In 2009 I began my innovative work at GUMC. I was a new staff member at the Dahlgren Memorial Library and I had been hired to initiate a bedside information service for the health care professionals at the Georgetown University Hospital. My goal was to bring the latest evidence-based information into the treatment and care decision-making process, helping doctors and nurses stay abreast of recent treatments and practices in patient care.
With my iPhone (and later iPad) in hand I introduced myself to the clinicians in the hospital, demonstrated my research expertise and invited them to call me when they had questions. I created flyers and brochures which I distributed in the hospital, and I handed out my business cards to all the hospital staff I could find.
Before long I was invited by Dr. Murphy and other attending physicians to join them on rounds, and I was happy to be working with the nursing staff, but 2 years after I started I was still short of my goal. Although I was busy, I wasn’t overwhelmed with requests. Something was missing.
In 2011 an opportunity arose to engage the services of a marketing consultant who specialized in promoting and communicating the services of information professionals like myself. Funded by a small award from the National Library of Medicine, the Library hired Chris Olson of Chris Olson & Associates to work with me on generating visibility to expand my services. It proved to be a turning point.
Chris started by outlining a promotion campaign that I could implement with minimal help. She narrowed my target markets and then worked with me to fine-tune my messages, in step with GUMC goals and objectives. Our phone consultations were great learning experiences for me. First, I would review my latest promotion activities and results. Then Chris provided feedback, sharpening my promotion tactics and adjusting my messages. Together we identified visibility opportunities, next steps and envisioned results.
It was during one of these consultation calls that the idea of making a video surfaced. We wanted to feature several of my clients providing informal commentary, communicating the value I brought to MedStar GUH medical teams. I decided to utilize the services of TriVision Studios, asking them to make a short video of me rounding with clinical teams in MGUH
On the day of the video shoot I decided to wear a bright red shirt to stand out from the clinicians in their white coats. Three weeks later when the video was in draft mode, I shared it with Chris. She immediately picked up on the red shirt as a visual branding element and outlined the role it could play in my visibility and promotion efforts. She suggested that I wear red shirts on a regular basis and reuse select photos of me in my red shirt from the video on my promotion materials. The red shirt would provide continuity and consistency in my visual communications, forming a brand identity which would give everyone a visual “hook” for remembering me and the informationist services I provide along with the value I bring to the clinical teams.
The video proved to be a great marketing tool. I contacted the hospital’s media director, and soon thereafter she posted the video on the MGUH YouTube channel. I also posted the video on the DML website.
Can a red shirt make a difference? Absolutely! Is a marketing consultant with a proven track record a good investment? Yes, and the proof is in the results. Today, when I walk down the halls in the hospital I am instantly recognized and asked to join rounds. Requests for my rounding and research services have increased more than 80% in the past two years.
On October 13th I’ll be relating my marketing project experience at the Mid-Atlantic Medical Library Association Annual Meeting in a presentation entitled “Promoting the Value and Skill of an Academic Medical Center’s Hospital Librarian to the Staff of a Major Hospital.” The meeting brings together professionals throughout the East coast for 2 days of sharing and learning best practices in medical information services.
The red shirt? Well, you can see it at the top of this blog page and of course, look for me wearing one in the hospital. Please introduce yourself! Feel free to ask me questions, invite me to accompany your team on rounds and ask me for help in using medical databases and apps.