About Ben Dillon

It’s not just Ben’s sultry radio-voice that makes him the perfect person to be Geonetric’s eHealth Evangelist, although we do believe that increases attendance to our webinars. It’s the fact that Ben’s a thought leader. He follows healthcare technology trends like other people follow sports teams. He’s constantly researching and analyzing everything from social media strategies to accountable care organizations and determining what it all means to Geonetric, our clients and the industry as a whole. This sought-after speaker and current SHSMD board member wasn’t always in the spotlight, previously working in business process re-engineering and software development with the University of Iowa Healthcare and the Michigan Insurance Bureau. He holds a bachelor’s degree in computer engineering from the University of Michigan and a master’s degree in eBusiness and strategic management from the University of Iowa. If you saw this man’s calendar you’d be very surprised to learn that in between all his trade rag interviews and speaking engagement prep he still finds time to feed his Twitter addiction and play the Big House with the University of Michigan Alumni marching band.

How Doctors Can Help with Online Physician Promotion

physician-promotion-QA2In our recent webinar, Online Physician Promotion: Increasing Conversions to Fill Schedules one attendee asked an interesting question from the point of view we don’t always get – from the provider. Let’s take a look at the question and how doctors play an important role in their own online promotion.

“If you are a physician, what can you do if your institution is not really helpful in promoting you and just has a static page that no one really checks?”

For starters, don’t make any assumptions. The provider relations team or the Web team should be able to share how much traffic a doctor’s profile gets and what typical providers in the organization get in general. It’s probably more than you think! Continue reading

Your Top Online Physician Promotion Questions Answered

physician-promotion-QA

We clearly hit a hot topic with last week’s webinar, Online Physician Promotion: Increasing Conversions to Fill Schedules, and attendees submitted far more questions than we were able to cover during the session. To make sure we answer all the questions that were submitted, we plan to tackle them over the course of a few blog posts.

SEO v. PPC

Our webinar focused almost exclusively on inbound marketing strategies – organic SEO, social media, and how to focus the experience that consumers get after arriving at your website.  We did, however, get some questions about the role of paid advertising in building provider visibility. Continue reading

SHSMD Taskforce Unveils the Ultimate Healthcare Strategy Guide

Strategy GuideThe forces of change are arraying and the impact on healthcare marketing, public relations, communications and planning will be significant. The change isn’t just driven from healthcare reform, it’s also coming from health consumerism and advances in technology including big data, personalized communication and CRM.

I’ve had the opportunity over the past year to be part of a SHSMD think tank exploring the future of the strategy disciplines — marketing, planning, public relations, corporate communications, and physician relations — within the healthcare enterprise.

This task force, working with David Grandy and a team of design thinking consultants from HDR consulting, interviewed, work shopped and vetted its conclusions with hundreds of professionals, executives and CEOs from both inside and outside of our industry.

The result of this work is the impressive Bridging Worlds report. It provides a detailed and actionable plan outlining the changes that healthcare organizations need to make to succeed in the future.

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VitalSite Enhancements: Big Changes are the Sum of Small Shifts

codeIt’s fun to talk about the big, new features of a product. But sometimes little features represent really important changes. One of these small but mighty features came out in our latest VitalSite® release. It’s a neat application but more important than what it does is what it stands for. It represents a shift in the way clients are using digital — and therefore a shift in the way we develop VitalSite.

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How VitalSite CMS Improves Search Engine Rankings for Your Providers

Image of a physician's stethoscope on a search box.
You’ve been hearing a lot about the new rules of search engine optimization. Google has taken away search ranking data, inbound organic click-through data, and is, in many cases, even removing more and more of the search engine results page (SERP) real estate dedicated to organic search results!

Through it all, Google has been clear – your route to good search engine placement is the development of original, uniquely valuable content.

Although very good advice, it’s not the entire story. A search ranking isn’t just a result of the content on a page.  It’s the result of a large number of different signals including inbound links from other sites, links on social media, and a host of technical indications of both quality and topical relevance.

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Any Sufficiently Advanced Technology is Indistinguishable from Magic

VitalSite-MagicI have a quote on the wall of my office stating what’s commonly known as Arthur C. Clarke’s Third Law:

“Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic.”

Think about a few common technologies – cell phones, televisions and airplanes. These were once thought to be the exclusive province of the supernatural. While they’re truly remarkable, we now take them for granted. Have you gotten angry when your phone drops a call when driving through a tunnel or when a flight that takes you across the country in the morning is delayed for an hour or two?

These are big, flashy examples of technology at work. Sometimes the greatest magic is in the things that just work, and one day you realize just how amazing that seemingly simple task actually is.

Great software can be that way.

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How the Web Can Bring Order to the Messiest Health System

health system websites

Healthcare systems are messy. Think about the growing number of different facilities and the departmental divisions that aren’t meaningful to patients but very meaningful internally. Consider the various groups battling with one another over the same patients, or the lack of a consistent philosophy and approach for a given service or procedure. It’s easy in the day-to-day operations of a health system to ignore the complexity of our organizations. I find that when we work on the website we’re pulling off the band-aid and exposing all of that mess.
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David Meerman Scott Embraces Agile, Sort of…

agile-methods

Doesn’t it sound fun to go diving in the Caribbean or to go camping alongside penguins? It does! And the people who market these types of adventures do so in creative ways that don’t feel like marketing. They create great content – the kind of content that consumers love to read and want to experience themselves.

