Healthcare Marketing

Top 8 Pinterest board categories for hospitals.


Pinterest, the virtual online pin board, seems to be the most recent trend that is starting to catch on in the healthcare world. It’s so new that even the trendsetters – Mayo Clinic, Children’s Hospital of Boston, etc. – only just launched their pages. With that, we thought it would be helpful to do a list of the top trends that we have seen from some of the hospital social leaders, and give examples in order to get some direction and inspiration to get started.

Top Trends of Hospitals on Pinterest:

  1. Recipes – During our research, we noticed that recipe boards were being repinned the most frequently. While many hospitals seem to be repurposing other user’s content to fill their recipe boards, Mayo Clinic has been developing and posting many of their own recipes, which is a unique way to help position themselves as a leader in health.
    Mayo Clinic Recipes board on Pinterest
  2. Fitness – The majority of hospital pages on Pinterest have fitness boards. This is another area in which Mayo Clinic is doing really well as they are posting fitness tips and videos from their health experts directly on
  3. Hospital spaces/design – Pinterest really is one of the best places to visually get across the idea of your brand, image and your hospital. This naturally means we see the masses using their boards to showcase their hospital layout, décor, etc. Check out these cool images from Phoenix Children’s Hospital.
    Phoenix Children's Hospital Pinterest board
  4. Clinical Areas – Specialty hospitals are focusing on having boards per specialty area. We think Cleveland Clinic’s boards for Colon Cancer are a great example of hospitals focuses on clinical areas. They do a really nice job of visually presenting data, info and background for someone interested in that key area.
  5. Patient Stories – People love real stories, and a patient story board allows viewers to feel that emotional side of your brand. Dayton Children’s Medical Center has a great example with their Miracle Stories board that also includes videos. This board is a true testament of how to get users engaged with your boards.
  6. Hospital FactsThe Cleveland Clinic has done a really nice job putting together some infographics about their system’s hard facts; quick and witty, making it actually interesting to learn about the hospital.
    The Cleveland Clinic Pinterest board
  7. Health Infographics - We think this is one of the greatest trends and most helpful for people, hospitals are building infographics simply put for health purposes. Scripps Health has some nice examples; love the when to call 9-1-1, when to visit urgent care vs. er, signs of a stroke, things that make life easier, visually.
  8. Safety Tips – We also noticed the majority of hospitals included some type of variation of a board dedicated to safety tips. We really like how some of the infographics make it easy to understand the information. Nationwide Kids has a great example of a safety board.

If you are just starting to think about creating a Pinterest page for your hospital, hopefully these trends give you a good base for your core boards. Also, note that it’s important to continuously add content, so pin and re-pin as often as you can. A good rule of thumb is to re-pin 4 times per day.

Have you seen any other trends or good examples of hospitals on Pinterest?

Innovative healthcare marketing example # 15.


When you think of “Centers of Excellence”, what comes to mind? I’d guess maybe highest quality. The best of the best. Specialized. Prestigious reputation. Esteem. That’s why when I heard Walmart was offering a Centers of Excellence program, it kinda stopped me in my tracks.  I thought the ultimate incongruity. I mean mini clinics are one thing, but this is ridiculous. Then I read on, learning that this Centers of Excellence program is for Walmart’s 1.4 million employees. A first-of-its-kind that will offer no-cost heart, spine and transplant surgeries at six of the nation’s most prestigious hospitals. Including the Mayo Clinic, Cleveland Clinic and Geisinger Medical Center. Employees  will receive 100% coverage, plus travel, lodging and food for the patient and caregiver.

I thought wow, how Walmart of them to negotiate bundled, volume-based value for their  health benefits. And positively brand-consistent to provide a one-stop-shop at these Centers of Excellence. To their credit, Walmart will also work with the six healthcare organizations to collectively share best practices collaboration. Kudos to Walmart for this innovation in healthcare value and delivery, as well as brand and employee morale boosting. Not to mention the six hospital partners who are boasting highest quality specialty care and outcomes at lower costs.

While we all hope not to be in the market for these healthcare services, we never know what lies around the corner. And Walmart's providing this Center of Excellence program makes me feel a little better about having them in the neighborhood. How about you?  

Innovative healthcare marketing example #14.


Music heals the body and soul. Which is why I think Mount Sinai Hospital Chicago’s new “Sounds of Sinai” fundraising innovation is really cool. It’s also cool that anyone can participate. You simply upload a video of your music performance (no matter how off-key and silly you may appear), let your peeps know, and voila, pledges for the hospital start coming in. All performances, including “favorites” and “highest pledged” are viewable on the site. This is the springboard for sharing to other social media sites such as Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and Pinterest.

