Biz Blog Profile Series: Nick's Blog - Windber Medical Center


Biz Blog Profile is a behind the scene look at how corporations, non profits and higher education institutions are using blogs to support their marketing goals.

Nicholas Jacobs', President and CEO of Windber Medical Center & Winder Research Institute, blog story began with a suggestion to blog from an 80-year old friend. Nick is no stranger when it comes to innovation, risks or pushing the envelop. He quickly got it and realized that a blog could help him connect to "...the people who are making your personal future possible. I write, they comment we connect. That's what it's all about."

What makes Nick's Blog important, from a blog history perspective, is that it's one of the first blogs written by a hospital. And I love that the blog is not buried deep within the website. Not only is it linked from WMC's home page but is prominately highlighted.

Nick is using the blog to communicate to multiple audiences from employees to patients to docs, the public, and of course, his board. On May 25th he leveraged the blog for crisis management - to hault rumors about a layoff. Nicholas Jacobs' Nick Blog is an excellent example of how to do a CEO blog right.

Biz Blog Profile: Nick's Blog

Windber_medical_center_logo_1About Windber Medical Center & Windber Research Institute

At both WRI and WMC, we are attempting to change the delivery of health care in the United States. Both Windber Medical Center and Windber Research Institute are organized and run unlike any other hospital or research institute in the United States. We don't want to deliver what people will like. We want to deliver what people will LOVE.

While offering all the latest technology found in only the best hospitals, the people of Windber Medical Center understand that the true power of healing lies not only in the tools of medicine but in the hearts of the people providing the care.

The Windber Research Institute is a catalyst in the creation of the next-generation of medicine, integrating basic and clinical research with an emphasis on improving patient care and the quality of life for the patient and their family by providing clinical answers to the problems posted by physicians, translation medicine.

Why Windber Medical Center & Windber Research Institute is Blogging

In 1985, the former publicity director of the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra, Zane Knauss, came into my life as a consultant and a friend, and he has been there ever since. Although Zane is approaching his eighth decade, his mind is a as active and exciting as ever. Several months ago he called us and said, "Why aren't you Blogging?" After he explained what he was talking about, we replied, "Okay we'll start today." And we did.

How Blogs Fit Into Windber Medical Center & Windber Research Institute's Marketing/ Community Outreach Strategies.

As one of my former CEO's use to say, "The secret is there is NO secret." We have always tired to run an organization that shares everything with our employees. The Blog serves us well.

We are in an area where the average person has lived in their own homes for 38 plus years, and we have had a very difficult time becoming "heroes in our own home town." Even though we have appeared in the Wall Street Journal twice, Fortune, Forbes, USAToday, The Today Show and a dozen other prestigious media outlets, we are still just Windber Medical Center to many of our local citizens. Consequently, we have tried to pull out the stops to ensure that our public has as much access as possible to our successes and challenges. The Blog services us well.

Marketing & Promotion
How Windber Medical Center & Windber Research Institute is Marketing/Promoting Its Blog

Obviously, it's promoted on our website. Other than that it's been word-of-mouth, and the fact that only 5,000 people have hit the site so far tells me that we are not dong a real bang up job of promoting it.

>Is the blog integrated into other marketing or community outreach strategies/programs?
Because my background is marketing, our community outreach and marketing strategies are an integral part of this effort.

>In addition to the great article in Fortune, has there been much media coverage?

Selling-in Management
Reactions of peers, physicians, patients, staff and board members

Truthfully, the only feedback that we've gotten from our docs, boards, patients and staff has been "I read it in your blog." With issues that cost under $50K, my philosophy has always been don't ask for permission, ask for forgiveness.

>Did you have to first gain permission from your board?
Actually, I never even considered getting permission from our board.

>How are you handling HIPPA regulations?
HIPPA is a daily part of everything that we do, but every time we believe that we have taken every possible HIPPA rule into consideration, we walk into a semi-private room and realize how very stupid this program can be because there's nothing HIPPA between those curtains.

>What were the reactions from your peer?
"I saw that on your blog." " Read Nick's Blog if you want to know what he's really doing."

Do You Think Blogs Will Gain Acceptance With The Healthcare Community to the Extent that Blog Strategies Will Be Adopted?

It's been my belief that, unlike me, hospital administrators are usually very conservative and don't want to be first in most things that could have backlash of any type. They're not typically risk takers when it comes to public relations. It will be interesting to see.

>What will it take to get hospitals, docs and other healthcare providers blogging?
What did it take to get them to use computers? A wave of public support or outcry, or the chance that they will be left financially in their own dust?

Lessons Learned
What would you tell other healthcare organizations and docs that are considering launching a blog?

What are you waiting for. It helps to fill in those extra 50 minutes a week that you would have spent "having a life." I love it but I love to write.

Has Blogging Been Worth Your Time, Energy and Resources?

Sure, it's worth it. It's worth it every time an employee thanks us for the update or a perfect stranger says, "Yeah, I read that in your blog." It's getting the word out in ways that would never have been possible even five years ago.

Nicholas Jacob's Take On Blogs
Having started my professional life as an educator, the one thing that has made hospital administration difficult is not having a daily shot at the people you care about most away from home, the people who can impact your life the most deeply, and the people who are making your personal future possible. The Blog has returned a small sense of connectedness to my life. I write, they comment, we connect. That is what it is all about.


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Tracked on Sep 29, 2005 12:53:48 PM


Nick is exactly right, blogs allow people, even people selling insurance to connect with people on a personal level.

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