MLH WOmen's heart case study

Main Line Health System is a nonprofit health system with 6 hospitals and other facilities serving Montgomery, Chester and Delaware counties and parts of Philadelphia, Pa.


Main Line Health (MLH) was not the first health system to talk about the difference in the warning signs for heart disease among women. But they were the first health system in the area to require all of their cardiology physicians and nurses to complete special MedEd on women’s cardiology, as well as sign on to a dedicated women’s heart program called the Women’s Heart Initiative. 


Our goal was to 1) increase the number of appointments with MLH cardiologists, and 2) given women make most family healthcare decisions for their families (what doctor to see, what hospital to go to), steal share from competitive hospitals in MLH's market.


Other hospitals had tried a hard sell/scare tactics approach. And though the strategy we developed called for some hard sell, we focused primarily on creating an online community, and an atmosphere, in which women could learn, share and converse with each other, and with professionals. And, in doing so, begin to view Main Line Health as the authority and first choice for all things women's heart. 

The website offered a forum for discussion, blogs by MLH cardiologists, healthy eating/recipes, and announcements about monthly events, such as cooking classes, screenings, and lectures by well-known personalities. (Some of the personalities had little to do with heart care, but were a major draw, allowing us to build our email list.)  We believed we had a winning strategy, but we needed to drive traffic to the site, on a relatively small budget.


Ernest Hemingway once wrote an entire story in 6 words, which he called his best work. ("For sale: baby shoes. Never worn.") Fifty-five years later, Smith magazine, an online publication, recollected this story, and invited readers to submit their own 6-word stories. What followed was a brief Internet phenomenon fueled by thousands of submissions – 6-word memoirs, 6-word love stories, 6-word murder mysteries, 6-word presidential campaign speeches followed by 6-word inaugural speeches, and so on. HS+G borrowed this popular 6-word meme to help introduce the Women’s Heart Initiative for Main Line Health.

The home of the Women’s Heart Initiative was a website built around a powerful call-to-arms – an embedded video that featured real women, no actresses, who had their own heart stories to tell. After building the site and producing the video, our media campaign (from TV and billboards to banner ads) got the word out to women everywhere… to go to the site, sign up for screenings, and bring their friends. Then, once the ball got rolling, subsequent messaging came from the women themselves, via their own 6-word stories. 


Approximately 2,500 women enrolled in the Women’s Heart Initiative during the initial 5-month period (1,000 more than the client’s best-case projections). During the same time period, cardiology appointments by women increased 11% v. the year prior.