The competition, spunk and goodwill make for a great internal morale and team booster for any level of hospital employee, from security guard to doctor. And what an inspiring opportunity for the whole Chicago community -  kids, parents, church groups, school choirs, employers. It's totally inclusive, allowing anyone to raise money for this leading inner city healthcare provider.

Earvin Magic Johnson, a strong supporter of the Chicago urban healthcare community, is the spokesperson and was the first to sing, with his own rendition of The Temptation's "My Girl" . But he's not even in first place! Take a look at the current leading video below (with over $1000 pledged). It's something you could imagine doing with your friends and colleagues.

The spirit and creativity displayed with Sounds of Sinai makes me feel good about this hospital. How about you?

Shedding some light on a new brand.


When Omnicare Health Plan embarked upon a recent name change and rebranding to CoventryCares of Michigan, we were honored to become their healthcare marketing partner. There were some unique factors to consider. While a local Michigan Medicaid provider, they are part of the national Coventry Health Care. Hence, names for all Medicaid health plan providers across the country were being changed to “CoventryCares of ___” (fill in the state – in our client's case, “Michigan”). The logo and themeline, “Lighting your path to good health”, had been designed at a corporate level. However, local health plans had the opportunity to create launch campaigns as desired and appropriate within the corporate framework.

So we went to work on a marketing communications plan, including marketing interviews with administrators and docs, review of market research and data, and competitive brand investigation. The end result is a hard-working campaign that fulfills many objectives: Name launch. Themeline launch. Rebranding. Touting of a unique adult dental benefit. Mention of other key benefits. Not to mention the eternal first objective: emotional connection with the target audience.


Transit Tails:


The visual ray of light consistently and uniquely conveys the brand position of illuminating people to good health. The campaign is now running and includes outdoor, transit, mobile, facebook engagement ads, posters and radio. We hear it's shedding some light on the CoventryCares of Michigan brand. Let us know your thoughts. 

Meds or Meditation?


Herbs? Essential Oils? Reiki? Acupuncture? I'm a believer, which is why I'm always thrilled to learn about the growing acceptance of alternative medicine. The University Hospital's Connor Integrative Medical Network, Cleveland, Ohio, is the latest I've read about. What got my attention is that as an academic medical center, University Hospital is touting their alternative medicine as "evidence-based" therapy. In this world of value-based reimbursement, results matter. And they are getting them.

More and more patients, tired of the pain meds, side effects and continued pain, are opting for natural remedies. Thankfully, half of all medical schools are now offering courses in alternative medicine. And while it's still not at all mainstream, coverage is growing. New Hampshire naturopathic docs just celebrated a big win in June with legislation providing insurance coverage for their services. Most of us still have to cough up the dough ourselves, but find it very worthwhile.

That's because naturopathic medicine is based on the belief that the human body has an innate healing ability. NDs find the underlying cause, helping to create a healing internal and external environment. Recommendations often involve dietary modification including "clean eating" (maybe why 2011 gluten-free sales were $2.7 billion, estimated to grow to $3.4 billion by 2015, according to a Euromonitor International estimate), herbal supplements, nutrients, exercise, massage, etc. When combined with traditional medicine, you get the best of both worlds. The problem for the patient has been it's so hard to know how to blend it all, when to listen to your MD or your ND, when to stop the meds and start the meditation.

Aside from the Arizona Center for Integrative Medicine, I haven't seen many hospitals or health systems leading the way in claiming an "alternative", "integrative", or "naturopathic" brand. But I predict as the evidence grows (and I'm confident it will), this brand position will grow. What do you think? 

Two viral videos that do way more than entertain.


Viral videos are an amazing phenomenon. Often, they’re purely about simple entertainment/procrastination. (How many times have my kids exclaimed, “Charlie, you bit my finger?” A lot.)

But videos with real messages have legs, too. You’ll find no better example, in my opinion, than the Pink Glove Dance.

Each time I watch this sweet and silly video of healthcare workers dancing around in their scrubs and surgical caps, it brings a smile to my face. The video stars staffers at Portland, Oregon’s Providence St. Vincent Medical Center. Everybody featured is wearing pink vinyl gloves and dancing for breast cancer awareness.

Well, the video was such a hit that its sponsor, Medline (the manufacturer of those pink gloves), had to make another one.

“If one video and one hospital could bring this much attention to breast cancer awareness and prevention,” reads a caption on the website, “think about the impact of a video that featured 20 times the people and facilities participating in it.”

The result is this sequel video. The video features 4,000 dancers from 14 different medical facilities and this time, they include healthcare workers and breast cancer survivors.



The sequel is just as fabulous as the first video, if not more.  The song, “You Won’t Dance Alone” by the Best Day Ever, is perfect. The choreography is really impressive. (Well, impressive for a bunch of people who spent their twenties in med school.)

