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Happy Birthday, Blog! It’s a Year this Week …

By Dr. David C. Pate, News and Community
December 3, 2012

Wow! I never realized what a difference a blog would make.

I’d wanted to be able to communicate more effectively with physicians, employees, and stakeholders, and to share our vision, strategy, initiatives, and progress more broadly. Since no one tells our story better than we do, I wanted to equip all of our employees to understand current health care issues and to be able to talk about our progress and our positions with friends, family members, and neighbors. 

Each entry has been an opportunity to share a bit of myself with you, to help me express my thoughts about how we need to transform health care and what we are doing to accomplish this, to express my appreciation for what all our physicians and employees do every day, and to thank the extended St. Luke’s family, friends, and communities for their support.

In this space, and in plain English, I’ve also examined the health care reform law, health insurance exchanges, Medicaid expansion, and other issues being hotly debated both nationally and in our own state, and encouraged readers to come to their own conclusions; I provide my own view, for what it’s worth. And based on all the tweets, Facebook postings, and other distribution of these blog entries, it’s met my goals.

This week, I wanted to share all the ways the blog has made an impact.

First, some statistics:

  • We posted 91 blog pieces over this first year, an average of almost two pieces a week. Whew! I’m tired!
  • There have been 52,961 visits to the blog, and 21,865 unique visitors.
  • The blog continues to grow in readership. Most recently, 41.3 percent were new visitors, and 58.7 percent were returning guests.
  • The average visitor stays with the blog for more than 2.5 minutes; those who know much more than I do about social media say that’s actually a long time.
  • We received 612 comments, or about 6.8 comments per post. About half are from readers, and about half are my replies.
  • Our six highest-readership days have been:
         6. Nov. 13: My Open Letter to the Community following the lawsuit filed by Saint Alphonsus and the Treasure Valley Hospital.

         5. Oct. 30: My tribute to Cynthia "Cy" Burr, a loved friend and St. Luke’s patient.

         4. Sept. 5: The announcement of our SelectHealth innovative collaboration.

         3. July 27: Between postings about having been selected as a Top 50 Health System and polling question results.

         2. July 19: Introduction of Cy and our videotaped interview.

         And the number 1 highest-readership blog entry was … June 28, having to do with the Supreme Court decision on the Affordable Care Act.

The blog has provided me the opportunity to express my pride in St. Luke’s accomplishments, such as our HealthGrades results, our honor in being named one of the nation’s Top 50 Health System, the fantastic work done to become an accredited Primary Stroke Center, and the progress being made towards accountable care in our Children’s Hospital neonatology intensive care units, among other efforts. 

Through the blog, I have connected with leaders nationwide in health care and innovation, information technology executives, physicians, health care policy leaders, members of the media, a national health care accreditation expert, and Dave deBronkart, perhaps better known as “e-Patient Dave,” a consumer of health care who has helped advance patient-centeredness more than anyone I know. Dave reads regularly and is weighing in with his opinion.

It’s also served St. Luke’s as a recruitment tool. Physicians have told us that they have become interested in St. Luke’s because of our mission and vision and the exciting progress they have read about on the blog.     

Sometimes, my posts have been sad, such as when I let readers know of the passing of long-time St. Luke’s patient and supporter Cy Burr. They have reflected my disappointments, when, for example, Saint Alphonsus sued to stop our acquisition of the Saltzer Medical Group. 

We are living in a time when the changes in health care have never been more dramatic. The issues are complex, emotional at times, and tough to navigate. At times, the blog pieces I have written have concerned very difficult, complex issues, such as the legal issues involved in the court challenge to the Affordable Care Act, or my answer to Ann’s question asking whether health care is a right or a privilege. 

For those of you who haven’t taken the social media plunge, starting a blog is one thing, but maintaining one is time-consuming work. I want to thank Roya Camp, my blog editor and manager of all things blog. She helped me decide on its design and format. She badgered me to get photographed recently so she could swap out photos (That's my new look, over there to the right :).). She rides me mercilessly to ensure that I meet my deadlines. She has chased me down out of town to make sure I write about breaking news so that we can keep everyone informed.  She keeps me from abuses of the English language. In reality, the blog has always been a partnership between the two of us; she is the silent partner. I owe much of the success to her. Thanks, Roya!   

As we celebrate this one-year anniversary, I mostly want to thank our readers. Your interest, great questions and comments, support, and encouragement motivate me to continue the conversation about our strategy, issues, and progress. It is your engagement, support in forwarding our posts on, and insightful suggestions, observations, and comments that fuel my thinking and my passion for this effort. 

Thank you all for being part of my blog. You are as responsible for its success as I am. But no cake! Our mission is to improve the health of people in our region, and I don’t want my blog celebration to be justification for extra pounds! :)

About The Author

David C. Pate, M.D., J.D., is president and CEO of St. Luke's Health System, based in Boise, Idaho. Dr. Pate joined the System in 2009. He received his medical degree from Baylor College of Medicine in Houston and his law degree from the University of Houston Law Center.