MCSMN Blog

August 8, 2011

Member Profile: Providence Health & Services

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Editor’s Note: This post is by O.T. Millsap, System Manager for Internet & New Media of Providence Health & Services, 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.

Providence Health & Services is a not-for-profit Catholic health care ministry committed to providing for the needs of the communities it serves – especially those who are poor and vulnerable. Providence continues a tradition of caring that the Sisters of Providence began more than 155 years ago.

Providence’s comprehensive scope of services includes 27 hospitals, 214 physician clinics, senior services and supportive housing, a health plan, a liberal arts university, a high school and many other health and educational services. The health system spans five states – Alaska, California, Montana, Oregon and Washington – with its system office located in Renton, Washington.  Providence ministries employ more than 52,000 people who serve millions of people in 42 communities.

Providence collaborates with government agencies, churches, schools, charitable foundations, universities, research facilities and other partners to provide a lasting community benefit.  The Internet along with burgeoning social media tools provide us with new avenues for communication, collaboration and care across all our ministries.  Answering the call of our patients -- know me,  care for me,  ease my way --  is a guiding vision that ensures we provide a connected experience of care for every person we serve. We believe social media present a number of opportunities to foster new types of relationships to carry out this vision.

In the last two years, we have seen a rapid proliferation of Facebook pages, Twitter accounts, and YouTube channels springing from our ministries from Anchorage to Los Angeles, and we have created corporate policies and guidelines as guardrails to help keep these efforts focused and evolving as useful tools.  As this technology is shifting constantly, keeping our knowledgebase, training, and monitoring resources up-to-date is a challenge for us.  Managed primarily by our marketing and communication staffs from across the system, Facebook pages in particular have been proliferating – but to what end?  Twitter is being tested in various ways with mixed results, and we had an early mega-hit on YouTube with the Pink Glove Dance video, which has recorded more than 13 million views.  We have exactly one patient-oriented blog, which is very impressive for its quality but it is very labor intensive to produce. 

As a partner in SMHN, we are very interested in exploring platform and content syndication models that can be used within our own system as well as conceptually in larger networks. We believe we should not have to invent our own version of this if there are successful practices and experiences that we can learn from others.  Sharing our successes and best practices for reaching patients and creating new models of care in a changing health care environment will benefit the industry and the populations we serve.  We are very excited about the work and opportunities ahead.

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