Viewpoint: Strategies for Success

Marketing communications (Marcom) dollars are like ants; they need to lift 100 times their own weight to be doing their job well. In health care organizations where Marcom budgets are small, there’s often little allocated for measuring the impact of those dollars. If we fail to show the value of our efforts to senior leadership, this can be a slippery slope for those slight Marcom budgets. It’s likely that we’ll see our budgets stagnate, if not shrink. Fortunately, there are free, or low-cost, data sources and tools that you can use to show your executive team an impactful Marcom investment. While it may take a few years of shoe-stringing it, hopefully ...
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Dare to Innovate!

With large, data-driven, consumer-oriented companies such as Google and Amazon planning to enter the health care space, hospitals and health systems must be ready to change and innovate in order to continue to be successful. However, most health care organizations are designed around the convenience of providers rather than patients or consumers. “Amazon, Walgreens, CVS, and others are far superior at understanding customer needs and delivering value than most hospitals and health systems,” said Deborah S. Fullerton, vice president and chief marketing officer at AMITA Health . “This is true also for start-ups that bring a more market-focused approach. ...
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During the daily barrage of natural disasters, radical changes in health care, and other issues, deciding how to personally respond is challenging for anyone. For hospital and health system leaders, raising their voices as part of the public discourse carries risks and rewards. Until recently, many CEOs and other leaders refrained from taking an aggressive public stand on controversial issues. However, putting a stake in the ground on social and political issues is something that Rod Hochman, M.D., chief executive officer of Providence St. Joseph Health (PSJH) , felt passionately about, which led him to engage the organization’s communications team to ...
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There are few things more frustrating for patients and visitors than trying to navigate a large, confusing hospital campus. Providing clear wayfinding is integral to the customer experience and can positively influence patient satisfaction scores, reduce the number of missed appointments, and ease stress during what is often a trying time. Making it easier to navigate a campus can also generate positive word-of-mouth and online reviews about a facility, and improve staff efficiency by reducing the number of times they’re interrupted to provide directions. At the University of Vermont Medical Center (UVMMC) , leaders were well aware that their century ...
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Content continues to reign supreme in all industries, including health care. Over the last several years, engaging digital content has only increased in importance, not only for brand building, but also for establishing trust among health care professionals and patients. At Mayo Medical Laboratories, this led us to think about how we could proactively address these trends and create a new, dynamic digital communication hub that would act as a creative and educational platform for our organization. Our Strategy This initiative required producing compelling content and a great user experience, so we began the development of Insights, which would ...
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This three-part series of monthly blogs will present examples from around the country of health care marketers helping to deploy effective and innovative population health strategies for their organizations. Understanding the Social Ecological Model Loma Linda University Health (LLUH) is located in the beautiful, rolling green hills of California’s Inland Empire. But just a few miles away, in the city of San Bernardino, the population faces many social challenges, including a 12 percent high school dropout rate, poverty, and violent crime rates that are higher than state and national averages. LLUH, in partnership with SAC Health System, placed ...
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According to Forrester Research’s customer experience index , even improving patient experience by one or two points can have an enormous impact on patient satisfaction and a health care organization’s bottom line. It’s the proverbial win-win. However, the same report indicates that not one company across any industry is earning marks of excellence for customer experience—not even Disney, the customer-first, customer experience poster child. Health care organizations have been, and continue to be, invested heavily in patient experience to improve outcomes and lower costs. The potential to realize these improvements depends on the quantity, quality, and ...
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Like many hospitals dedicated to community health, Beth Israel Deaconess Hospital-Plymouth (BID-Plymouth) had been allocating considerable resources to traditional wellness initiatives like fighting childhood obesity. That all changed when the hospital’s chief executive officer was approached by the principal of a local high school with some disturbing news. A team of journalists at the school had developed a video news segment on opioid use that revealed a drug dealer used stolen prescription pads from the hospital’s emergency department to maintain his lucrative stock of opioids. What could have easily turned into a public relations nightmare instead ...
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Voice assistants are one of the latest trends reshaping the consumer technology landscape. According to a Pew Research study [1] , nearly half of Americans use voice assistants. Most users are accessing voice assistants on their smartphones, which is not surprising given the functionality has been embedded in these devices longer than newer platforms like smart speakers. The growing demand for voice assistance The voice assistant/smart speaker market continues to grow, rising from only 7 percent of U.S. households owning a smart speaker like Amazon Echo or Google Home in the first quarter of 2017 to an estimated 75 percent of households having ...
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As the health care field increasingly focuses on population health, hospital and health system marketers need to learn how to use their promotional skills in new ways to help their organizations achieve the objectives of this model of care. “For many marketing professionals this requires a different way of thinking,” said Amy Stevens, vice president of marketing and communications at Tidelands Health. “Typically our efforts have concentrated on either increasing brand awareness or driving profitable business into our key service lines. Using our talents and the tools of marketing to support population health requires something of a behavior change.” ...
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The much-maligned focus group has undergone a facelift. Newer iterations of the focus group include the online focus group and the asynchronous, bulletin board-style focus group. (More about asynchronous focus groups later in this post.) Both methodologies use online platforms to access participant insights. Online focus groups typically use a web conferencing tool like GoToWebinar or WebEx, allowing hospitals or health systems to recruit focus group participants from far and wide to participate from the convenience of their home or office. This is a particularly attractive option for rural health systems with large service areas. It is also a more cost-effective ...
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Years from now we may look back on March 29, 2018 as the day that changed health care in America. Apple launched its iOS 11.3 update for iPhone, which includes the beta release of the new Health Records feature. It resides within Apple’s pre-existing Health app. Health Records allows consumers to see medical records from multiple providers on their iPhone, providing secure, portable, and convenient access. How convenient? Accessing your medical records will be as easy as opening an e-mail and newly created health records are automatically pushed to your iPhone. As Apple noted when it announced Health Records in January: Now, consumers will ...
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When it comes to driving revenue growth for hospitals and health systems, marketing leaders face some unique challenges: How to identify and target consumers who are most likely to use the organization’s services; how to determine what tactics will work best, and what budget allocations will provide the greatest return on investment (ROI); and how to effectively measure and communicate marketing performance. In today’s health care landscape, it’s critical for marketing departments to be able to demonstrate they are not merely “a cost of doing business” but rather an asset that can contribute to the organizational bottom line. But how? John Berg, ...
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Making The Ask

