After nearly six years spanning two stints at Hospitals & Health Networks, this is my final post from our Chicago headquarters — I'm moving on next week to a new position with GYMR Public Relations in Washington, D.C.
What I'll miss most about my job, I think, are all the letters, emails and comments from you, the readers. Since we launched H&HN Daily two years ago, I've appreciated the volume of feedback we've received, which has helped shape our coverage in ways I never thought possible.
Back when I was working as a print writer, I would develop a story about, say, patient satisfaction or health care leadership after hours of research, interviews with sources and other traditional avenues of the trade. Today, thanks to social media and other digital interaction, I can float a trial balloon about an upcoming article and immediately hear from the people in the field — hospital CEOs, clinicians and other health care leaders — whose job it is to execute what I'm writing about, which I can immediately integrate into our coverage.
Indeed, some of the best sources I've gotten in the last few years have started with a comment on our website, an email or another form of digital communication, which has given our publication a better insight into the day-to-day concerns of our readers than we ever had before. And while journalism, like health care, is in the middle of an era of challenge and transition, the opportunities to connect with readers and create a publication that truly reflects their experiences has never been greater.
And from what I hear from hospitals these days, the opportunities for better patient interaction due to social media and other online communication tools have never been greater, either. Four years ago, when Twitter started to take off, I wrote a story about the emergence of the medium as a marketing tool for hospitals, and the rise of live-tweeted videotaped surgical procedures, as well as the emergence of a small but growing cohort of hospital CEOs who were also social media junkies. I admit to being skeptical about that level of interaction, especially in a clinical setting, but today, blogging CEOs and surgical videos are commonplace ways of connecting with both longtime and potential patients.
These tools are effective customer service vehicles, as well; in the HCAHPS era, where patient satisfaction scores literally impact the bottom line, developing the secret sauce of a patient-friendly environment is a challenge for all hospital CEOs. Today, hospital marketing departments can actually engage their customers one-on-one on Twitter or Facebook, and potentially fix complaints or problems immediately, before a patient considers another provider.
Getting off my soapbox and wrapping up, I want to thank all of you who have commented, emailed or written to me (one of the most thought-provoking responses I've received recently, as it happens, came in the form of an unsigned letter via snail mail) with ideas, observations or suggestions. Your feedback is truly appreciated, and is essential to developing the content we provide.
Please send future correspondence to my colleague, Matthew Weinstock, who will be managing H&HN Daily from here on out, at firstname.lastname@example.org.