Skip to content
November 9, 2012 / achanguris

A Social Media Check Up

Earlier this week I visited my primary care physician for a routine check up. We chatted about my health stats, talked about stress management, all that good stuff, and then it was time for the once-over with the stethoscope, look-in-your-ears part.

Stay with me, I promise I won’t over-share.

During the chit-chat as he listened to my lungs, I divulged that I’m responsible for the social media presence for my hospital. We were done talking about my personal health (and that was fine, we had already covered what needed to be covered), and he switched gears to ask me about social media in the world of healthcare.

What do you post on Facebook? What do you tweet?

The grand question: what do I say? My mind immediately went back to the Mayo Clinic Healthcare Social Media Summit (held in Rochester, Minnesota last month) and its closing session from Dr. Natasha Burgert. Known as @DoctorNatasha on Twitter, this pediatrician is a one-woman social media powerhouse. She sees tools like Twitter, blogs and even video as ways to interact with her patients (and their parents) outside of their office visits. With Doctor Natasha in mind, I rattled a couple of pieces of her advice:

  • Practice the “rule of three”: if she hears the same question from patients or parents three times in a week or so, Doctor Natasha writes a blog post answering the question. That way the next time she hears it, she has the answer and a blog post to point to.
  • Engage with your captive audience: patients typically end up sitting in the exam room waiting for the doctor, so why not take advantage of that time and educate them? Doctor Natasha records short video clips, posts them online, and then posts QR codes on the back of her exam room doors. A quick scan of the code with a smart phone loads the video, and voila — she’s engaging with patients even before she enters the room.
  • Don’t leave patients who aren’t using social media out in the cold: if your patient isn’t going to look at your online article (she refers to them as articles because her patients seem put off by the world “blog”), meet them where they are. Email it to them, print a copy, whatever works best for them.

What’s the point? What will I get out of it?

Like most things in life, I think you get out what you put in. I told my doctor if he takes the time to follow respected sources of health care information (American Cancer Society, American Academy of Pediatrics, etc.), he’d get a good idea for what works when using each tool. I advised he should listen first, learn the tool and community, and then leap in.

Once you’re in, you can set yourself up as a subject matter expert, a trusted source of information (specifically health information). You gain at least some brand recognition. Most importantly, you begin to build relationships with patients (or prospective patients) beyond the walls of your office. Jane Smith, wife and mother of three, may not need you today, but if she’s engaging with you on Facebook — even infrequently — and you nurture that relationship well, she’ll come to you when she does need you.

What do you do if someone says something bad about you?

I think my eyes lit up when he asked this one. I’ve spoken at two conferences and a webinar on precisely this topic. He’s lucky I didn’t pull out my slides and go to town (yes, they’re on a flash drive in my purse).

The short answer is:

  • If they have a problem you can fix, fix it.
  • If you can’t fix it, find someone who can.
  • If no one can fix it, offer a blameless apology.
  • If they’re still upset, offer to take the conversation off-line.

Of course there’s a lot more to it than that… but he had patients to see. :)

November 4, 2012 / achanguris

Mayo Clinic Healthcare Social Media Summit – Stop Blocking Social Media

Day two of the Mayo Clinic Healthcare Social Media Summit began with a discussion of the many, many reasons healthcare organizations shouldn’t be blocking social media. It’s a stance long-championed by Shel Holtz (his StopBlocking website is an extensive resource on the subject). Still, blocking social media seems to be the rule in the healthcare setting.

I’m lucky, social media is part of my job, so I have access. That’s good, because the one thing I really missed from my life as a news reporter was the AP news feed. Twitter fills that void quite nicely.

Still, if I want to share a great YouTube video with a co-worker (an instructional one, not a cute cat video), I have to work around the blocking issue (typically by sending it to his or her cell phone). Also,  if you visit my hospital’s webpage from the hospital network you’ll find big, empty spaces where the YouTube videos should be. The only good news is that it’s not blocked for the public wifi – otherwise I think we’d have full-scale riots on our hands.

The panel suggested gathering the key players in a room — legal, communications, IT, HR and nursing (for starters) — and openly discussing the fears that surround open access to social media. As a proponent of unblocking access, be ready to listen with an open mind and educate without getting defensive or belittling those who express what you might see as unfounded fears.