But it’s the vast number of participants that makes me cry every time I watch the sequel. There are dancers from hospitals in Newark, NJ  to La Jolla, CA to Plano, TX and they are all working it. Their joy is infectious and incredibly moving. These healthcare workers (and janitors and administrators and lab techs etc.) are all helping women with breast cancer. They fight the disease every day. As a breast cancer survivor, I can attest—these videos really do matter.

That’s clearly why Medline is keeping the magic going. Today, July 2nd, they’ll announce the details for another Pink Glove Dance competition. You know I’m going to campaign for my amazing treatment team to submit a video. I’d also love to be part of one of those survivor dances.

Whether or not we Detroiters make the cut, I’ll just be glad to see the Pink Glove Dances continue. Do a little procrastinating and check them out. I promise you won’t regret the eight minutes (ten if you stick around to make a donation to the National Breast Cancer Foundation) you'll spend watching these advocates shake their booties for breast cancer.

Innovative healthcare marketing example #13.


What do you want to do when you're 100? If you're like me, you don't think much about it. Too busy with today's priorities - like getting to work on time, packing lunches and making the next track meet. But Florida Hospital's Healthy 100 campaign, especially the beautiful Healthcare Advertising Award winning spot below, will stop you in your tracks and make you ponder.


A successful marketing program emotionally connects and can make you think about things you really don't want to think about. We've done it with healthcare issues like organ donation, drunk driving and AIDS prevention. This hospital has me convinced of their vision of a world where people live to be a healthy 100 years old. They offer a wealth of positive body, mind and spirit tools to motivate longevity. Like healthy recipes, inspirational videos with adorable centenarians, healthful events, newsletters, deals on healthy products and services, even a mobile app to track your daily water intake. But it doesn't stop there. The hospital has forged ahead with community extensions into Healthy 100 Kids, Healthy 100 Church and an executive program. Facebook, Twitter and YouTube successfully echo each component of the vision, rounding out a wonderfully convergent campaign.

If you're not convinced you need to think about what you want to do when you're 100, use the Life Expectancy Calculator to see if all of this is worth your time. This innovative campaign makes me want to live to be a healthy 100, how about you?

9 insights to consider before developing a social media strategy for your hospital.


We are always trying to think of ways that our healthcare clients can successfully tap into social media in order to help them reach their marketing goals.  And with an industry that is slow to adapt to leveraging social, it’s hard to convince them that it’s imperative to participate (especially when there isn’t much research or good samples to reference that support the fact that it is worth the investment of time and money). 

So, when The Health Research Institute released an analysis of health care and social media, I was extremely interested to see what the data said and how it could be applied to our current and future healthcare clients. 

With that, I have honed in on some of the research that I found most relevant to our hospital clients, and have included 9 insights that should be considered when developing your social strategy. 

  1. Those with  poor health are more likely to engage about health

This is really interesting – as the ultimate goal on social platforms is getting people to truly engage with your brand.  With this, hospitals could think about developing campaigns and social programs specifically around a disease state.  For example, we have seen many children’s hospitals doing a good job at breaking into social, as their audience seems more engaged than those on the hospital’s brand page.  So, it would be interesting to see if service line pages specific to a disease state would do better, such as a page for your breast cancer center, to serve as a health resource. 

  1. 18-24 year olds are the most likely to trust/share/engage via social media regarding healthcare.

Trust Impact of Each Level

This brings me to the fact that one of the greatest times to build a relationship with the female healthcare decision maker is during the time she has her baby, as it’s one of the most positive experiences she will have with your brand.  Perhaps you could offer an application that allows her to easily share photos and updates on her baby’s development or an application that allows her to find a local playgroup.  A unique application available for expectant mothers that is a nice reference for inspiration is available via babygaga on Facebook

  1. 28% of consumers have supported a health related cause

I can truly appreciate this piece of data, as it proves that fans are passionate about health causes.   An idea to put this to work could quickly increase your fan base/followers.  Have your organization select a health cause to partner with and develop ideas and tactics to boost followers.

  1. 40% of consumers will post about negative care received at a hospital

While maintaining a social presence is important to help build relationships with your brand, it is equally important to monitor social channels to find out what people are saying and what they’re unhappy with, allowing you to improve the perception of the hospital.  Be sure that this component is included in your strategy, as you may be surprised at how harmful not knowing what others are saying could be to your reputation. Supporting this is the fact that 41% of consumers said that the info they found via social media would affect their choice in selecting a hospital/medical facility.

  1. 42% of consumers are likely to post about a doctor/nurse/provider if they had a positive experience.

This data supports the thought that people may look to social for referrals or second opinions.  Create an idea that with help foster sharing of positive experiences with your hospital, and make it something that people will really want to share. Be sure to ask yourself, what about this makes it interesting enough to share with others. 