And, according to David Meerman Scott’s opening keynote at the Healthcare Marketing and Physician Strategies conference, healthcare can market this way too. No, you don’t need sand or ocean water or even penguins.

What you need is to write interesting content. How you ask? The key is relevance.

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Rating Healthcare Rating Systems

rating-healthcare

We know patients want to choose providers that deliver the highest quality of care. They tell us so in survey after survey, after all. The trouble is – how do healthcare providers tell them they’re good or, at the very least, better than local competition?

The business of communicating quality is a tough one. There is no one clear definition of what constitutes quality healthcare. I think this surprises many people not involved in the field, but those of us who spend our time here realize the complexities of our discipline.

Every specialty has its own elements of quality. But even within a specialty, there are many different ways organizations measure what quality means to them. The number of cases performed can be important, the training the care team has completed may be a factor, adherence to best of breed practices and protocols may be the key as can be the high tech tools available at the facility.

Add to this that no two patients are alike – arriving with different levels of progression with a disease, differing basic levels of overall health and a range of comorbities, all of which adds layers to the quality picture. With all of this complexity, you begin to see the difficulty in delivering solid quantitative measures of the relative quality of, for example, cardiology programs.

The quality data that’s reported to government agencies is little help here. Truly, most patients would be shocked that one of the key metrics for the quality of a cardiology program is how long it takes for a patient with symptoms of a cardiac event to receive an aspirin!

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Savvy Healthcare Marketers are Focusing on These Top Digital Trends

healthcare marketing tactics

As a marketer, you have a lot of tactics at your disposal to reach and engage your target audiences. Wish you knew which ones were gaining traction with your peers and competitors? Well, according to Geonetric’s recent Digital Marketing for Healthcare survey, healthcare marketers are picking up email marketing, blogs, Pinterest and content marketing in 2014.

So let’s see why these tactics are topping the digital marketing charts:

  • Consumers want more personalized messaging and email marketing is a great way to send more targeted messages. After languishing in the shadow of social media up-and-comers in recent years, email marketing will be added by an astounding 15% of health systems in 2014.
  • Consumers (and Google!) want fresh content and blogs are a great way to go. Frequent updates, strong SEO and a casual voice makes this format more engaging for health consumers and more sharable to boot!
  • Consumers want sharable content and Pinterest is a great way share stories in a visual way. According to the survey, 48% of hospital respondents currently use Pinterest, with (10%) indicting they plan to have it in the next 6 months.
  • Marketers want measurement and digital channels make it easier to see what’s working – allowing health systems to be more nimble with their marketing.

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Infographic: The Answers You Need to Benchmark Your Hospital’s Web Initiatives!

There’s no question knowing how you compare to your hospital and healthcare peers is helpful. Do you invest enough in digital marketing? How does your team stack up? Does your website have the right functionality? Are you using the right social media channels?

The list of questions goes on and on. Want to know the answers? Check out this infographic!

It shares highlights from Geonetric’s recent comprehensive industry survey. More than 250 healthcare marketers just like you told us their top eHealth challenges and biggest priorities for 2014. And it’s time for you to find out… is your website ahead of your peers? Or behind? Are you understaffed and under budgeted?

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Love It or Hate It, 2014 is the Year for Content

Perhaps no item was more contentious in the results from our recent Healthcare Digital Marketing Survey than content. Hospitals love their content or they hate their content or their feelings about their content are… complex. Too much content. Too little content. Their content is too long or too static or frankly spends too much time talking about things that visitors don’t care about.

What survey respondents seem to want is Goldilocks content – not too hard or too soft, too hot or too cold. Content that’s just right.

And they want to find it now, because content is a bigger priority than ever before!

Certainly, this is driven in no small part by changes at Google over the past year. I’m inclined to also believe that healthcare organizations understand that providing useful content is the key to building a valuable relationship with the consumers that they serve.

What’s the Most Valuable Digital Marketing Tool Available to Health Systems Today?

Social-Media-Usage-Healthcare-2013

“Our website – but you must advertise it!” according to one respondent from Geonetric’s recent Healthcare Digital Marketing Survey.

And he isn’t alone. 89% of respondents will use their websites for service line promotion in 2014. While the website serves as the destination, the “build it and they will come” school of digital marketing has gone by the wayside. Digital marketers have realized that a broader set of promotional tools are needed to connect the destination website with consumers.

Permission-based marketing has been the name of the game in recent years with much attention both inside healthcare and across other industries paid to the benefits of social media engagement. Nearly all healthcare organizations are using Facebook (99%), YouTube (94%) and Twitter (86%) in 2014. After languishing in the shadow of social media tools, email marketing is seeing big growth in 2014 as well (up 15% to 82% of organizations)!

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