MCSMN Blog

August 29, 2019

How hospital moments can elevate your brand story

By David Henke
Mayo Clinic Social Media Network 2019 Annual Conference

David Henke will present "Capturing Moments in Your Hospital" at the Mayo Clinic Social Media Network 2019 Annual Conference. To learn more from David and other expert speakers, please join us!

“Get out into the street,” my first boss – a fiery small-town newspaper editor – would declare whenever something important was happening. “Find the small moment that tells the larger story.”

This was her go-to refrain – one that she deployed during major events, including the 2008 presidential election cycle and a significant flood that struck the town two years later. It has been a decade since I turned in my last news article, but her words have followed me through my career, to my current position as a digital communicator and social media manager for University of Minnesota Health and University of Minnesota Masonic Children’s Hospital.

The story of any hospital or health system is an immense one, a years-long narrative that involves hundreds or thousands of people. And every day that story changes: It evolves each time a patient walks in the door. How is it possible to make a story like this meaningful and accessible for our consumer audience?

At the children’s hospital, we focus on moments.

The moment when a nurse finds and returns a lost stuffed animal to a distraught child. The moment when a celebrity musician stops in a hospital room to tune a young cancer patient’s guitar. The moment when a mother hears her deceased son’s heart beating again in the body of a 16-month-old transplant recipient.

In one sense, these moments are small. By that, I mean they are intimate and personal. They happen in patient rooms or at bedsides. They belong to an individual or a family. But they are also powerful and emotionally transcendent. They speak to larger truths. Through them, we are able to tell the story of our organization, because each moment we share illuminates our values. After all, why spend so much time and money telling consumers that your health system offers compassionate care, when you can show them?

It’s not easy to share these stories, particularly in a highly regulated healthcare setting. No one person could do it alone. Elevating these moments takes the combined efforts and collaboration of many people – both inside and outside our system.

At the 2019 #MCSMN Annual Conference, my University of Minnesota Foundation colleague Ashley Lawson and I will take you through some of the behind-the-scenes work that occurs before we are able to share a moving photo or video: how we collaborate with hospital visitors, partners, advocates, media, patient families and each other to ensure a story is told with compassion. We’ll also talk about the story-telling tools, multimedia strategies and social media tactics we use to advance our mission.

We look forward to seeing you in Rochester in October!


David Henke is a brand storyteller with a passion for digital media and community-oriented writing. He leads blog, social media and reputation management efforts for University of Minnesota Health and University of Minnesota Masonic Children’s Hospital.

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Obviously these need to be done very delicately when involving patients; these are highly charged emotional environments, and to what extent- even with patient consent – are we taking advantage of them?

However one area that I think has equal if not mire value – especially economic value – is looking for physician stories for recruiting purposes. Remember, the projected physician shortage by 2030 is over 100,000 so physician recruiting is an important area to be focusing on now.

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Great post! This line really struck a chord with me: "…why spend so much time and money telling consumers that your health system offers compassionate care, when you can show them?" Excellent point!

COMMENT
@matthewrehrl

Obviously these need to be done very delicately when involving patients; these are highly charged emotional environments, and to what extent- even with patient consent – are we taking advantage of them?

However one area that I think has equal if not mire value – especially economic value – is looking for physician stories for recruiting purposes. Remember, the projected physician shortage by 2030 is over 100,000 so physician recruiting is an important area to be focusing on now.

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A thoughtful response, Matthew. I agree that healthcare marketers and communicators have a responsibility to tell these stories in a sensitive, appropriate manner. The ethics of publishing a story, video, or moment must also inform the decisions we make at every level. Often, I find that the patients we work with are enthusiastic about sharing. The experience for them can be cathartic, and can help connect them with communities, resources, and support networks they didn't know existed.

I also agree that physician stories are powerful. I enjoy asking physicians why they are so passionate about their work, because their answers are invariably personal, complex and fascinating. Their voices are a profound and absolutely necessary narrative in the healthcare conversation.

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