March 10, 2011

Member Profile: Dignity Health (formerly Catholic Healthcare West)


Editor's Note: This post is by Mark Viden, Director, Digital Strategy & Brand Management, for Catholic Healthcare West, and is part of a series of posts by and about members of the Social Media Health Network. For a list of members and information on how your organization can join, see the Network tab.

Catholic Healthcare West (CHW), headquartered in San Francisco, CA, is a system of 40 hospitals and medical centers in California, Arizona, and Nevada. Founded in 1986, it is one of the nation’s largest not-for-profit health care systems and the largest private hospital system in California. CHW is committed to delivering compassionate, high-quality, affordable health care services with special attention to the poor and underserved. The CHW network of nearly 10,000 physicians and approximately 54,000 employees provides health care services to more than five million people annually.

CHW’s social media strategy, endorsed by CHW’s Board of Directors in June of 2010, comprise three key areas:

1. Internal Stakeholders: To better connect employees and physicians, assist them in migrating best practices, and enhance their ability to advance creative solutions
2. External Stakeholders: To engage with patients and the community at large through sharing of information, promoting CHW’s services, and creating an open environment to receive feedback about (and proactively resolve) perceptions of CHW’s service
3. Thought Leadership: To enhance organizational reputation and help promote advocacy, public policy, and philanthropic goals.

For internal stakeholders, CHW uses a variety of tools to link employees and physicians with each other, include Microsoft Sharepoint and Cisco’s video-sharing platform, which we have named “QTube.” QTube, launched four months ago, is being rolled out to key clinical contacts with the goal that best practices are most easily migrated using short video clips. Additionally, internal blogs and discussion boards have taken root organically, with department-to-department conversations, many focused on disease-specific topics.

For external audiences, CHW and its member hospitals primarily utilize Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube to communicate and establish conversations with those in the communities we serve. Each hospital has its own social media presence, many of which are a key tactic in the marketing campaigns and on-going service quality improvement.

To advance our organizational reputation, we have begun listening in on relevant health care forums and blogs, gaining insight and context that will provide credibility should we participate in future conversations. Additionally, we have begun creating small, informal dialogues on policy issues including health care reform, community benefit, and population management on various locations within our system and hospital websites.

A small but powerful example of how social media can alter the daily dynamics of our employees is evidenced through the use of a Twitter feed at one of our Arizona facilities. Previously when management needed to bring on additional nurses, an employee had to spend a half-day calling each potential nurse to inquire if he or she could come in to this shift. Now when the unexpected need for more nurses arises, they simply send a tweet with the request, and typically have that shift staffed in 30 minutes.

Finally, it is our hope that by actively participating in the Social Media Health Network, we will improve the level of care we provide our patients by establishing new channels of communication that reach directly to our various stakeholders.

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