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An Inspirational Hospital CEO on Twitter

Stop reading this article right now and follow Dr. Tony Slonim, CEO of Renown Health (Reno, NV), on Twitter.

Got it? Good.

Dr. Slonim was empowered to start his Twitter account by Renown’s Chief Marketing Officer, Suzanne Hendery. With close to 2,000 followers, he uses Twitter to not only broadcast the healthcare topics that matter to him, but to form a one-to-one connection with patients. And one more thing: He doesn’t call them patients. He calls them people.

“Intellectually, we know that the individual is much more than a ‘patient,’” explains Slonim. “He or she is part of a family and community with interests that go far beyond their illness. That’s why I’d like to get rid of the ‘patient’ concept. When we focus on patients, we lose the ability to frame a person outside of their illness. We overlook factors that can have a huge impact on the quality of an individual’s life. To help people get well, we need to focus on their total health: not only physical health, but also the interaction between the mind, body, and spirit. That’s why at Renown Health, we help heal people, not patients.”

Slonim uses that focus on people to frame his social media activity. As a CEO, he offers the following tips for other healthcare leaders who may be thinking about joining Twitter:

  • Dedicate the time. Every Monday at 7:30 a.m., Slonim has a team meeting to discuss what he’ll be talking about on Twitter for the week. “My main goal is to help patients lead healthy lives, after they leave our hospital,” he says.
  • Know how much of yourself you want to share. Slonim describes himself as “somewhat transparent.” In his Twitter bio, he shares that he’s a cancer survivor, but don’t look to him to share the nitty gritty of his daily grind. “Nobody wants to hear about what goes on in staff meetings. That’s boring.”
  • Use your own voice. Slonim enjoys writing and brainstorming during the team’s weekly meetings. “You never know what’s going to come out of my mouth. But ultimately, I always watch what I say. I’m thoughtful. You never know who is going to read your message.”
  • Say something meaningful. Nevada is a gun-friendly state, but Slonim is not afraid to go after what breaks his heart: kids dying of gunshot wounds. “I’m a pediatric physician and we’re in a national crisis,” he says. “I’m fortunate enough to have a leadership position where I can share my views on this. And I haven’t gotten any negative feedback when I do.”

Blogging Amplifies Leadership’s Voice

Launching a Twitter feed in his own voice and spirit mattered to Slonim. He took the same energy toward his blog. Instead of having someone ghostwrite the blog on his behalf, Slonim participated in a two-hour long interview session conducted by his marketing team and agency. The interview session resulted in a stockpile of blogs, as well as 16 videos, all sounding exactly like Slonim.

“He’s refreshing because he connects and resonates with people,” says Hendery. “He sounds like himself. He’s not just some stock photo of a CEO.”

Jessica Levco is a contributing writer for Healthcare Strategy Alert and the Forum for Healthcare Strategists blog.

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