Ben Dillon

About Ben Dillon

Vice President & eHealth Evangelist

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 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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Everybody’s Doin’ It

black and white construction crane with scaffolding

Or almost everybody. Overhauling their website, that is.

Yep, virtual cranes are dotting the Internet landscape these days. In our recent research with healthcare organizations about their digital efforts, nearly a quarter completed an online overhaul in 2013 (24%) with more than twice that number either in the process of redesigning or in the planning stages (41% and 19%, respectively).

That’s a lot of construction activity. More importantly, however, is what do health systems hope to accomplish in their redesigns and why are so many of them doing this now?

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Everything You Always Wanted To Know About Digital Marketing In Healthcare, But Were Afraid To Ask!

Survey eBook Cover

I’m very excited to announce our new eBook – Digital Marketing in Healthcare, which outlines the findings from Geonetric’s recent survey of 250 healthcare organizations!

If you are involved in the Web, digital marketing, advertising or social media in healthcare or if you manage or support people who are, this report will provide critical intelligence to help your organization to be more competitive online, such as:

  • What do your competitors spend on digital?
  • How are organizations like yours staffing their digital marketing efforts?
  • What capabilities are healthcare organizations adding to the online mix this year?
  • What digital marketing tools do they find most valuable?
  • Is anyone actually using Vine?

You’ll find these insights and much more right here!

Remarketing: Somebody’s Watching Me!

Woman Holding Coffee Mug

I’ve had a lot of questions lately about remarketing (sometimes known as retargeting), a marketing technique that targets your site visitors with ads for your organization AFTER they’ve left your website. For example, I shopped for lamps last year on Overstock.com and then, for weeks afterwards, it seems like every site I visited presented me with ads for Overstock.com, many with the specific lamps I’d viewed!

You’ve probably experienced this yourself and realized that these ads are no coincidence but rather an aggressive marketing tactic by which one site follows you around the Internet with ads after a single visit.

I don’t like remarketing (so much so that I sometimes find myself writing snarky poetry about it like this). I find it to be annoying, intrusive and clumsily heavy handed. While remarketing is less intrusive when shopping for lamps – for something truly important and personal, like my health, it would be more than annoying. It would be downright creepy!

As a consumer, I don’t like remarketing and have steered clients away from the practice. But, as my friend Linda’s coffee cup reminds me on many a Monday morning, “Your opinion, although interesting, is irrelevant.” A quick Google search shows that many healthcare organizations are using remarketing today. As a technique, remarketing works for many advertisers or it wouldn’t be gaining in popularity.
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First Look: Details from Geonetric’s eHealth Survey Unveiled

benchmarking graphic

There are very few sources of good information about how healthcare marketing is adopting digital tools. Chances are you know more about how other industries are embracing digital than healthcare.

Wouldn’t you like to know:

  • What your peers and competitors spend on digital?
  • How they staff their teams?
  • What they think is working and what they consider a waste.

Geonetric’s eHealth Survey Results has the information and benchmarks you need.

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Super Bowl Ads Admit: “You Don’t Really Care About Our Product Right Now”

Ben Dillon Facebook Banner and Profile Image

Unless you are a Seahawks fan, you probably agree that the Super Bowl this year was a bit of a snoozer. For those of us watching the ads more than the game, however, it’s always an exciting evening!

My takeaway from this year’s crop of ads was a little different. A surprising number of brands seemed to be recognizing that their products just simply aren’t interesting to consumers at that moment in time.

At one level, this is obvious. Unless you’re selling beer, soda or salty snacks, the audience for the game just doesn’t care. You’re not relevant to where they are mentally at that moment in time. They are there to watch the game and hang out with friends, not to shop for a new car or change banks.

On the other hand, this speaks to the core value proposition of interruption advertising – if you get the eyeballs of the right people pointed at the screen, your message is valuable.

But what if this just isn’t true? What if the context where the advertisement is shown really does matter?

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