The program was born out of the need for a more streamlined way to share patients' journeys.
“We had gotten a lot of phone calls and emails from our doctors and nurses telling us to go meet certain patients because they could be good ambassadors for the hospital,” Lexie said. But there was no organized system to communicate this type of potential content. “This program became a great way to create user-generated content and organize all of the different requests we were getting,” she said.
The hospital had also just done a website redesign, creating an opportunity for Maggie and Lexie to launch a page on the new site dedicated to the “Share Your Story” initiative.
The team was able to launch on the hospital's website within a matter of months.
In March 2018, they built a landing page on Texas Scottish Rite Hospital for Children's new website. The team did a soft launch of the landing page to collect submissions, and then, in June, they shared their first “Share Your Story” blog post.
Then, the information was put into a Smartsheet. “It basically aggregates information into a spreadsheet and everybody on our team who's involved in ‘Share Your Story' has access to it, ” Lexie said. “We set up notifications so everybody gets an alert when there's a new submission, and it gives you a brief outline of what that submission is.”
Lexie and Maggie said the stories they receive can be used to create different types of content for different platforms.
Maggie explained that before launching this program, they had mostly siloed content into different channels. “We saw this as an opportunity to utilize different pieces of content across our different platforms,” she said.
For example, sometimes the team takes videos and cuts them into shorter clips for Facebook, then uses the same content as a photo on Instagram or has the patient or patient family write a blog post.
“It's a great way for people to learn more about our patients while not being bogged down with a six-minute video,” she said.
In order to streamline story collection, Lexie and Maggie made a point to train the hospital staff on the program.
Their team presented to each different clinical department, outlining the “Share Your Story” initiative and how they could help. The nurses and doctors are the main touchpoints patients have at the hospital, so getting them on board was essential to obtaining as many patient stories as possible.
“If they know of a patient that might be good, they can direct them right to the form,” Maggie said. “And that creates more organization and doesn't necessarily put the family on the spot.”
The goals of the “Share Your Story” program have evolved.
According to Lexie, before the program was launched, the team had been spending a lot of time creating content. “Now that everyone can be a creator through their phones, we thought this would be a great chance for us to capitalize on that,” she said.
Maggie explained that when the program was launched, they had just been looking for a convenient and time-efficient way to communicate and organize patient stories internally.
Because each patient story can be used in a variety of ways, Maggie said they also use “Share Your Story” content for other campaigns too. “It's a resource for our other efforts such as patient education or expert highlights,” she said. “A lot of these patients have such great things to say about their doctors that we can build off of.”
Maggie also explained that over time, the team and the program have become more organized.
“We meet quarterly to go over the submissions we get,” she said. The team working on “Share Your Story” discusses how the content can be used and which forms each story can take. Then, a designated person follows each patient and their family through the process.
“They make the initial call when we get submissions,” Maggie said. “We'll interview the patient and their family to just get a feel for who they are and how long they've been with us, to help us gauge how involved we want to get with the story.”
In its first year, the program has already seen internal and external success.
“I think internally it's been well received because it also relieves the tension of a nurse having to call our department and track someone down to talk to a family who wants to be featured or express their gratitude,” Lexie explained. “Now, we give the nurses cards to just hand to them.”
Due to the support of their clinical staff, the team has accumulated 41 “Share Your Story” submissions just through the landing page alone — not including organic submissions via Facebook and Instagram.
Lexie credited part of that success to the nature of the program. “Many of our patients feel like this is a way of giving back to the hospital because they know that by sharing their story, other families could actually benefit from learning what they went through,” Lexie said.
“And we can see that people are enjoying the posts on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter,” Maggie said. The team is currently just tracking engagement through their platforms. But, as Maggie explained, they are in the midst of better understanding their analytics and looking for a benchmark.
To Lexie and Maggie, the biggest challenges have been related to content strategy.
Lexie explained finding ways to use the “Share Your Story” program to promote sports medicine at their new Frisco campus has been their biggest challenge. According to Lexie, that type of content doesn't typically perform as well as content related to the hospital's other service lines.
Lexie said it's also important they don't get overwhelmed by the entries. “We see all these different submissions, and we just want to turn everything into a blog post or video, but we really have to hone in on the strategy of not repeating the same style for each entry,” she explained.
For hospitals considering launching a user-generated content initiative, Lexie and Maggie advised using a similar collaborative spreadsheet tool.
“Depending on what team members are included, just be very clear on what content you want to capture from the beginning,” Maggie said. “So when it gets into the Smartsheet, it's easy to understand and you've collected what you need to make a decision on how to utilize the content.”
Lexie also suggested implementing a vetting process for every submission to avoid discrepancies in the patient stories. “Once we've gotten a submission, we take that back to the clinic staff and try to get a little more information,” she explained. “We double check whether they feel like this is a good fit for us brand-wise and that everything checks out logistics-wise.”