The Power of Video (Hospitals)

Behold: The Power of Video
How hospitals are attracting patients and earning trust through video.

A lightbulb is only as good as the electrical wiring and switch it’s attached to. You need multiple parts, and a power source to effectively turn on the light. The same is true for consumers and marketers: You can have a great website, blog, Twitter account, etc., but you need something to be the power source. Something that illuminates and illustrates the point you are driving home with words.

There are two ways I can show you how video works: The first is from a science perspective and the second is from an experience one.

First, the science. Four types of learners exist: visual, auditory, read-write and kinesthetic. With the exception of read-write learners, the three other types must see something firsthand to learn the most about it. If you solely concentrate on the writing aspects, you are missing three-fourths of the learners who focus on the seeing ones. This could explain why incorporating videos onto a website is associated with increasing the length of time spent visiting a website, according to the American Medical Association.

Another consideration is to whom you are marketing — an affectionate term is the Sesame Street generation. Those ages 18 to 35 grew up watching Sesame Street, which featured short, yet informative video clips. The same kids have grown up and have the same attention span, which is about six and 20 minutes. But when it comes to video, the shorter the better.

Now for my anecdote: When M.D. News, one of the country’s largest business and practice management resources for physicians, was re-launching their web presence in coordination with the publication. But there was one thing missing: They wanted to have a YouTube and video presence. That’s where Critical Condition was born. These one-and-a-half to two-minute videos were created exclusively for the M.D. News Network on topics for physicians, including medical liability reform, physician reimbursement, and wrong-site surgeries.

The commentaries have gained both followers and recognition — including a merit award from the Web Health Awards, a site that recognizes quality digital health resources for consumers and health professionals. These short pieces were alongside big-time health names such as John Hopkins Medicine. And it all started with a man and a camera.

The Hospital Video Landscape
Video and YouTube channels are a popular driver for print and web traffic, and YouTube accounts actually preceded Twitter accounts for hospitals. For example, the very first hospital on YouTube was Arkansas Children’s Hospital, who set up their account on September 13, 2006. The first hospital Twitter was St. Jude Children’s Hospital who sent out their first tweet on October 23, 2007. Today, more than 750 United States hospitals have YouTube accounts, according to Edelman Digital Media.

Flash-forward to today where healthcare giant Mayo Clinic is the number one hospital channel on YouTube, with nearly 7,300 subscribers and more than 8 million video views. On the site, you can expect to find short updates about research, treatment advances, advice from Mayo Clinic experts and patient video guides to each of the clinic’s sites across the country.

Benefits of video include:

• Increased Search Engine Optimization (SEO), meaning your hospital’s site will show up more in Google searches.
• Builds brand awareness
• Increased web traffic
• Engages current and future patients
• Provides a vehicle for measurable results

The Case For YouTube
So maybe your hospital doesn’t have the Mayo Clinic’s budget. Understandable. What you do have are the experts, and people want to hear from them. There are ways you can make your videos look professional even if you don’t have big-bucks equipment. If you’re a non-profit, consider applying to be a YouTube partner, which allows you to launch a channel under your branding and include links back to your hospital’s homepage, Twitter, Facebook and other social media accounts. While it may sound like an extra step, it’s worth it. The goal is to use video to power your additional efforts. Without making those efforts easy to click to, you aren’t reaching video’s maximum potential. This also establishes your channel as a valid and credible account, which is vital in the healthcare realm.

A lot of people ask me about other video hosting sites, such as Vimeo or Social Library. While those are all great sites, they aren’t the place I would recommend you start, particularly over YouTube. For one, YouTube is the second-most visited website in the world. Google is number one. And Google owns YouTube. The connection is undeniable. You can house video content on your website that links to your YouTube account, but if you’re going to do video well, YouTube is the place to begin.

Populating Your Video Library
Imagine your channel as the opportunity to fill a library full of books (or in this case, videos). Start by uploading any existing commercials you have for your organization. Yeah. People used to avoid watching commercials and now they watch them online. But don’t stop there because video content must add value and not simply be advertising/advertorial. The most searched videos start with “how to,” “about” or “review.”

