October 1, 2013

Summit Spotlight: NewYork-Presbyterian launches an app to save lives

By Randy Schwarz

Editor's Note: This post by Jessica Levco originally appeared on Ragan's Healthcare Communication News and previews a pre-conference workshop from the 5th Annual Health Care Social Media Summit in October, which is part of Social Media Week at Mayo Clinic

One organ donor can save up to eight lives.That’s the message NewYork-Presbyterian wanted to get across with its Facebook app, “1 for 8.” When you click on this app, you’ll see a collage of people who have received organ transplants. After clicking on a button that says, “Calculate and Share,” you can see how many lives you can save, based on your number of Facebook friends.At our fifth annual Health Care Social Media Summit at Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minn., you’ll learn about this app during the session, “Making cause-related marketing social.” Gina Czark and Jessica Fillinger, two hospital communicators, will share what they’ve learned and how they launched it.The app launched in April to promote Organ Donor Awareness Month. The goal was to encourage people to become registered donors. Nationally, 45 percent of people are organ donors, but in New York State, it’s only 20 percent. The hospital partnered with the New York Organ Group for this program.

There were 26 patients who agreed to be featured; they ranged from infants to 50-year-olds, receiving lungs, livers, kidneys, or hearts. Meanwhile, the New York Organ Donor Network created a campaign called, “Hate the Wait,” which featured patients who were still waiting for organs.

So far, more than 1,000 people have clicked on the app. It’s too hard to tell how many people have registered to donate. That’s because once a person clicks on the National Donate Life map, the marketing department can no longer track the person’s progress. There was talk of partnering with local DMVs for this app, but bureaucracy got in the way. Plus, the marketing department didn’t want this project to be strictly for New Yorkers.

“It wasn’t to promote our hospital,” says Gina Czark, the hospital’s director of social media. “We wanted to raise awareness about organ donations.”

The team promoted the app with about 10 posts each week on Facebook and Twitter. A popular Facebook post was a letter that a man wrote to a family whose relative had donated his organs. On Twitter, the team mentioned Dr. Oz, and he retweeted the app’s link.

The budget for this project was $5,000. This included app development, brochures and T-shirts. It also partnered with an ABC affiliate to do a special transplant story on TV. Staff wore blue and green during April to support the app.

“Organ donation can have a stigma behind it,” Czark says. “Unless it touches you personally, people don’t think about it until they are faced with a circumstance that they have to. We wanted to educate people, but we also wanted to have fun with it and get them to share it with their own community.”

The hospital made the app mobile-friendly so it can reach more people.

“Awareness of organ donation is needed year-round and not something that should be limited to an awareness month,” Czark says. “We want to educate the public about organ donation and register organ donors. If we accomplish that, we’ll be helping to save lives.”

See this page for details on all of the events in Social Media Week at Mayo Clinic (including links to Social Media Health Network member discounts), or go directly to the Ragan site to register for the Summit.

Choose a message to share 
Educating people about organ donation via social media:
Introducing the NewYork-Presbyterian Facebook app, “1 for 8.”
Can social media offer an effective means for finding new organ donors?

Tags: Case Studies, Events

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