The panel also recommended looking for case studies to support your argument — they’re more effective than best practices because they’re more specific and concrete. Best practices have their place, but case studies are the better tool in making your case.

Here’s a question to bring up to the group: how would unblocking social media support our strategic goals and/or culture? Be ready to provide compelling answers specific to your organization, but one culture-related point I noted is that opening access is a great way to show trust in your employees. Of course, those who abuse the privilege will suffer the consequences, but it should be a management issue — not a blanket revocation of access.

One more very important nugget: remember that if you’re going to unblock social media, you’re going to need to educate people on how to (and how not to) use it. Get your policies in place and craft a plan to review the rules before the restrictions are lifted, otherwise you’ll make a mess and the nay-sayers could send you back to blocksville.

October 26, 2012 / achanguris

ConvergeSouth 2012

Here I am, speaking at ConvergeSouth 2012!

Wait.. you weren’t able to travel to Greensboro, South Carolina to hear me speak? No problem!

I’ll be sharing some of the lessons I’ve learned as a social media professional in the healthcare field, and how I’ve learned to prepare for and deal with uncomfortable situations that can arise in social media in a webinar through the Mayo Clinic Center for Social Media and Ragan Communications.

So there you go. I’m coming (virtually) to you on November 8th!

October 26, 2012 / achanguris

Mayo Clinic Healthcare Social Media Summit – Day One Brain Dump

Originally composed the evening of October 17, 2012.

For the sake of my sanity, I’ve started sifting through my notes from day one of the 4th Annual Healthcare Social Media Summit. Here’s a brief run-down of the highlights.

I’ve decided there are two large bundles of information to consider (and digest): things I already knew I wanted to do (“in my spare time”) and will make a concerted effort to accomplish and brand-spanking new ideas.

In the first category, I have notes like:

  • Add “Pin it” option to the hospital blog
    (Even if I’m still not sure Pinterest users will really want to see items related to healthcare mixed in with recipes and crafts, it isn’t a bad option to offer.)
  • “Claim” our place on the Mayo Clinic Center for Social Media Hospital List
    (I want to add a pretty picture and make sure all of our links are up to date. This is a great resource for tracking down hospital social media accounts.)
  • Establish Facebook groups for patients in similar situations
    (Some will be open, others closed, depending on the subject matter. People who are going through a health issue want to know they’re not alone and groups like these meet them where they already are – Facebook.)
    One sage word of caution: hosting groups on Facebook means you have to play by their ever-changing rules. If the groups grow or at least catch on, it may be worth considering moving the hosting to our own website.
  • Add a notification to Foursquare so people who check in are reminded to get a flu shot.

In the second, I’ve jotted these notes:

  • Look at WELLAHO, a closed group where – with a patient’s permission – physicians can upload patient chart information and the patient can track treatments, when they’ve taken medication, etc. The physician has access to this data and patients can invite loved ones to view the information as well.
  • Look at FeverBee for tips on community management.
  • Check out how Mayo Clinic is accepting and posting patient stories right through their Facebook page (complete with a HIPAA waiver).
  • Find out if any images from your website have been pinned on Pinterest by using this link:

Not a bad to-do list. Now it’s time to get to work.

One of the most fascinating sessions of the day was a panel discussion on crisis management and the inclusion of social media. At work, we have plenty of plans for a wide range of crises. I have the game plan down pat; I know where to report and my primary responsibilities. I’m also ready to tweet my little fingers off in an emergency situation (I’ve done it before, letting people know about flooded roads in the area or confirming everyone was okay and the hospital was structurally sound after the East Coast earthquake of 2011). If I need to reach key leaders in the hospital (legal, administration, security, etc.) I have a contact card in my wallet with at least two or three ways to contact each one.

Indiana University Health Web and Social Media Analyst Joanna Woerner made an excellent point while discussing her hospital’s response in the wake of a deadly stage collapse at the state fair. A staff psychologist volunteered his time to reach out to members of the community wrestling with survivor’s guilt or other varieties of mental trauma after the incident. Many of those community members were posting to the hospital’s social media sites about their experiences, and this physician coached members of the social media team on when they should engage and when they should hand the comment off to a crisis counselor.

