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Conference Share: How Market Leaders Advance Strategy through Storytelling

Conference Share: How Market Leaders Advance Strategy through Storytelling

28 February, 2020

I spy …
good marketing!

If you have a sneaking suspicion your patient stories are an untapped wealth of content, you are right! Read and learn how Washington Health System in Washington, PA utilizes storytelling and gets results!

The Mid-Atlantic Society for Healthcare Strategy and Market Development (MASHSMD) Conference is a great opportunity for healthcare marketers, communications and strategic planners to network, see some excellent presentations and learn.

When I revisited my notes from the May 2019 conference I realized I saw some great marketing and I’d like to share it with you.

One of my favorite workshops was:

How Market Leaders Advance Strategy through Storytelling

Presented by Stephanie Wagoner, Washington Health System and Heather Hammond, True North Custom

I’m a HUGE FAN of original photography, your patients your doctors. There is no other way to tell your stories. So when Stephanie Wagoner of Washington Health System and Heather Hammond of True North Custom shared the story of Cecelia by telling us her patient story and showing the original photography they had shot of her, I realized later that the four original photos they showed, shouldered the responsibility and could have gone solo and told the story on their own. 

 

Heartstrings pulled, relatable content, a patient reassured. Bravo!

Heather and Stephanie explained

What They Did and Why It Works

  • Patient story → Creates empathy
  • Speak to multiple service lines → Organizational buy-in and support
  • Use custom photos → Storied and memorable
  • Touched on universal truths →  Facing and overcoming fears speaks to everyone

What else could Washington Health System do with this great story?

Stephanie Wagoner, Manager Marketing and Community Relations, Washington Health System and Heather Hammond, True North Custom developed a comprehensive content strategy. 

They told Cecilia’s story:

  • In their newsletter
  • On their website
  • Designed posters for the hospital elevators and exam rooms
  • Created bite-sized bits of content for social media
  • Screen savers which is employee-facing and serves as a reminder

How does Washington Health System keep the good stories coming?

They have built a culture of storytelling. It’s a multi-prong approach:

  • They ask their healthcare professionals to share their care stories
    - Utilizing a LEAN Strategy to stop waste
    - Every day, 10-15 mins they re-group at the Huddle Board which lists their priorities and helps teams focus on new improvements and metrics.
          - For example, around safety issues, they explain scenarios using stories.
  • On their website where patient stories are posted, there is a large button “Tell us your story?” They are actively recruiting stories from patients.
    - A print card is also used with the “Tell us your Washington Health System story.”
  • Caregiver Appreciation Cards are used in the hospital. 
    If so inclined, a patient fills out the:
    - Name of the employee or physician they want to recognize
    - How did they make your visit a pleasant one?
    - Which of our value(s) did your caregiver demonstrate?
    - Patient and Family Focus
    - Compassion
    - Communication
    - Respect
    - Integrity
    - Their name and room number is optional 
  • In 2018 the Washington Health System changed the solicitation letter to $500 and under donors to include a patient story. They doubled the donors and doubled the money!
  • Gary B. Weinstein, President & CEO, Washington Health System responds in writing to comments and patients stories left on their website and via the patient experience cards. He assures patients he will pass along their comments to the physicians and employees. 

The proof that the strategy is working? Lots of stories “bubble up,” it’s proof of a storytelling culture.

How has storytelling impacted your marketing efforts?

Stephanie Wagoner, Manager Marketing and Community Relations, Washington Health System explained, “Storytelling has made our marketing efforts more memorable and impactful, patients are telling our story.”

In the past their newsletter was very clinical and every issue they received 10 calls from readers asking to be removed from their mailing list. With the storytelling approach, less than 10 people have asked to be removed in a whole year!

The proof is also in the health systems strength. In 2018 the Washington Health System changed the solicitation letter to $500 and under donors to include a patient story. They doubled the donors and doubled the money! In addition, they completed a 7 million dollar renovation and are a community hospital, still delivering babies and serving their community!

Thanks to Stephanie Wagoner, Manager Marketing and Community Relations, Washington Health System and Heather Hammond, True North Custom for attending the #MASHSMD Conference and sharing their success and providing the excellent information on how to build a storytelling culture in your health system!

Would you like to get these results for your health system?

Shout if you want to talk original photography and video, how it tells your patient stories and can help you create bite-size, snack-able content that gets results.

We'd love to help you, let's talk. stephanie@strategic.health  or 443.315.1282

To learn more about The Mid-Atlantic Society for Healthcare Strategy and Market Development visit MASHSMD.com