  1. Most consumers expect to receive a response from a healthcare company via social media within 24 hours

Be sure to build this into your plan and have a highly thought-out process in place to ensure that this can happen.  Perhaps a simple “we are looking into this and will get back to you asap,” just letting them know that you are responsive, concerned and timely. 

  1. Consumers want ways to make their healthcare easier to manage (doc apts., apt. reminders, discounts/coupons, continued support post-treatment). 

Think of clever applications or tactics that can be incorporated within social outlets that will make people’s lives easier – an app allowing consumers to schedule an appointment, an app that sends patients reminders about their appointments, exclusive coupons for health screenings (i.e. $20 off a heart screening).  These serve as the content that is going to keep your fanbase engaged.

  1. 63% of consumers are concerned about sharing their health info, as they worry about public sharing


We know that for hospitals, HIPPA regulations have many worried about what they can and can’t do.  A great idea for remaining compliant,yet able to engage is to have a social policy in place guaranteeing that information will not be shared.  A good starting point on information in regards to the rules for establishing a HIPPA compliant social media strategy can be found on a blog from HIVE strategies. 

  1. Organizations are most concerned about integrating social media data/analytics and measuring the effectiveness/linking to ROI

When developing a strategy and a social plan, it’s important to set sound goals to measure the effectiveness of a campaign.  Determine what is important and feasible to the campaign per the strategy.  Is it increasing brand awareness?  Be sure to measure your fan increase and retention.  Is it spreading your brand message?  Look closely and analyze how often something was shared.  Or perhaps it is building an engaged fanbase.  With this you can monitor comments, shares and feedback rates. Just be sure your goals are realistic.  A blog post by Avinash Kaushik gives a breakdown of the best social media metrics to use as a starting point.

Have you seen any good examples of hospitals using social well, with this data in mind?  I would love to hear your thoughts.

Innovative healthcare marketing example #12.


Memorial Hermann will be doing more than putting pins in patients today. They will be pinning a live brain tumor resection. Brain surgery on Pinterest? Yep. I'm not sure if it's the right social platform - it's not where I'd go to get up to speed on leading brain surgery centers - but it's certainly innovative. As is the hospital's social media machine.

This Texas hospital performed the world's first live-tweeted open heart surgery a few weeks back. When this reaped 125 million views via Twitter, Storify and media coverage, they decided to go for it again. Adding in Pinterest.

Today's brain surgery will be performed by Dr. Dong Kim, the surgeon who operated on former congresswoman, Gabrielle Giffords. While surgeries have been tweeted in the past, this will be the first to share the feed from the surgeon's fiber optic microscope. Real time pics and videos will be posted on Twitter, YouTube and Storify.

According to Nielson @Plan, homemakers index 204 on Pinterest, meaning they are 104 times more likely to be on this site. So Pinterest definitely reaches the female healthcare decisionmaker. But will she want to look at photos of brain surgery while hunting for recipes and fashion tips?

(Image from

Time will tell. I think one thing's for sure. Memorial Hermann is living up to its themeline of "100 Years of Patient-Centered Care and Innovation." Not only with its team of expert docs, but its team of social media experts.

What do you think of surgeries on Pinterest? Is it over the top? Or is this hospital ahead of the curve?

Innovative healthcare marketing example # 11.


One man. In a box. For one month. No, he's not homeless. Just kinda unhealthy. Until Blue Cross Blue Shield of Minnesota put "Scott the Human Doing" in a glass apartment at the Mall of America. There he learned in the public eye, and with their help, how to be healthier. Sit-ups. Tai chi. Pilates. Cooking and eating fruits and vegies. Whatever his audience desired. Scott did exercises directed by Facebook and Twitter polls. He also spent a lot of time connecting with folks via posts, tweets and videoblogs. And marveling over the support they gave him, which he says made all the difference.  

The Human Do.Ing glass apartment

The brilliance in this disruptive campaign is the two way communication. We've all heard that we should exercise and eat better. But this campaign showed and engaged people. In a real and memorable way, with live results. As for the results? National buzz. Over 2 million social media impressions. Over 4300 Facebook fans. Over 500 Twitter followers. Thousands of on-site impressions from people at Minnesota's most popular tourist attraction. Not to mention Scott dropping 29 pounds and 110 cholesterol points in just 30 days.


The Human Doing is part of BCBS of Minnesota's "do campaign". Getting people to move and groove at home, work, school, their community, etc. to fight obesity. Testimonial TV ads spotlight people explaining the excuses they used of why they couldn't lose weight ("I told myself it was hereditary"). Each ends with the thinner, healthier person "do dancing" with the funny "do dance" guy who makes you smile.  

I think BCBS of Minnesota is doing a good job of getting people to do. What do you think?

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