Media monitoring is vital at the Medical Centre Leeuwarden

The Medical Centre Leeuwarden (MCL) is an excellent clinical hospital in Leeuwarden en Harlingen where acute, highly complex and basic care is provided. Next to offering care, education and innovation are important aspects of the MCL. These are topics on which the Frisian hospital positions itself both regionally and nationally.


A dedicated team of six communication professionals focuses on reputation management, patient information and possible crisis communication daily. Communication consultant Leanne Wink-Miedema spoke to us about the multifaceted world of healthcare and why daily media monitoring is vital in her job.

Helicopter view allows for faster and easier anticipation

Of course, as a communication expert, you want to be the first to know what is being said about your hospital. For Leanne Wink-Miedema, having a helicopter view is important to do her job properly. Anticipating on certain keywords helps with this. Leanne:

“Of course I want to know what is being said about the Medical Centre Leeuwarden and what is going on in society. That’s why I monitor this on a daily basis, so I can respond quickly, if necessary.”

The MCL communication team consists of five communication advisors and two communication employees. If there is a crisis, everyone has their tasks. The team then temporarily consists of a spokesperson, a press officer, an environmental analyst, a webcare employee, a patient information officer and a crisis coordinator. The environment analyst makes a report based on keywords and links the report, including advice, back to the team and the crisis coordinator. Leanne: “We must be able to perform the team’s six roles at all times. That’s why we often practice crises during training sessions and fictitious cases. Within the team, we alternate roles, so if someone is on holiday, someone else can fill their place”.

Three years ago, this method proved successful when an adjacent building was on fire. “The smoke came our way, which greatly influenced the hospital’s air ventilation. We could not perform surgeries in the OR, because our air ventilation system had to be shut off. Thanks to the media monitoring and reports, we could provide quick feedback to the crisis coordinator and act where necessary.”

The first smoke-free hospital in the Netherlands

The MCL has an older target group, mainly people 65 years and older. “We mainly reach this target group via Facebook and our website. Twitter also plays a role, for example, when there are political questions. When something is going on, people mainly write about it on Facebook”, Leanne explains. The webcare employee mostly has to do with responses on social media, and the webcare department also posts messages on the website and responds to incoming questions.

A good example that boosted the image of the MCL was when the hospital became the first hospital in the Netherlands to become completely smoke-free. An omnichannel campaign on the website, social media channels and PR created a wide reach. The hashtag #rookvrijmcl (#smokefreemcl) was added to all outbound messages to measure the impact of the hashtag. Leanne organised the messaging around the campaign, monitored responses and produced reports on the campaign’s reach. This enabled her to anticipate questions:

“We worked on our image because we were on top of the situation. Every day I made a report based on the relevant keywords and I linked the status back to the team and the stakeholders, like the Board of Directors. On social media, the webcare would mostly direct their attention to the supporters of a smoke-free MCL so that the followers became ambassadors for the initiative. Thanks to the reports, we communicated in a very controlled way and worked on our image proactively.”

Sometimes you need a bit of luck

In order to know what’s going on in the world of healthcare, Leanne follows other hospitals in the region and, of course, the news about healthcare in general. Regarding reporting, she tries to plan as much as possible on social media channels and always weighs up what would and wouldn’t suit a top clinical hospital. But sometimes you also need a bit of luck:

“We always try to find interesting things to write about. For example, swimmer Maarten van der Weijden visited our hospital a while ago. Of course, we had a bit of luck with that!”

Another great initiative is ‘de knuffelpoli’ (‘the cuddle clinic’). Children 6/7 years old are allowed to take their sick stuffed animals to the hospital, where a team of residents is ready to make the stuffed toy all better again. “It’s great to bring a smile to the faces of 1200 children and has a great social purpose. This year, the fourteenth edition will take place. The ‘knuffelpoli’ is also great for the PR value of the MCL. Children speak about it to their parents and friends, and in turn, they tell others about it. There’s more to it than just a successful event.”

Continue analysing to understand brand value

The image, reputation and brand value of the MCL are important aspects for Leanne to continue to analyse. Media monitoring is, therefore, very important. “If I didn’t have the monitoring tool, I wouldn’t be aware of what is going on in society right now. Then, I’d only be able to act when there’s already something going on instead of preventing a situation before it becomes a problem. Monitoring helps you to get good insights, guard your image and work on your reputation.”

Of course, stakeholders are also important when reporting on the latest state of affairs. The MCL Board of Directors wants to see figures and data and attaches great importance. Leanne: “I can’t go to our Board of Directors and say that I feel there are issues in the healthcare department. This has to be based on something. Now I can hand them reports, giving you more power and a better position as a communications consultant”.

Lastly, Leanne examines the brand value of MCLs compared to other hospitals. “I want this to increase every quarter because this proves that things are going well. If that is not the case, I want to know why that is. Did we perhaps not anticipate enough? This way, I always analyse my work as well.”

Tip: use the options there are!

Leanne advises other healthcare institutions to use all the options there are.

“Make it easy on yourself! And also make use of the knowledge and people of Spotler Engage. The reports give us tools with which we can hand over serious data to our Board of Directors. Moreover, always schedule your messages. This way you can also make time for important things. I always say; tools are there to support you, so make them work for you!”

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