But what if it isn’t a natural disaster?

Brycie Jones, Social Media Manager for Oregon Health and Science University (OHSU), shared a story about a male pediatric nurse who was arrested on suspicion of trafficking in child pornography. The nurse was placed on unpaid leave immediately, and then the hospital got a team together to start working through the communication process.

One major challenge: Homeland Security needed to be the first to release news of the arrest. The hospital didn’t want employees finding out through the media, so they sent an email to all employees to fill them in – before the Homeland Security release went out. Of course, it took one employee forwarding that email to the media and it was public. Jones’ team had to regroup and get Homeland Security’s permission to discuss the matter through social media and their own press release ahead of the agreed-upon schedule – I can only imagine how tense that phone call was.

Jones said the hospital fared well through a challenging time in part because they focused on getting accurate information out as quickly as possible. They set up a web page for frequently asked questions, updating it as questions came in and referring the public and the media there for definitive answers. After the fact, Jones was able to go back and track the internet traffic and noted that social media was the biggest driver to the site.

My take away from this discussion? We practice fire drills, helicopter landings and mass inoculations; it’s probably a good idea to practice gathering the right people to respond quickly to a crisis (of any variety) and using social media as the first communication channel.

March 3, 2012 / achanguris


Amanda Changuris presents "Sticky Situations" at the 2012 Frederick New Media and Technology Conference.

August 10, 2011 / achanguris


I’ve come to the conclusion that I’m a horrible blogger — at least on the personal side of things.

To be fair, I’m responsible for a pretty decent blog at work. That takes a good bit of writing time and management time, and I’ve found I don’t really have that much to say here.

Don’t get me wrong; I have A LOT to say. I’m just saying it on Twitter or Facebook rather than here.

It’s not you, WordPress blog, it’s me. I’ve always been a proponent of brevity; you can ask my Advanced Placement Literature and Composition teacher from high school. That love of expressing myself in few words helped me through a good TV/radio news career and now helps me immensely in the social media realm.

In short — world, if you’re looking for me, I’m all over the internet. I’m just more likely to be found where there are character limits!

August 11, 2010 / achanguris

Kittens on a Plane

Air travel is full of inconveniences. Measure your liquids. Take off your shoes, belt, jewelry and dignity. Weave through this cattle chute, even though we haven’t opened the desk yet, so you’ll be waiting in queue until our employees show up.

Delays happen. On our trip out to Greece we sat on the runway for 90 minutes because of a thunderstorm that left us 22nd in line for takeoff. Leaving Batsi, we stood in the afternoon heat with our packs on, waiting for a bus that (as far as we know) never came. It happens, it’s annoying, and you just suck it up and try to enjoy your trip in spite of the hassles.

As far as delays go, this was the most adorable reason – ever.

I briefly met the sweet, middle-aged woman near the gate in Athens. She was traveling with three kittens in tow, all rescued strays from the island of Crete. They even had little kitty passports to document their journey to the United States.

When we boarded and took our seats, I was happy to see she was just one row in front of us with her pet carrier full of kittens safely under the seat in front of her. As we prepared for an on-time departure, there was a stir in her row and we learned one of the kittens had managed to sneak out of the carrier. Everyone on the plane looked around for the little Houdini-cat, but we couldn’t find him.

Then a page overhead: “This is the captain speaking, we’re ready to push back from the gate, but one of our passengers is traveling with a pet cat and it got out of the carrier. We’ve located the cat here in the cockpit and we’re doing our best to remedy the situation so we can get underway.”

About ten minutes later a flight attendant offered an update, “The cat is still in the cockpit, we have our maintenance crew trying to get him out. We’re sorry for the delay and appreciate your patience.”

Now, of all of the reasons to be late getting off the ground, I think this is my favorite. The little kitten broke out of his carrier, slipped entirely unnoticed past a full 40 rows of passengers and up into the cockpit, and then found a nice, cozy spot to hide.

Eventually the cat was caught – or “in the bag” in the words of Captain Cliche – and we were on our way.