Next, think about the strengths of your hospital. Do you have technology that deserves a spotlight? A patient testimonial that’s sure to compel? Outstanding or well-known clinicians? Put ‘em on there. Promote future Foundation events and talk about patient care culture too. These can be shot with a simple camcorder or even a phone. Take prospective patients on a tour. These are all useful, quick, and easy ways that allow your targeted population to see what your hospital has to offer.

Proper Video Length
When you do start making videos, keep in mind the average YouTube length is 2 minutes and 46 seconds. NEVER post a video above that in length (save for the exception below). That’s because the shorter a video, the more likely it is to be shared.

Now for the exception: If you are really ready to step out of the box, consider webcasting a procedure. Methodist University Hospital in Memphis, Tenn., is just one of many hospitals that advertises live webcasts. One such example was an awake craniotomy where 2,212 viewers watched live and more than 21,555 viewers watched after the fact. Opening up your operating rooms to video accomplishes two things: One, it gives patients confidence because they have seen the physician in action and two, it creates a favorable view of the hospital as a whole.

“That is called ‘the halo effect,’” David Marlowe, past president of the American Hospital Association’s Society for Healthcare Strategy and Market Development told in a May 2009 edition. “If you can transplant my heart, you can probably fix my knee.”

Speaking of, Methodist confirmed three appointments were made from the webcast. And one of them was from a man volunteering to be the next webcast patient. If that’s not effective video, I’m not sure what is.

Have Fun With It
Video is not about doing what you could do in writing. You have to think about the visuals and entertainment. When Providence St. Vincent Medical Center in Portland, Oregon, enlisted 200 employees to create a pink gloves dance video for Breast Cancer Awareness Month, the video was watched nearly 2 million times in less than two weeks. You’d probably be surprised by the hidden talents in your organization. Musicians, jugglers, singers, dancers — or even someone who’s bad at these and tries anyway — is interesting and provides some insight into the traditionally cold view of the hospital.

One of the most popular areas of a hospital website is the physician finder/profile page. By filming a physician introduction, you provide more than a name and phone number — you are sharing a personality and creating an emotional pull. For example, one Google study found that after people watched a video from what they determined to be a credible source, they were 60 percent more likely to make direct contact with a physician or hospital.

Alegent Health in Omaha, Nebraska, created a successful physician intro video series, and further expanded to having the physicians describe key procedures so patients could have access to a quick refresher to support previous discussions.

Hospitals and Video: A Winning Combination
Looking for new ways to approach video also may help to meet healthcare reform’s provisions to engage in preventive care and lifestyle management. Make an education series, create an informational surgery on how to prepare for a surgery, or educate patients on chronic conditions, such as diabetes.

Think of your online message as a tapestry of different content (photos, videos, articles, your website), with the best content being video content. Producing video empowers and enlivens a more dynamic and varied content stream with which to power social-networking and social-sharing efforts to buttress and support your other efforts, such as blogging and Tweeting. Video powers the best search engine results as well. My social media company, Amplification, Inc., uses video content to support blog and Twitter efforts and vice-versa.

We recently celebrated the victory of Broward County Sheriff-Elect Scott Israel, for whom we created a YouTube video series. Beside introducing some “behind the candidate” and “talking-point” messaging, we also tried to get other members of the community to speak about Sheriff-Elect Israel. We also got his opinion on Miami Dolphins Quarterback Ryan Tannehill. Did I mention he also won? That speaks to the power of video. My message is this: Be a winner for your hospital for your hospital too. Use video to show me how well you are doing and paint a complete picture of all the things that make your institution special.

About The Author:
Idea Man and Marketing Ninja at Social Media Company, Amplification, Inc. Steve Cabeza has thousands of followers, and his cult is Twitter—or whatever social media platform he can get his hands on. Cabeza has served as Director of Marketing and Public Relations at Plantation General Hospital in Plantation, Fla.; Business Development Executive at True North Custom Media and Director of Marketing and Public Relations at the University of Miami Hospital. He took his skill set as a career marketer to play a part in helping companies capture social media influence through his company Amplification, Inc. ( Since April 2008, Amplification, Inc. has used social medial platforms ranging from Twitter to blogs to Delicious to provide meaningful messages to an often “noisy” field. Through focused messaging, networking and building social influence, Amplification, Inc. has become a key player in strategic brand engagement in South Florida and beyond.

Have a question? Ask the author.
Steve Cabeza Idea Man and Marketing Ninja
Amplification, Inc.

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