looking for an adrenaline rush, send out an embargoed press release.)

Lo-Fi: Even though that picture of the tuna melt on your desk looks great — nobody wants to smell it. Enough with the foodie pictures, #lofi! Get back to work.

Rise: You’re the heart and soul of the 9-5 corporate communications grind. Just like the filter, there’s always a glow around you. Your communication style is compassionate and friendly. Plus, you’re the “go to” in a crisis because you know how to put any situation in a softer, more forgiving light.

X-Pro II: You picked this filter because you also refer to yourself as an “expert,” “ninja” or “maven.” You’ve spent the majority of your career telling people you know what you’re doing — instead of showing them. You think putting this filter on your photos will make them look “professional,” but hey, shutterbug guru — don’t forget about the rule of thirds.

Mayfair: You always represent what’s in the best interest of your company. You back up all your company’s social media decisions based on research and facts. That’s why you’re using Mayfair: It’s the No. 1 filter choice from Fortune 500 companies. But loosen up your collar during this week’s happy hour and see what happens if you pick a new filter for that grapefruit “mocktail.” Your followers might appreciate your authenticity.

Now that you know your Instagram filter, find out how your hospital can use Instagram effectively.

Posted by Jessica Levco

3 Ways Your Hospital Can Use Periscope


You’ve probably heard some buzz about Periscope (it hit 10 million users this summer), but have you thought about using it at your hospital?

Here’s why you might want to: Periscope is about seeing the world through someone else’s eyes, in real time. Imagine if you could show the world what life is really like at your hospital. Download the app, browse a map for live streaming video and click on a user to get in on the action.

Once you’ve done that, check out these ideas on how to use Periscope at your hospital:

  • Interviews: Followers love to see other people and hear their perspectives. Use your hospital’s Periscope account to broadcast interviews with a doctor who is pioneering a breakthrough procedure, a nurse who has gone above and beyond or a patient who had a great experience at your facility.
  • Facility tours: Use Periscope to provide followers with a “sneak peek” of facility upgrades you’ve been making, a new wing slated to open next month or your redecorated pediatric floor featuring bright, cheery colors. Provide a brief tour of your labor and delivery area to share with OBs whose patients will be delivering at your hospital. Find other tips on creating a virtual hospital tour here.
  • Events: Shoot video of events at your hospital, so that those who can’t be there in person can still share in the fun. Fundraisers, groundbreakings and award ceremonies are great, celebratory occasions to include videos of on your Periscope account.

On Periscope, you don’t have to worry about getting these videos professionally edited. People want “raw,” real footage that provides an insider look into the everyday workings of your facility, your staff and your patients. Viewers want to see your hospital through Periscope, just as they would see it as they walk through your hallways.

Posted by Danielle Quales

5 Leadership Tips From a Public Policy Officer


If you Google, “chief public policy officers,” David Tatum’s name is one of the first to pop up on LinkedIn’s list of most popular public policy officers.

As the chief public policy officer of government and community affairs at Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta (CHOA), he’s spent his career dealing with the nitty-gritty of Medicaid, late-night legislative meetings and making sure the kids at CHOA get the best care possible.

Policy wonks and marketers might be sitting in different departments, but Tatum’s leadership advice is something we can all learn from.

Take a look:

1. Take it personally

No matter what role you play at your hospital, it matters.

“Too many people don’t take their work personally,” Tatum says. “But in healthcare, you have to take it personally. What you do affects the lives of your patients.”

He asks: If you’re not passionate about what you do, particularly in healthcare, why are you doing it?

Every position at the hospital can directly or indirectly affect patient care.

“If the person scrubbing the floor doesn’t do a good job, infection rates could increase. If the people serving the food at the cafeteria aren’t friendly, families won’t have a positive experience with us. If I’m not successful dealing with legislative or regulatory issues, kids who need access to care won’t get it,” says Tatum

2. Tell a personal story

During lectures and meetings, Tatum knows people will tune him out if he drones on and on about numbers and statistics. That’s why he tells stories, instead.

“Last year, our hospital treated 365,000 kids,” Tatum says. “That’s a nice number. But what does that mean?”

Instead, he’ll frame the number by saying this:

“That’s like the entire population of Savannah, Valdosta and Waycross all come up here for treatment. Imagine The Walking Dead hitting those towns and they all come to us. That’s huge.”

If you don’t make things personal during your presentations, people will go back to checking their iPhones.

3. Fight for what you believe in

A few years ago, Georgia’s then governor Roy Barnes’ budget proposed to eliminate a portion of reimbursement for primary care clinics run by hospitals. This would have affected six clinics at CHOA. Tatum knew that if these clinics closed, more people would go to the ER, causing the state to pay more in Medicaid.

“I told Governor Barnes, ‘Imagine being a single mom on Medicaid with a two-year-old. You get a letter that says CHOA is closing and she needs to make other arrangements. Since she works all day, most other pediatrician offices aren’t available to her when she gets off work. So, when her kid is sick, she’ll take her kid to the ER. It may not cost her additional money, but it costs the state more.’”

Barnes reversed his policy decision.

“It was financially smarter for the state not to eliminate these clinics,” Tatum says. “And it was better for all the families, too.”

4. Don’t lie

Tatum spends three months of the year at the Georgia General Assembly. It was here he learned the first rule of lobbying: Never, ever lie.