I’ll be delayed an hour for a kitten any day… and love it.

Update: It’s now 9:30pm EST (that’s 4:30am in Greece for those of you playing along at home) and we’re on our way to Reagan National Airport in Washington, DC. The plan was to fly into Baltimore Washington International, but thanks to that kitten we missed our planned connection. Honestly, I still don’t mind.

It does help that my Dad was planning to pick us up from the airport. It’s just a different airport now! Love you, Daddy!

August 3, 2010 / achanguris

Greece 2010 – On Andros 2

Inadvertant words of wisdom from my dear sister-in-law Andrea on this, our last full day of our stay on Andros Island, Greece.

[Let’s go get coffee] after snack, before nap.

Ahh, reminds me of kindergarten… in a decidedly wonderful way.

Any day you can make plans around snack- and nap-times is a great (not to mention well-prioritized) day.

We’ve lived this past week moment-to-moment. Reveling in the fact that we’re free to check the time, but it doesn’t matter what time it actually happens to be. I’ve finished one book and flown halfway through another. We’ve alternated basking in the intense Greek sunshine and cooling off in the clear pristine waters off Batsi. We’ve enjoyed light lunches of tomato and cucumber salads, cheese and bread. Naptime.

Tomorrow evening we’ll leave Andros for a brief stop on Mykonos before catching the early ferry to Ios. I hope we can take this utterly-relaxed, care-free feeling along for the journey.

It’s such an indulgent feeling, knowing we’ll still be here in Greece for another week. As Harry predicted, I may never take a single-week vacation again!

July 30, 2010 / achanguris

Greece 2010 – On Andros

Ahh, Greece.

My husband and I are spending a week on Andros Island, about an hour’s highspeed ferry ride from Athens. It’s the island where his great-grandmother grew up before coming to the United States in 1912.

The island is close to Athens, but off the main ferry routes. It’s far less touristy than nearby Mykonos. We love the authentic look at Greek island life, particularly from our apartment just steps from the “Exemplary Beach at Batsi” (I didn’t make that up, it’s what the sign on the beach across the street says).

We arrived completely exhausted after the 24-hour trip from Frederick, Maryland and used the last of our energy getting settled in and grabbing dinner at the first taverna in the row along the water’s edge.

We’re still working on getting our clocks turned around, we’ve been sleeping in until at least 10am for the past two days. That’s very late for us, but then again – we don’t have a schedule to keep!

So far our routine includes coffee and fruit on the balcony, several hours of sun and time in the cool, calm, clear water, showers, a light lunch, nap time, walks to explore Batsi, dinner and bedtime. It’s delightfully devoid of anything that “needs to be done”.

It’s been a lovely, restful vacation, just what we needed.

May 30, 2010 / achanguris


You know what I love most about this whole Social Media thing? You guessed it (perhaps by the title of this blog entry) — value.

I love knowing that I can contribute all of the lessons I’ve learned (read: trial and error) and learn so much from the many, many people who have been working in the social sphere for so much longer. I’m continually surprised when my Social Media efforts on the work side of things are cited as “good” or even “great” — the Facebook site I maintain for Frederick Memorial Healthcare System has even been cited at a local conference I attended and, more recently, in a webinar from Pride Philanthropy.

Just this week, one of my blog entries for FMH — which encourages the use of sunscreen and other methods to reduce the risk of skin cancer — caught the attention of the Director of the National Council on Skin Cancer Prevention.  He called my work number and left me a very kind message thanking me for getting the message out there.  In case you missed it, Friday May 28th was “Don’t Fry Day” — get it?  That’s my goal for this weekend — no sunburn.

The best part about all of this is that I’m not a “big deal” — I’m figuring all of this stuff out as I go (just like everyone else).  In a sea of gurus, experts and sherpas I’m more than happy to ride the wave and learn from everyone around me.  I love that parts of the social media universe work that way.  I love the people I’ve met through these efforts (that link will get you to some of them, but certainly not all).  I love being in the middle of something that’s growing and changing at a rate that encourages me to learn something new just about every day.

For a post with a title like “Value”, this may not provide a great deal to you — but if you’re willing to put the time in to look, I know you can find the value in Social Media.