Boston Medical Center's new thought leadership platform, HealthCity, just launched in May of 2019 — but work on the project began more than a year earlier.
Digital Editor Amanda Doyle and Social Media Manager Lily Vautour — both SocialMedia.org Health members — sat down to walk through the prep work and launch of this new initiative.
The idea of HealthCity came about to fulfill a need when Director of Content Ray Hainer and VP Rob Graham saw the BMC story wasn't being told in an organized, strategic way — which meant it wasn't being heard.
According to Amanda, one of HealthCity's key goals was to help establish BMC as a thought leader.
Lily, who previously worked at Boston Children's, said they'd had three blogs fueling their social strategy. “When I started here about a year ago, not having a consistent publishing platform was a big challenge for us on social,” she said. “We recognized that this was necessary from a social side. And from a reputation building standpoint, it was something that's worth putting a lot of resources, time, and energy into.”
Beyond being a steady source of great content, the team at Boston Medical Center also saw the need to establish their voice in one of healthcare’s most competitive markets.
HealthCity is designed to feature the work and perspectives happening at BMC. “We want to reshape the reputation of BMC, but it goes beyond that,” Amanda said. “Our vision and philosophy is about equitable, sustainable, and open source healthcare. HealthCity drives that mission forward.”
The work to conceive and launch HealthCity took nearly a year — and it was completely done with in-house resources.
Like most initiatives of this scale, the HealthCity team started with the critical first step: buy-in and feedback. They worked across the organization to involve stakeholders from a wide range of teams.
“There was quite a ramp-up period before we were actually public facing with our content. We had a long period of circulating the strategy and getting buy-in from stakeholders here at the hospital,” Amanda said. “It's been important for HealthCity's success, because everyone was able to give some sort of input.”
The design and build of the site itself was done internally, and they sourced the initial content based on both nationally trending topics as well as current initiatives at BMC.
For the initial launch and promotion of HealthCity, Lily and Amanda leaned on their existing network of BMC advocates.
“We've been actively leveraging them and we're still working on getting them the content more easily to tweet out,” Lily said. The team did an initial email blast to drive engagement from those providers.
BMC's CEO, Kate Walsh, has perhaps been the most supportive and shared it at their “townhall” meetings to promote the platform across the organization.
“It's still a work in progress,” Lily said.
Lily said they’re already seeing the benefits of HealthCity across their social media strategy.
They didn't have a consistent publishing platform before HealthCity and had been relying on media news hits, patient stories, and videos. “We had consistent content, but it hasn't been as focused on the core mission of BMC like HealthCity is,” Lily said. “It's been nice to have a consistent content stream that shares information about the topics this hospital cares about.”
She added that the consistent flow of content has allowed them to think more strategically about the visual side of social media. “It's impacted how we think about sharing these stories on Instagram,” Lily said. “We have a graphic designer who sits on our team, and we've been able to use his abilities to visualize these stories in a swipe-through Instagram post or Instagram story format when you can't link through to the article.”
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There are a million things we can talk about with families in pediatric visits: toilet training 🚽, sleep💤, juice consumption🥤, bike helmets 🚴🏽♀️ — but also trauma, racism, and financial instability 💵. Social problems are now the main driver of poor health in children, with 40% of children affected by low income. Still, the standard of care hasn't caught up. Learn more about how providers can reimagine care delivery to make a real difference in the full article on HealthCity ➡️ Link in bio. #pediatrics #SDoH #socialdeterminants #bostonmedicalcenter #childhealth #healthcare #healthcaredelivery
While HealthCity is still in its early days, Amanda and Lily said their team is already seeing a great response both internally and externally.
“With our 100+ providers from BMC on Twitter, it's nice to have content that we can share out,” Lily said. “It's about them, it's about their colleagues, and now it's on a BMC domain. We've been seeing a ton of engagement on Twitter from our own providers, which is really great validation for what we're doing.”
Externally, they’re seeing the foundation come together for a platform that elevates BMC’s role in healthcare innovation — not just in Boston, but nationally.
According to Lily, they're expanding the audience who BMC is reaching, because they're producing more content that's interesting to a wider audience. “It's definitely interesting to our patients to an extent, but even more so to potential funders, partners, and community members,” she said. “I look forward to this site helping us engage better with those groups on social that can translate to collaborations outside of this site.”
The team recently covered a housing panel event hosted by the Boston University School of Social Work. They tagged the school, who then retweeted the article, putting HealthCity and BMC in front of their extended audiences.
“Two state representatives and the local chapter of the National Association of Social Workers engaged with that content, driving important awareness for something that otherwise likely would have flown under the radar,” Amanda said. “We hope to see more of this type of reach as we continue to tell stories that matter to the broader healthcare ecosystem.”
Looking ahead, Amanda and Lily say they’re excited about a platform to advance healthcare initiatives beyond the walls of Boston Medical Center.
Down the line they hope to see HealthCity feature a variety of organizations and programs to drive forward a unifying goal of realizing a system that builds health even beyond the hospital walls. “Ultimately, we'd love to see HealthCity be a big contender among some of those other voices in the space, so it's one of the first places you think of when looking for innovative ideas in healthcare,” Amanda said. “There's a real attitude here that it's not just about us. Building a better system is a team sport, and we can help by sharing ideas.”