Twitter has become a very popular interactive message board for consumer businesses. Most businesses are using their site to keep their clients updated on moment-to-moment progress, coupons and specials, and trends within their establishment. Twitter is useful in providing feedback from their customers or patrons, which can in turn be used to better their company or enhance their image. Companies like H&R Block offer a question and answer format for people that have ongoing tax questions. Starbucks in Seattle uses Twitter to promote their specials and interact with their customers on a personal level. Other companies like Dell, Home Depot, Best Buy, and Southwest Airlines have also quickly acclimated their business by tweeting with their customers. One organization, which advertises their Twitter page on several billboards throughout the St. Charles, Missouri area, is using Twitter in a whole new way.
Progress West Health Care Center is managing their Emergency Room waiting area by using their Twitter pages to update potential hospital goers of wait times in the ER. The billboard says, “Updates on ER wait times” and posts their Twitter address and that is the entire ad. When you access their Twitter page, you can see they update their Twitter page by tweeting, almost hourly, to let the general population know how long their wait time will be if they go to the ER. The tweets not only help patients determine when they should go to the ER, it gives them a heads up on how proficient the hospital is by watching the wait times. Their typical wait time is currently under 15 minutes according to the majority of their tweets. Keeping the wait times down low is one of Progress West’s greatest ambitions. With “Faster Response. That’s Progress” as their tagline, posting wait times on their twitter page holds them and their staff accountable to the public. If wait times are relatively high for long periods of time it will disappoint the public and diminish the value of their commitment to fast service. However, lower wait times will do exactly the opposite and support their claims of faster service.
While Progress West originally designed their twitter page as a way to update the general population on their ER wait times, they are also using it as a forum to post little tidbits of medical advice or warnings that will keep you out of the Emergency Room. For example, with the cold weather hitting us pretty hard and snow in the recent forecast, they tweeted, “Winter Safety Tip: If the power goes out, monitor the temperatures of your home. Infants and adults over 65 are susceptible to cold.”
The photo I took of their billboard (upper left) shows a small bird hovering just above the upper left hand corner of the structure, which I found amusing. Maybe this little tweeter reader wants to keep up to date with what is going on in his community too. Maybe he’s just looking for a place to build his nest. How awesome would that be for Progress West ER if the little guy took up residence on their Twitter advertising billboard?