Akron Children’s Hospital
While writing this book, I did a Google search for “hospital weblog,” and the first one listed was
an Akron Children’s Hospital weblog. Started in 2006, the blog chronicled the hospital’s
preparations for Meghan, the sister of a young cerebral palsy patient, to head to Washington, DC,
to talk with members of Congress about the challenges imposed on her brother because of his
condition and the need for legislative support of pediatric hospitals with specialized care for all
The hospital created Meghan’s Blog to recognize Family Advocacy Day and one family’s trip to
Capitol Hill to lobby policymakers on the importance of funding for children’s health coverage,
especially for families affected by chronic disease. Akron Children’s decided to use a blog to
generate media coverage and raise awareness for the issues at a time when the need was great but
the hospital’s media budget was shrinking. One of its physicians had blogged, so the
organization had some experience with the technology.
The blog, hosted on the hospital’s own content management system, generated excitement and
support before the trip, and Meghan’s class and others in the community got involved and wrote
letters to their congressmen. The project received great feedback, including from congressmen
who had met Meghan and her family and received letters from her classmates and friends.
In 2009, Akron Children’s experimented with having a patient Tweet during his Family
Advocacy Day trip but learned that this doesn’t work well for everyone due to individuals’
varying comfort levels with technology.
Akron Children’s now uses their Social Media Clubhouse to group their communities together as
the hospital works to engage the community online. This site includes live Web chats, video
casts on YouTube, podcasts on iTunes, and the organization’s timely child health and safety
information. In the first seven months after launching its Facebook page, Akron Children’s has
attracted 2,000 fans. In addition, departments are requesting their own group or cause pages. The
hospital’s Twitter following also continues to grow steadily. Between May and August 2009, it
gained more than 200 followers. Akron Children’s posts photographs of events on Flicker and
receives comments from families who now feel more included in the community and thank the
The hospital is developing policies and making sure its brand stays intact, while exploring the
possibility of online support groups. It monitors followers and tracks their stats—how many
people watch the videos, who likes it, and who comments. For causes, it also monitors how much
money is being raised. To date, Akron Children’s has not received any negative comments.
However, it is prepared to respond when that day comes.