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.

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?

Survey_Infographic

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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3 SEO Tips for Today’s Healthcare Marketer


SEO Guide for Healthcare Marketers

If you’re like most healthcare marketers, SEO is just one of many, many things you’re in charge of. That makes it even harder to stay on top of the latest changes. Here are three tips to get you on the path to SEO greatness.

  1. Understand the implications of Hummingbird. You’ve probably heard Google released Hummingbird… but you’re probably wondering how it impacts you. Google is sharing very little about Hummingbird. What we do know is that it impacts 90% of search queries and is creating a search environment that places less emphasis on content featuring popular keywords and more emphasis on original and valuable content.
  2. Use Google+. You’re probably thinking: “Great, another social media channel to manage!” But Google+ and its family of related Google stuff – like Google Authorship and Google Publisher – are real game changers when it comes to improving SEO. Why? It appears Google is giving posts with Authorship and Publisher attributes more weight.
  3. Create sharable content. Search engines are recognizing that shared content is good content, and they are adapting search results based on social cues. Make sure you include sharing options on your content and most of all create content that visitors actually want to share! Think infographics and video testimonials.

Want more details on how to optimize your hospital’s website for search engines? We’ve written a SEO guide specifically for healthcare marketers, spelling out what’s changing in terms of SEO, what you need to pay attention to and how to get started. Give it read, get your plan in place and regain the title of SEO God (or Goddess!) at your organization.

How the Google Stole Christmas

Google Stole Christmas

Twas the night ‘fore Thanksgiving and Mother logged on
To the Internet looking to shop until dawn.
Black Friday then Thursday then Wednesday too,
The deals kept on coming, so what could she do?
On Amazon, on eBay, on Overstock she yelled,
On Toys R Us, Best Buy and Zappos as well!
She maxed out one credit card, then pulled out one more,
She shopped ’til she fell asleep on the floor.

The Grinch name of Goo(gle) found the whole thing quite funny,
His internet business practically printed out money.
But the season was starting and competition was high,
More aggressive tactics he’d need to get by.
Email blasts, PPC, and SEO anew,
Door buster discounts and remarketing too!
What’s that? Never heard of it? What does it do,
Asked Marvin from marketing to the Grinch name of Goo.
Our customers come and our customers see,
And sometimes they buy, but sometimes they flee.
We cannot allow them to just get away,
We’ll follow them, track them and hunt them like prey.

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No Matter What You Call It, It’s All About Content Marketing and Brand Journalism

David Meerman Scott HCIC 2013

We opened the first full day of the 2013 Healthcare Internet Conference (HCIC) with a keynote by author David Meerman Scott. Scott’s been a regular feature at HCIC over the past several years, including last year’s excellent session on newsjacking.

This year’s focus was similar, but included two other ideas – writing for your buyer personas and creating content like a news outlet.

These are trends that are getting a lot of buzz right now and sometimes go by other names like content marketing and brand journalism.

Content marketing is all about using content to engage with your consumers. Health systems have a tremendous amount of reference content on their websites – content written in a very clean, professional way that explains what the organization does along with fundamentals of diseases, conditions and treatments. That content is great, but it’s not particularly engaging. It may answer a question when consumers are at a very particular point in their healthcare journey, but just as often, that content is doing little more than filling space. Content marketing is more about providing information that addresses the various needs of health consumers and patients at every stage of their experience with a health issue.

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An Appeal for a Balanced Digital Promotion Strategy

WeighIndividuals devoted to organic search engine optimization (SEO) and those to paid search have butted heads for years. Each espouse a purist view on the acquisition of traffic that’s incompatible with the other. Does it need to be this way?

The Arguments

The SEO community argues that the power of the Internet comes from its ability to even the playing field for all involved. This philosophy to let the best content win allows small companies, even individuals, to have a voice equal to that of the largest firms. This democratized utopia has been tainted by the growing influence of paid advertising that directs naive consumers not to the best results, but to the sites able to pay the most.
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Question: Who Should Own Social Media? Answer: Yes.


nails and thread

Last week I had the great pleasure to attend the Mayo-Ragan Healthcare Social Media Conference in Rochester, MN and I found myself amazed at how far some healthcare organizations have come in their use of social media. However, while there are trailblazers, many more healthcare organizations are still trying to figure out how the proliferation of channels fits into their communications strategy, and how to be effective given their limited resources and ownership of social.

The conference format was heavy on case studies, but often light on models and theory, so what follows are my personal insights from the sessions:

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