One of life's more altruistic points is that actions really do speak louder than words. Talk is cheap. And, as I wrote recently, traditional marketing talk is especially cheap.
Savvy hospitals are already coming around to the idea that its about forming a relationship with their constituents. At the core of that relationship is a real give and take, earnest interaction. Last week the Henry Ford Health System made a splash by "live tweeting" a real surgery. A physician sat in front of a computer giving the play by play while a skilled team (led by a different physician) manipulated a Di Vinci robot inside of a patient's abdomen.
Being witness to a surgical event is nothing new. Cable TV stations picked up on what teaching hospitals have done since the inception of medicine. What is ground breaking about the live tweeting model is how it spread, maintaining its interactivity the whole time. Followers of the HFHS account saw the initial tweets. Many re-tweeted news of the event to their own followers. Soon there was an entire flash mob community following the removal of a tumor on the kidney of a patient in Michigan. Throughout the procedure that physician at the twitter console was fielding questions as they came pouring in (how did I know it was a Di Vinci robot? I asked).
CNN also took notice of the event. The real credit goes to the web team at HFHS. They engaged their leadership, sold them on the idea and pioneered what will undoubtedly become a trend.
That said, I'm proud to make my own contribution to the CNN report...Look for yours truly around 0:45 seconds - hey, its a cameo role...