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UCLA Health Lets Patient Voices Shine On Its Blog

by Sara Foster | Dec 04, 2018

This article was written by Jessica Levco, a healthcare writer who covered HCIC18 for Greystone.Net.

We all know how important it is for hospital marketers to tell patient stories. But what would it look like if patients actually told the stories themselves? image of blog graphic on computer screen

That’s what’s happening at UCLA Health, where marketers created UCLA Health Connect, a blog that allows patients to tell their own stories, in their own words. It gives a straightforward view of the care patients are receiving at UCLA Health.  

At the 22nd annual Healthcare Internet conference in Scottsdale, Ashley Anderson, social media manager at UCLA Health shared how she was able to give these patients a voice. She was joined by Ahava Leibtag, president of Aha Media Group.

“User-generated stories build trust,” Leibtag says. “Plus, it’s a great way for patients to engage with your brand.”

One blog is titled: “Overcoming the Grave” — a gallows humor pun (it’s about a patient overcoming Graves’ disease, an immune system disorder) you’d never see on a traditional hospital blog. There’s jargon-free medical sentences like, “I had a cholesteatoma, which is a growth in the ear that breaks all your ear stuff.” There’s opening lines like, “My mom came out of the elevator and heard ‘he’s code blue, he’s code blue,’ and she walked to my room where I had flat-lined.”

It’s unvarnished. Undistorted. Unembellished.

“When you read these stories, they’re real,” Leibtag says. “They’re gritty. What you lack in polish, you make up for authenticity.”

Patients are encouraged to share their stories by responding to call-outs across the website and print collateral about the blog within the hospital. Anderson also found a goldmine for patient stories: Yelp.

“If patients posted a review on Yelp, I’d contact them and ask them if they could share it on our site,” Anderson says.

Besides posting just patient-generated stories, the marketing team produces their own stories, too. These tend to be around trendy topics (Is Pokemon GO a healthy game?) or wellness topics (7 foods for a healthy heart).

“Since the blog launched, more of our partners have expressed an interested in re-sharing our content on their platforms and more of our staff have expressed an interest in participating in blog posts as subject matter experts,” Anderson says.

You can hear this HCIC18 concurrent session, complete with slides, in its entirety with Rewind! Rewind – audio recordings of all concurrent and keynote sessions, synced with the slide decks - will be available in December, 2018. Click here to sign up for Rewind.

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