Inova Health gets Fit For Fifty

A few weeks ago Chris Boyer sent me a private message on Twitter, inviting me to check out his latest project for Inova Health System.

I’m glad I did! Fit For 50 is a program that looks simple, but actually has significant content and resources.  It also integrates social media into everything it offers. Read on for my interview with Chris.

Chris, tell us a bit about yourself.

Chris Boyer

Ed, thanks for giving me the opportunity to talk about this project.

I’m the Senior Manager of Digital Communications at Inova Health System, managing the social media and online marketing efforts of this six-hospital system, which serves the Northern Virginia and Washington, DC metro area. i’m an active member of the #HCSM community and is the original author of the blog Hospital Online Marketing. Before working at Inova, I consulted with nearly 100 hospital and health systems, developing a variety of innovative marketing and business development solutions.

What’s the 60 second description of FitFor50?

FitFor50 is a health and wellness partnership between Inova Health System and former Washington Redskins cornerback Darrell Green, designed to promote a fit and active lifestyle. Using a free interactive website , as well as Facebook, YouTube and Twitter communities, FitFor50 shares both inspirational and clinical daily video tips from Darrell and Inova doctors.  On the FitFor50 site, participants can create an online playbook to record and track their personal fitness goals and measure their progress. Over the course of 50 days (September 10 through October 30)

, FitFor50 fitness events, clinics and screenings will give the community a chance to meet Darrell in person. In addition, Darrell is writing a blog on the site, and there is a contest where winners can meet Darrell in person.

That’s a major initiative – How does it fit into the marketing / business goals for Inova?

As part of our nonprofit mission and our dedication to the communities we serve, a fitness / wellness campaign is a perfect fit with our overall brand. Inova Health System focuses on not only providing the best medical care, but proactively encouraging preventive care and healthy living. It’s perfect timing because more and more people are now open to learning about fitness and wellness tips, because they know how it affects their health and their daily lives.

From a business standpoint, the FitFor50 program gives us a platform to weave in education about our key service lines (cardiology, ortho, spine, pain management, OB, etc.), so we will be top-of-mind when people need to use those services.

Doctor participation is significant here; part of the content is provided by Inova Health System physicians. This program is a creative way to allow community members to engage with doctors and showcase our strengths (within Stark restrictions of course).

Darrel Green is your spokesman, and has made a big time commitment to this project – what’s his motivation?

Darrell Green is a natural for this project. He has been committed to fitness all of his life: in the NFL, he was known as the fastest man in football — and at 50, he is nearly as fast. Plus, Darrell has been in the Northern Virginia community for more than 27 years. When we approached him to be part of a program to spread wellness and fitness to the community, he naturally jumped at the chance. The fact that Darrell is a local celebrity attracts a lot of attention, and it’s a bonus that the message is authentic to him.

Best of all, we were thrilled to see that Darrell is a natural in front of the camera –his video segments show how fun and entertaining fitness can be.

Social media is at the heart of FitFor50; incorporating  Facebook, YouTube and Twitter – describe how these services are used together

YouTube Videos can be watched and spread virally through YouTube, and for employees who can’t access YouTube at work, the videos will be available on the site via an internal video server. We thought it was important to have videos in both places to embrace the viral nature of YouTube. There will be at least 100 videos produced for the program.

Facebook is our major social media platform, and we are using our FitfFor50 Facebook Fan page  in three major ways:

  1. Provide regular campaign updates
  2. Encourage people in the community to meet and network with each another through the FB page (rather than worry about the HIPAA requirements and logistical complexities of having forums directly on our website). We hope members will meet and organize subgroups — in fact, we’ve already seen a post about local company forming a fan group to encourage its employees to participate.
  3. Incentivize participation with a “Meet Darrell Green” contest: Members can describe their goals in a video, photo or post, and the one with the most “likes” gets to meet Darrell Green in person.

Twitter is (naturally) being used for real-time updates about events and activities related to the program. When the 50 days begin, we will tweet out daily updates from Darrell. We’ll also be hosting a real-time video chat discussion with Darrell and Inova doctors during the 50 days, and encouraging people to ask questions via Twitter and Facebook during this broadcast.

100 videos! – How much time did it take to plan and produce those? Did you use internal staff or outside agencies?

The idea has been in formation for about a year, but we actually proposed the concept to Darrell and began working on it just a few months ago. It took a great amount of effort, and we used an external agency to help us with the design and media placement, along with another external company designing the site for us. However, most of the work – the videos of both Darrell and Inova doctors – was handled by our internal media services group.

Plus, we gave Darrell a Flip camera, and the footage he is capturing is incredible!

Besides the Web and social media aspects, what else is involved? TV, Print, mailings?

We are using traditional marketing to promote widespread awareness of the program to the community. Direct mail, public transit advertising, radio and TV PSAs will be promoting FitFor50; Darrell is also scheduled to be interviewed on the radio. We are certain that as the program gains steam, we will find more natural opportunities to promote it.

And let’s not forget the free advertising we get from our employees! We’ve built an extensive internal communications plan to engage employees in the program, and are also holding an internal competition – the hospital with the highest percentage of enrollment wins a special onsite rally with Darrell Green.

What happens after 50 days? Will it continue in some form?

While the program is officially 50 days in length (September 10 through October 30), we realize the program has already gained enough interest to keep it going indefinitely. We have ample content to let it run for longer, and officially we are saying “…for 50 days and beyond” because we can determine what people enjoy about the program then continue to grow in those directions. Just like fitness knows no age, it’s also not restricted to a limited time.

How will Inova measure the ROI on this project?

Good question. We are obviously attempting to have a great number of registrants to the program. All of those names will be entered into our CRM database and measured against future hospital utilization. We can also measure clicks within the website to links promoting our services. While the measurement is not direct (and we hope that people in the program would not need hospitalization in a short period of time), we can still measure their involvement in the program.

Finally, we will be promoting our various clinics and screenings (flu shots, mammograms) on the FitFor50 site, and then measuring the click-throughs.

You’ve been working on this for 4+ months. Looking back, would you do anything differently? Were there any surprises?

The biggest surprise was how well a less-formal, almost casual approach to presenting the content fits the program. Darrell is a natural in front of the camera, but when he – unscripted – approached a doctor and started conducting an off-the-cuff interview, we realized how much better it was than the usual stiff-looking doctor or healthcare video. We adopted this approach in all of the content, and the energy and excitement carried through. The results are golden.

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4 Responses to Inova Health gets Fit For Fifty

  1. Michelle Wood says:


    Proud to know you…your doing good things.

  2. Maggie Wolff says:

    Sounds like a great program, Chris! Looking forward to hearing more as the program progresses.

    Will you be running the 8K? 🙂

  3. coach hayes says:

    How do I sign up.

  4. Janice Grant says:

    I’m very interested n seein how this program can benefit me+my family.Sounds very interesting.Lookin 4ward 2hearing from u, so I can get started!

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