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Recently, Mercy Medical Center-Des Moines in collaboration with Air Methods, Bell Helicopter and the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) unveiled its newest Mercy One air ambulance equipped with state-of-the-art navigation equipment. This technology will enable pilots to fly in more inclement weather situations than ever before.

“We miss about 240 flights a year due to the fact that the weather minimums are such that we can’t fly,” said Dan Keough, director of emergency transport services at Mercy. “We feel that with this new technology being state-of-the-art and the first of its kind in Iowa, we will recapture at least 20 percent of those weather misses that we currently have now.”

After testing is complete, Mercy plans to use its hospital as the first location to deploy Mercy One but soon after will include landing sites at Clarke County Hospital in Osceola, Mercy Medical Center-Centerville, Monroe County Hospital in Albia as well as a non-hospital based helipad being built in Stuart.

Dan Keough and Dennis Cochran, Mercy One Program Manager, Mercy Medical Center-Des Moines sat down with IHA to discuss the new Mercy One helicopter and the impact it’s likely to have across the health care industry.

Click here to view all the photos taken at the Mercy One media annoucement event.

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It has only been a few weeks since the IHA Social Media and Health Care conference was held and already the internet is buzzing with some interesting discussion pertinent to the event’s topic. On Monday, Advertising Age published an article focusing on the role of social media in hospitals in light of the passing of federal health care reform.

While the article tries to point out that recent increases in hospital marketing dollars and social media tactics can be attributed to hospitals vying for market position in anticipation of reform changes, certain social media experts in the health care industry have raised a red flag.

Lee Aase, manager of syndication and social media at Mayo Clinic, recently spoke at the IHA Social Media and Health Care conference. Aase was prompted to post on his blog some thoughts on how his quotes were interpreted and what he thinks is the true relationship between health care social media and health reform. Aase defends Mayo Clinic’s social media efforts as not being in reaction to health reform, stating that the hospital’s efforts date back to 2005. He also states that health reform is likely a non-factor in the reason for why hospitals are beginning to embrace social media.

It can be expected that this debate on how social media will be used in the wake of health reform will be carried out for years to come. For now, Lee Aase and the Iowa Hospital Association both feel that it is premature to determine whether or not hospitals have been incorporating social media for the purpose of proactive marketing. It’s more likely that hospitals have been implementing social media in order to stay current on what has become a new era in marketing and communications.

A realistic scenario is to assume that the bright marketing individuals working in Iowa’s hospitals are more interested in testing these waters to see what sort of return on community engagement can be realized as opposed to jumping into a turf war, fighting for impression in a realm that’s still largely undefined.

What are your thoughts? Are your hospitals currently incorporating health reform into your marketing tactics? Discuss in the comments below or on Twitter by using hashtag: #ihahealthreform.

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A special thanks to all who attended IHA Legislative Day 2010.  Your attendance each year goes a long way in helping to improve health care in Iowa.

We’ve put together the following video as a thank you to everyone who helped contribute to making the day a great success!

YouTube link:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aZC-5IEyL4k

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Lee Aase

Lee Aase

IHA will be hosting its first Social Media and Health Care Conference on February 9, 2010 at Iowa Methodist Medical Center in Des Moines.  Certain to be one of the conference highlights (and there will be several) is a presentation from Lee Aase of Mayo Clinic.

For those of you who are not familiar with Lee, he is a pioneer of hospital social media.  When others were breaking social media ground with shovels, Lee fired up a front-end loader and has been plowing the way ever since.  While Lee is understanding about hospitals hesitating on social media, he has little patience for those who suffer from paralysis by over-analysis, as he discussed in this recent interview

“Don’t let strategy become an excuse for inaction. Often organizations wait to become involved in social media until they have thought through every imaginable scenario, and that’s fine, to a point. But too frequently they go way beyond due diligence to a social media form of hypochondria or paranoia.”

 Just as important, most social media tools come at virtually no cost:

 “If you spend any money to communicate with employees or customers, why wouldn’t you take advantage of free tools that help you do it better?”

 The IHA Social Media and Health Care Conference is going to be a full-day of excellent presentations from Lee Aase and others who will introduce you to social media, help you understand how it impacts health care and how your hospital can benefit, show you how to measure results and give you the opportunity to hear from hospitals that have stepped boldly into this new frontier. 

Register now while space is still available!

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Iowa is well represented among the Top 50 Hospital Blogs that was pulled together by Nurseblogger.  The 50 blogs includes categories for hospital blogs as well as blogs from children’s hospitals, specialty hospitals, hospital work-related, hospital associations, hospital CEOs, hospital patients and companies and organizations related to hospitals.

In Iowa, Knoxville Hospital and Clinics was listed among the best hospital blogs.  The blog penned by Todd Linden, CEO of Grinnell Regional Medical Center, is also listed, and so is IHA’s blog

As for Nurseblogger…well, we’re not exactly sure who or what this is, although it seems to have something to do with helping nurses earn their bachelor’s degrees.  But they do seem to know health care and good hospital-related blogging when they see it.

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