Guest Blogger: John Marzano, VP External Affairs, Orlando Health

Marketers Must Lead Health Systems in Embracing New Media

Orlando Health took the better part of a year in developing a strategy to participate in the social/digital environment. In November 2009, with full support of organization leadership we launched our plan with both a Facebook ( and You Tube page ( To date, we have acquired more than 3,800 fans to our page and have over 4,000 views on You Tube for a special heart month video called ‘move it’ as well as other videos featuring tours of our facilities and physician expertise.

Overall, we looked at some best practices (Mayo Clinic, University of Maryland Medical System) and took a measured approach while setting very realistic parameters, guidelines for use, and expectations as part of a new communications platform that addressed the mix of traditional and digital forms of communication to engage our target audiences. In addition, we seamlessly moved two FTEs into roles that support this strategy and help us stay current with the technology.

First steps were to develop a credible presence for the organization through use of video, educational opportunities for fans to participate in, including RSVPs to health events, etc. Also, we developed a data bank of physician expert videos on a variety of clinical services that strategically drive our business. Third, we made it fun by incorporating campus activities and other special events to generate buzz, feedback, and affinity for our programs and services. Finally, more recently, we uploaded media stories and new advertising campaigns to give our fans another opportunity to hear our brand message and story.

I think an intense focus on ROI at this stage is premature. Right now it’s about engaging target audiences with another tactic/tool to communicate about the organization, build brand awareness, and build a fan base – in this case, to those that already want to hear from you. Once a good fan base is onboard, then utilize cross marketing opportunities and new modalities available from the social sites to begin to steer appropriate call-to-action, response and potential business.

Currently, site analytics available offer some measurement of success and have told us that approximately 80% of our fan base are women 25-44, which by the way fits nicely into Orlando Health’s core target audience of women 25-64. It also paves the way to engage a younger demographic for potential new business in the future. Video views add to the analytics and show us how many are watching our physicians tell the clinical story of the organization.

Common sense tells us that with anything in the digital age, we can expect the technology to evolve and change many times over. As marketers and communicators, we’re expected to take the lead, adapt to our markets and move to where the potential business is moving. ROI measurements will come soon enough. Let’s establish credibility with a sound strategy first.

John Marzano is the vice president for external affairs at Orlando Health, a health system in central Florida that includes Orlando Regional Medical Center, the Winnie Palmer Hospital for Women & Babies, the Arnold Palmer Hospital for Children, and MD Anderson Cancer Center Orlando and other hospitals and patient care services.He can be reached at

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