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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1 Tip That Will Improve Your Hospital’s Content Marketing Efforts

Brand-Driven-Sketch-NotesContent marketing is certainly a buzz phrase lately. And not just in healthcare marketing – in all industries. Everyone knows that content is king (excuse the cliché!) but not everyone knows how to actually go about producing valuable content.

I attended Brand Driven Digital’s Content Marketing Boot Camp yesterday and here’s a tip I learned that will help you up your content marketing game.

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Learning to Build a Better Team

team building with adhesive notes

What do you get when you gather 150 digital project managers together for two days? A well-organized conference that runs on time.

I spent two days in Philadelphia at the inaugural Digital PM Conference produced by the Bureau of Digital Affairs in association with Happy Cog™. This event is being touted as the first of its kind. There are plenty of conferences that include topics relevant to project managers as a side discussion. But to have a conference dedicated to the trials and tribulations of the digital project manager was definitely unique.

The topics covered how to manage projects from a variety of perspectives. The sessions shared ways to keep projects moving, clients happy and teams engaged. I have to say I picked up some really great tips and met a lot of “my people.”

Rachel Gertz presented “Clients Matter; So Put Your Team First.” This topic fits well into the agile culture we work in daily at Geonetric. Clients continue to make requests and our primary goal as project managers is to keep them happy, but sometimes we do this at our internal team’s expense. We are so buried in the weeds that we forget the needs of our team. If we lose our team’s confidences, we’re sunk.

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Fresh Perspectives: Build a Rewarding Long-Term Patient Experience

arms lifting ornate mirror into air

As healthcare marketers we enjoy being in control. So coming to grips with the fact that sometimes we’re not in control can feel quite uncomfortable. This growing reality was difficult to swallow a few years ago and even more so today. We need to embrace the fact we can’t control every single piece of the consumer experience. Sounds radical doesn’t it? Not being in control goes against the very nature of who we are as human beings and how we strive to become even more valuable as marketers to our communities.

Does giving up control mean losing control of your story or message? I submit to you, if done correctly, it does not.

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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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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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3 Reasons the 2013 SHSMD Annual Conference Made Me Happy


I recently returned from the 2013 SHSMD annual conference in Chicago. And let’s just say I am a new man. I have a new found pep in my step.

As a creative director interested in the current state of healthcare marketing, the SHSMD annual conference offered me a Cliffs Notes overview — packing a lot of learning and face-to-face interactions into a short span of time.

Thankfully, I returned from SHSMD13 with confidence that Geonetric is doing things right. Here are a few observations:
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Understanding Your Goals and Analytics Through Dashboards and Scorecards

Let’s face it, most online marketers (especially in healthcare) have trouble understanding their online goals and initiatives. Heck, a lot of organizations don’t even know what their goals are or how to generate good goals (I am not going to touch on how to generate good goals today, that’s for another post). And a lot of times, when organizations do have goals, they aren’t measurable.

One of the workshops I attended at the SHSMD Annual Conference this year in Chicago, IL was centered on dashboards and scorecards — specifically the right and wrong ways to do them and the information that should be going in each. Let me first go over what all of these different pieces are.
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Streamlining the Patient Experience Online

Ball in Maze

A few years ago Alicia Jansen, associate vice president at MD Anderson Cancer Center had a problem on her hands. As she explained at the SHSMD Annual Conference, potential patients were having a hard time getting that first appointment. In addition to being scared and emotional with a new cancer diagnosis, they had to jump through a lot of hoops to get something scheduled. There was a lot of back and forth as well as repeated paperwork. So Jansen decided to take on the project and make the experience better.

After analyzing the procedures and talking to the call teams, she decided to create an online experience that would make the process easier on patients and the clinics.

With the new site live and performing well, Jansen shared these keys to engaging and empowering patients online – and provided lessons learned:
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Live Longer, Better

Daniel Buettner presenting at SHSMD 2013.

Daniel Buettner presenting at SHSMD 2013.

I’ve been a Dan Buettner fan for several years now. The “Blue Zones” author has started a movement to make us healthier, not one at a time, but by creating communities which make us healthier. In fact, my community in Iowa is going through a Blue Zone transformation right now!

But I’m getting ahead of myself.

First off, what are Blue Zones? Buettner began his career as a reporter. The Blue Zones project began as a feature article for National Geographic. Visit a handful of Blue Zone communities around the world and identify the features that cause the members of these communities to live longer with fewer chronic diseases and other health issues.

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My Favorite Shatner

When I heard William Shatner was keynoting Content Marketing World in Cleveland this week, I was prepared to be underwhelmed. My knowledge of him was pretty limited; my impressions not altogether favorable. Before he got started, I posted this slightly snarky tweet.

I was clearly in the minority when I walked into the conference center. An interactive poll on the screens to either side of the stage asked:

 Who’s Your Favorite Shatner

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Confab Minnesota 2013: More than Words


This week, resident content experts Maggie and Jill joined me at the Confab Minnesota conference. We were among more than six hundred content strategists whose projects run the gamut from global enterprises to two-person Web teams, manufacturing to healthcare, retail to non-profit.

Much time was spent as you’d expect: talking about words. Creating the appropriate voice for your organization, dealing with content overload, and, in general, creating better content experiences.

