A Publication of WTVP

We’ve talked often about the advantages of living and working in the Peoria area, not only from a healthcare perspective, but for a wide variety of reasons, such as jobs, housing, schools, entertainment and access to larger cities for a quick getaway. One of the other things we are blessed with is media access. Some might not see that as always a good thing, but at OSF Saint Francis Medical Center and Children’s Hospital of Illinois, we embrace it.

The members of our local media—television, newspaper, radio and magazines like iBi—work hard to keep us informed. And we always appreciate being able to share what’s new and exciting inside our doors. Many of my fellow administrators at hospitals around the country don’t always have such a broad range of media opportunities.

While we look to the traditional media often to tell our stories, there has been a change in the landscape in recent years. The Internet and social media has changed the way we communicate with potential patients—and how they are getting healthcare information.

Some interesting stats from a recent Pew Internet and American Life Project, a project of the Pew Research Center:

At OSF Saint Francis, not only do we have our website and an internal blog for employees, we have a YouTube channel, Facebook page and Twitter account. Children’s Hospital, the College of Nursing, and even the Sister’s of the Third Order of St. Francis are also on Facebook!

With all these new communication outlets comes added responsibility. I’ll admit, I was not enthusiastic when I was first approached about doing an internal CEO blog for employees a little over two years ago, and we’ve made a few adjustments along the way. But the feedback I have received through the blog has been invaluable. It gives our employees a voice in sharing things they might not otherwise feel comfortable doing.

The Facebook page has required similar careful thought and management. In the world of healthcare, you must always be conscious of patient privacy. You can’t share any information that might identify someone, even unintentionally. What if somebody comments on one of our pages about another patient? At the same time, we encourage patients and family members to come to us as their first stop for healthcare information. We are constantly monitoring what is said out of respect for those we serve.

It’s a fine line we must walk between sharing information, but not too much! We expect social media to continue to explode in the coming years, and it will be up to our Strategic Communications team to manage it, because as a healthcare institution, we need to continue to be a respected source of health information. iBi