Northeast Times

Healthy living goes high-tech

Maria Cer­ceo Slade, seni­or dir­ect­or of mar­ket­ing and com­mu­nic­a­tions for Aria Health Sys­tems, has in­creased Aria’s pres­ence on so­cial-me­dia plat­forms, in­clud­ing Face­book, Twit­ter, Linked­In, You­Tube and Foursquare. JENNY SWI­GODA / TIMES PHOTO

Aria Health’s mar­ket­ing team has re­vamped its Web site, in­tro­duced mo­bile ver­sions and joined so­cial me­dia net­works.

Hos­pit­als of­ten find them­selves in a Catch-22 when try­ing to pro­mote their in­sti­tu­tions to the pub­lic.

That is, it’s kind of dif­fi­cult to de­liv­er an up­beat mes­sage when you’re talk­ing about can­cer, strokes and heart dis­ease.

“It be­comes al­most like noise at a cer­tain point, be­cause if you’re well, you really don’t want to think about (be­ing ill),” said Maria Cer­ceo Slade, seni­or dir­ect­or of mar­ket­ing and com­mu­nic­a­tions for North­east-based Aria Health.

Slade and her col­leagues at Aria think they’ve found a cure for the health-care mar­ket­ing di­lemma.

In re­cent months, they’ve re­vamped and an­im­ated their Web site and in­tro­duced new “mo­bile” ver­sions for users of smart phones like Black­berry, iPhone and An­droid. They’ve in­creased Aria’s pres­ence on so­cial-me­dia plat­forms in­clud­ing Face­book, Twit­ter, Linked­In, You­Tube and Foursquare. And they’ve cre­ated a new in­ter­act­ive on­line “com­munity” that in its first few weeks has already at­trac­ted about 600 re­gistered mem­bers.

Most im­port­ant to the cam­paign, ac­cord­ing to Slade, is its pre­vail­ing mes­sage: pro­mot­ing Aria as a des­tin­a­tion for pre­vent­ive health care and well­ness, in ad­di­tion to its ar­ray of acute-care ser­vices.

“This al­lows us an op­por­tun­ity to com­mu­nic­ate with those who are well,” Slade said “It’s about our ser­vices and pro­grams, but it’s also a com­munity des­tin­a­tion for the dis­cus­sion of top­ics, and if (users) are in need of (med­ic­al) ser­vices in the fu­ture, we’re cre­at­ing a bond with them.”

While flashy Web sites, on­line net­work­ing and so­cial me­dia are old hat by now, gen­er­ally speak­ing, Aria is ac­tu­ally one of the first med­ic­al in­sti­tu­tions in the re­gion to em­ploy such a com­pre­hens­ive pack­age of tech plat­forms.

It claims to be the first “health sys­tem” in North­east Phil­adelphia and Bucks County to of­fer a mo­bile Web site “for our com­munity mem­bers on the go,” said Kath­leen Kinslow, pres­id­ent and CEO of Aria Health.

Aria launched the mo­bile site on Sept. 6.

The health sys­tem op­er­ates three hos­pit­als: its Frank­ford and Tor­res­dale cam­puses in Phil­adelphia, along with its Bucks County cam­pus in Falls Town­ship, near Ox­ford Val­ley Mall and Ses­ame Place.

Slade, her staff and an out­side con­sult­ant began work­ing on the multi-me­dia pro­ject last year and re-launched the AriaHealth.org Web site in Septem­ber 2010. It’s de­signed for desktop and laptop com­puter users.

“The pri­or site was pretty much stat­ic,” Slade said. “This one has move­ment, im­ages and you’re able to see em­bed­ded video. (The home page) brings many of the (site’s) as­sets right to the user’s fin­ger­tips. With one click, you can find a doc­tor or a cam­pus loc­a­tion.

“When you look at (Web) site ar­chi­tec­ture, you look at lay­ers. Where it may have used to take four or five clicks (to get to a spe­cif­ic page), this takes one.”

Aria spread the word about its re­designed site through its vari­ous con­ven­tion­al mar­ket­ing tools, in­clud­ing news­pa­per, magazine and bill­board ad­vert­ising. The in­sti­tu­tion plans to con­tin­ue us­ing those tra­di­tion­al meth­ods, Slade said.

Traffic to AriaHealth.org has shown a steady in­cline since the re­launch. Aria of­fi­cials ex­pect that the new mo­bile site will at­tract even more users be­cause Web brows­ing in gen­er­al is trend­ing more to­ward smart phones and away from per­son­al com­puters.

Re­search­ers pro­ject that, by 2014, more people will be ac­cess­ing the Web through their phones than through laptops and desktops, Slade said.

Per­haps the most-user-friendly ele­ment in Aria’s new mar­ket­ing strategy is the Your­Ari­aHealth.org on­line com­munity. Though there’s a link to it on the main Web site, Your­Ari­aHealth is very much its own en­tity. It’s free to sign up. 

Mem­bers in­clude Aria em­ploy­ees, pa­tients and oth­er health-con­scious folks. The site fea­tures blogs, mem­ber chat rooms, an events cal­en­dar, user polls, health-re­lated news links and fun activ­it­ies.

Slade’s pet pro­ject is the “Ques­tion of the Day” sweepstakes, where users can win such prizes as an iPod touch, Amazon Kindle, di­git­al cam­era and gift cards for an­swer­ing daily ques­tions about health top­ics, along with North­east Philly and Bucks County trivia. Con­tests will run weekly through Dec. 23.

Users are en­cour­aged to “share” con­tent with their friends via Face­book, Twit­ter and e-mail to im­prove their chances of win­ning a prize. This helps Aria by draw­ing more traffic to the site and al­low­ing the health-care pro­vider to gauge pub­lic in­terest in its activ­it­ies.

“With these tools, you real­ize what kind of syn­ergy you have and you can breathe life in­to the tra­di­tion­al (pro­mo­tion­al) out­lets,” Slade said.

Look­ing ahead, Aria hopes to em­ploy more video on its sites, al­low­ing the pub­lic to view in­ter­views with Aria phys­i­cians, an­im­a­tions or sim­u­la­tions or med­ic­al pro­ced­ures and per­haps some real-life pro­ced­ures. Visu­al con­tent could help Aria pro­mote its min­im­ally in­vas­ive and ro­bot­ic-as­sisted sur­gery op­tions, or its on-site and off-site spe­cial events.

Also, Slade hopes to de­vel­op spe­cial­ized Web sites in the same mod­el as the main site for each of Aria’s three cam­puses, with more loc­al­ized in­form­a­tion. An­oth­er idea is to de­vel­op cus­tom smart phone ap­plic­a­tions.

“The suc­cess of it is really go­ing to hinge upon the broad ap­proach that we’ve taken,” Slade said. ••

For in­form­a­tion about Aria Health, vis­it www.AriaHealth.org. To join the on­line com­munity, vis­it www.Your­Ari­aHealth.org

Re­port­er Wil­li­am Kenny can be reached at 215-354-3031 or wkenny@bsmphilly.com

You can reach at wkenny@bsmphilly.com.

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