Likeability matters in any organization and blogging can help.
Oftentimes, it’s easy to underestimate the value of likeability when your organization revolves around grave health matters. Here are six tips to make your blog more likeable and welcoming to your patients long before they step into your hospital.
#1. Listen & Respond
When people take the time to leave comments on your blog, it’s usually because they have something important to say. Read and pay attention to their comments and you will discover their needs and challenges, which you can use to improve your services or provide specific support. Comments also help you understand visitor feedback to continue to write articles that are relevant, helpful, and likeable to your community.
#2. Ask Questions
Ask questions that spark conversation and increase engagement. Let your blog be a place for regular discussion, which encourages others to join in. At the end of your blog posts, always include a short question to jump-start a discussion. For example, say your blog post was entitled, 5 Ways to Deal with a Cancer Diagnosis. At the end of the article ask, “Are these tips helpful?” or “What other ways have you or someone you know dealt with a cancer diagnosis?” Asking questions gives you an opportunity to find out more about your community and encourage conversation.
#3. Be Transparent
Use your blog to talk about issues that patients need to know about – even if these things are unpleasant. For instance, let’s say your hospital is experiencing a specific challenge, e.g. a shortage of physicians. Instead of shying away from the issue, talk about it on your blog while reinforcing your commitment to high-quality patient care even in these difficult circumstances. By being transparent, you are setting the tone for wanting to engage in an open and trusting way, and your audience will like and respect you for it.
#4. Provide Value
There’s a lot of talk in the healthcare industry about value – value-based purchasing, value-based healthcare, etc. These discussions tend to focus mostly on cost-efficiency in treatment. But the kind of value I’m talking about is different. It’s about understanding your patients’ perceptions of value and providing that for them.
Greg Judd (founder of Health Value Innovation), in his article, What You Need to Know About Three New Value-Based Healthcare Reports, puts it this way: “Ultimately it is the person receiving treatment…whose perception of value matters the most.”
Hospital administrators can gain fresh insights from “real” value-based healthcare by inviting patients to discuss this topic from their perspective. Blogs provide a non-threatening space to have this discussion and to record feedback in the form of Q&A’s, video interviews or podcasts. The double-benefit here is that patients feel valued while hospitals learn how to provide the kind of content that matters to those receiving treatment.
#5. Admit Mistakes
Mistakes occur in every hospital in the country, according to a June CNN article titled, 10 Shocking Medical Mistakes. Some offenses are minor, such as ER waiting games, but others are more serious, such as the Hepatitis C outbreak that originated at Exeter Hospital in New Hampshire between April 2011 and May 2012.
In the latter case, the President and CEO of Exeter, Kevin Callahan, did the right (and likeable) thing by issuing a public apology, which was posted on YouTube and on the hospital’s website (they do not appear to have a blog).
Medical mistakes can be deeply disturbing and a mere apology in a blog post does not repair the damage caused. But it shows empathy and concern for the lives that have been affected – and people like that. As more organizations take to the social web to address their mistakes, hospitals in particular can learn from this experience and begin to use their blogs as platforms to say, “We’re sorry.”
#6. Keep Things Simple
If you want to be more likeable, it helps if you use plain, simple language on your blog to ensure your message is easily understood. Patients desperately want ease and simplicity in healthcare messaging. They want to understand what you’re saying without wondering what the big words mean. If you use complicated words, you will obfuscate your message. (See what I mean?)
Simplicity on your blog also eliminates confusion and leads to more trust. Take a quick look at your blog and see if there are any complicated features that may cause user friction, e.g. ‘log in to comment,’ captcha features, etc.
Along with high-quality care and competence, patients appreciate being treated with kindness and compassion. A hospital blog can provide this perception long before patients ever set foot in your hospital. By offering helpful, likeable content, your hospital differentiates itself and sends a strong message that your patients are important and cared for.
Over to you: Do you have a likeable hospital blog? What other tips can you add to this list? Tell us about them below.