“Your credibility, your reputation is all you have, when it comes down to it. CHOA is a not-for profit, so we can’t make any political contributions. The only thing I have to appeal to those I’m lobbying is my personal integrity, and the integrity and goodwill of CHOA,” says Tatum.

He adds that it’s important to only hire people who tell the truth.

“I don’t work with anybody who is going to lie to me.”

5. Work with your peers

Tatum says he frequently works with the marketing department on a variety of communications issues, especially when it comes to media coverage. It’s important for hospital marketers and policy people to work together.

“A lot of public messaging has to be consistent with what we tell legislators in Atlanta.”

He also encourages colleagues to spend less time emailing colleagues and more time talking to each other.

“I’m a big fan of thanking people in person and not just emailing them thank you’s. Also, introduce yourself to people in your office. The next time you need something, they’ll be more likely to respond. When you’re in a big organization, you need to get out of your chair and meet people.”

Posted by Jessica Levco

10 top tweets from #raganhealthcare


At @WriterGirlAssoc, we recently attended Ragan’s Health Care Communicators conference at Johns Hopkins Medical Center in Baltimore. We loved going to the sessions and then, tweeting about them. Here are a few of our favorite tweets from #raganhealthcare.

1. @Lisa_Palacios: Having employees be part of your brand and understand it makes them ambassadors for your brand.

2. @mollyr: TL; DR = Too long, didn’t read. Attention spans are shrinking. Present content accordingly.

3. @dheady8: “Convey empathy through storytelling. Emotion always trumps reasoning,” @_MikeSchmidt

4. @amandatodo: Physicians on social: choose a platform & prepare them. Educate on how to use AS A PHYSICIAN, @TheDocSmitty

5. @CTrappe: Blogging can establish physicians as public thought leaders.

6. @JessicaMortvedt: Great tip by Sue Klein: “Consumers will choose you because you have engaged them w/ credible content and answers to questions.”

7. @LeadWithVideo: Through our content, “Celebrate those we serve, NOT ourselves,” said @_MikeSchmidt of @APHospital.

8. @webscribe: “If content is king, technology is queen.”

9. @chelseaamaral@vdollard explains: When there’s a crisis, social media IS the media.

10. @AdrinaWa “Create content to attract patients before they are patients!”

Interested in more top tweets? Check out some tweets we adore and key tweets from #mayoragan.

Posted by Jessica Levco

Why Your Hospital Needs a Patient Portal


One of the biggest trends in hospital marketing today is creating patient portals. These portals provide a variety of benefits and services to your staff and patients, in a digital format that’s easy for your patients to use.

Recently, we created more than 25 pages of content to update Indiana University Health’s patient portal. This portal allows patients to view lab results, pay bills and schedule appointments. But we know that not every patient is tech-savvy, so when we wrote the content, we wrote it like we were sitting down with the patient and showing him or her how to use it.

Of course, a patient portal is only useful if patients are actually using it. To help IU Health get patients logged into the portal, we created mini help manuals. For example, the first one we wrote is, “Access Your Account.” This manual shows patients how to log in and get started with the basics of the portal. Such step-by-step tutorials help to alleviate any fears and reduce intimidation about using an online portal.

IU Health’s patient portal is part of their overall EMR (Electronic Medical Record) strategy. With the new healthcare law, hospitals receive compensation when they complete EMRs, and the portal allows patients quick and easy access to their PHR (Personal Health Record). It’s a win-win for everyone. Another benefit of having a patient portal is IU Health can expect to see reduced call volume for their staff, since patients can use the portal to conveniently set appointments or request prescription refills, 24/7.

Need more help convincing your C-suite into updating your patient portal? Here are a few tips.

Posted by Danielle Quales

3 Simple SEO Tips


Does SEO make you want to scream SOS?

Relax. You don’t have to be a Search Engine Optimization expert to figure out how to make your website more searchable.

Basically, SEO is all about using keywords and phrases within your website content that people frequently Google. Then, you’ll use those keywords and phrases throughout your blog, drawing more traffic to your site.

Here’s how to do SEO for a website:

Pick powerful SEO keywords and phrases

Keywords and phrases matter because it’s the first step to bringing traffic to your website. When coming up with keywords and phrases, think about what you would Google.

Let’s be “meta” about this blog. Say you’re searching for a blog on SEO tips. You might search:

  • SEO
  • SEO tips
  • SEO keywords and phrases
  • How to do SEO for a website

It’s important to do both a combination of single keywords and long tail keywords (keywords with three words or more).

Single keywords are important because they are how your pages are found in Google and drive traffic to your website. Long tail keywords (phrases) are equally important. Although they get less search traffic than single keywords, a Forbes article recently said that long tail keywords can double sales to your site.

Writing SEO keywords and phrases into your website

Now that you have your SEO keywords and phrases, sprinkle them throughout your website at least 3 to 5 times each. In addition, put them in your page titles, meta descriptions and subheads.

Take a look at this blog copy. For our keywords and phrases, we’ve used:

  • SEO: 6 times
  • SEO keywords and phrases: 5 times
  • SEO tips: 3 times
  • How to do SEO for a website: 3 times

It’s important to include variations of your keywords and phrases. Keep in mind your keywords and phrases brought a reader to your site. Logically, it’s likely that using them throughout your content will keep them there.

Write content people will read

Sure, SEO matters — but so does writing content that people want to read.

When you write, talk to your audience like you’d want to be talked to. If people like you and your content, they’ll read it. They are also more likely to share it, which drives even more traffic to your site.


Posted by Laura DiGiulio