Professional development tip: If you want something, ask for it It’s a simple concept, but I often reflect on the importance of asking for what you want in life, including what you hope to get from your career. This is something I’ve seen people ignore far too frequently, and I’ve witnessed those same individuals grow frustrated when others—colleagues, bosses and others—fail to read their minds. I was reminded of this while on a recent business trip where my flight was cancelled and I faced the daunting prospect of spending five hours in a relatively small and boring airport. As frequent business travelers know, that’s never a fun prospect ...
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As patients become more responsible health care consumers, they are increasingly willing to seek alternatives to their current providers. For hospital and health system strategists, the first step to preventing patient switching is to understand what is causing them to shop around for health care. “Traditionally, our answer to retaining patients has been to become very adept at looking inward—creating patient satisfaction initiatives based on surveys that measure patient experience during and after a care episode with us,” says Kevin Stanberg, director of strategy and patient experience at Memorial Medical Center in Wisconsin. “What we’re not so good ...
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Become a Storyteller!

A well told story can be a powerful marketing tool, especially in healthcare. One patient’s experience can impact a prospective patient’s thinking, actions, and behaviors—enabling them to explore potential healthcare decisions through a highly personal lens. Dynamic Care Make Personal In 2015, the marketing team at El Camino Hospital in California began collaborating with advertising agency Laughlin Constable to take stock of market share trends, competitive threats, and more. Stakeholder interviews and a structured visioning session produced a strategic communications blueprint for the hospital. An organizing concept—Dynamic Care Made Personal—became ...
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The news of the Amazon, Berkshire Hathaway, and JPMorgan Chase new joint venture shook markets and minds throughout the health care sector. We contacted several of SHSMD’s thought leaders and collaborators for their ideas on the implications and how they responded or intend to respond. Several commented that the health care sector has been anticipating some kind of disruption from one or more of the biggest technology companies (especially Amazon, Apple, and/or Google) for some time. Alan Shoebridge, executive director of marketing and communication at Providence St. Joseph Health, and SHSMD board member, noted, “The three CEOs [of the companies] have all ...
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Futurescan 2018-2023: Healthcare Trends and Implications brings together an impressive lineup of guest authors who provide wide-ranging insights on the important issues facing hospital and health system leaders over the next five years. In particular, this year’s Futurescan provides important evidence of progress regarding healthcare’s long road toward value. Reform Mike Leavitt, former governor of Utah and former secretary of the US Department of Health & Human Services, draws on his vast experience to put the long-term future of healthcare payment reform in perspective. He urges providers to move beyond the current political and ...
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Ask the executive team at any of the 5,200 hospitals spread across the United States and they’ll likely tell you that local demographics, competition, and payer mix make them “different from the rest.” Although differences abound, all are seeing troubling reimbursement trends, all must find ways to respond to an increasingly demanding consumer, and all are looking to develop a revenue growth strategy for long-term sustainability. Such were the challenges facing St. Luke’s Hospital in Missouri. For more than 150 years, the hospital has been serving the greater St. Louis area. But the marketplace was changing in dramatic ways: Across the nation, ...
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Data analytics in healthcare is becoming more of an everyday occurrence. The idea of data being a natural resource for health systems can allow for better decisions to be made in both clinical and operations based situations. Data analytics helps to focus on real life examples of success stories being forefront in system decision making. On the clinical side, data analytics helps clinical staff treat high risk patients in and out of the health system. With regards to operations, the business benefits observed showcase how data analytics help to benefit financial tracking. Overview Mount Nittany Health, based in State College, PA is the parent ...
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