If you’re a Geonetric client, this would have been familiar ground, thanks to our eHealth Symposium and clients-only webinars. You already know how to create better cross-device experiences through responsive design, why structured content is essential for the future of search, how to find the right voice and tone for writing about healthcare, and how to make smarter content decisions using data. And if you don’t have time to stay on top of it all, you’ve got a team of smart folks backing you up.

For all of the talk about content, in reality, the conference was more about people than words.

Make a Change

It shouldn’t have been a shock. Content, the Web, and marketing all become a focal point for the organization. They are the external proof that great work is being done. That brings a lot of pressure — and a lot of resistance — to the change that is required to improve the content experience for our audiences.

Three tips for making change happen:

  1. Talk to People: I’ve been amazed at how many client meetings I’ve been in where the people at the table from the same organization don’t know each other. They’re meeting for the first time because of the change—and you wonder why they’re uptight. So, go find people you don’t normally interact with. Ask them what they’re working on. Tell them what you’re up to. It’s laying the groundwork for collaboration in the future.
  2. Celebrate Their Success: Neurology just got a new, non-invasive, uh… laser cat for zapping… yucky stuff and something something. They want a new microsite filled with jargon-y content? How exciting! As you’re talking to people, figure out what they’re excited about. Change and collaboration require shared goals. This is how you get there. Shared goals also help with focus and prioritization – helping you deliver more value, rather than more stuff.
  3. Be as Cross-Functional As You Can Be: Nearly every presentation contained a photo of grain silos. The presenters talked about tearing down the walls, and working as an empowered, cross-functional team. Unfortunately, that’s not the current reality for many organizations. You have to be clever. Figure out how to get everyone to the table, open the channels of communication, and use those shared goals to help everyone pull together.

Change is never easy. It requires you to slow down. It necessitates a shift in thinking – rather than focusing on volume, focus on value. Rather than more content, more page views, more Facebook fans, it’s about getting the right content in front of the right people at the right time.

(Not a client? You can still keep up with how these types of emerging trends are affecting healthcare marketing – sign up for Geonetric’s eHealth Spotlight Newsletter.)

Brand Isn’t about Advertising, It’s about Experience


Conferences like the Healthcare Marketing Strategy Summit that I attended this week are always part education, part commiseration and part inspiration. That last bit is typically the role of the keynotes – someone from outside the industry comes in, preferably with a recognizable name or at least a few recognizable highlights from their resume, and gets all the attendees re-energized and excited about what we can accomplish when we return to work.

Former Starbucks and Nike marketing guru and author of A New Brand World Scott Bedbury fit the bill.

Bedbury’s talk wasn’t about new ways to approach brand-building, rather it was to remind us of the fundamentals. Your employees are the single biggest component of your experience as a service organization. And when you compromise in hiring, fail to indoctrinate your staff or don’t focus on morale – it can destroy your brand in the blink of an eye.

Here’s Scott Bedbury’s list of 15 branding tips:

  1. Remember that consumers are really not that into you.
  2. Respect consumer’s intelligence, their time, and their experiences.
  3. Respect what they’re feeling in the moment you connect with them.
  4. Respect the spandex rule – just because you can doesn’t mean you should.
  5. Avoid looking like Sybil (Schizophrenics are entertaining but they’re hard to know or trust. Be consistent.)
  6. You get what you pay for. Respect and reward those who help you.
  7. Remember that 5% of humanity is crazy and that another 5% will never be satisfied with anything you do. (The customer is not always right.)
  8. All brands need to be reinvented every now and then.
  9. I truly don’t think there was a #9, but hey, maybe I just missed it!
  10. It’s not what you say, it’s how you say it.
  11. Find art in everything you do.
  12. Sometimes you need to change course when it seems impossible.
  13. Unleash the human potential of your organization.
  14. Be fully present in the moments that matter most to those who matter most.
  15. Have fun.

He also shared lots of fun videos from his time at Nike and Starbucks that reinforce these points. Videos like Nike’s Walt Stack ad.

The biggest takeaway for me – brand isn’t about advertising, it’s about experience.  What you put on a billboard isn’t your brand. Your customers determine your brand based on the place, the people and the experience.

The Keys to Creating Great Content


You know it was a great workshop when you took away so many great points you couldn’t even fit them all into one blog post!

As I mentioned in my Invest More Time in Developing Content for Digital Properties post, I recently attended the content marketing workshop at the Healthcare Marketing Strategy Summit in Scottsdale, AZ this week.

One great insight I heard is the fact that truly great content marketing happens at the intersection of user needs, resources and business strategy.

As Ed Bennett, Scott Linabarger and Shel Holtz explained, to create great content, adhere to the following strategies:

  1. Align with business needs. Some content is simply going to be more valuable to the organization than others, so focus on strategically important specialties and then partner with your service line marketing folks to understand what moves the business. Content is a long-term strategy and not an event, so meet regularly to identify, prioritize, review and plan. At the Cleveland Clinic, Scott Linabarger asks the following questions to determine what content will be most valuable: What will people travel for? What do we do best? What do we offer that is unique? Where are the growth opportunities?
  2. Be user focused. This applies not only to the writing style that you employ but also to the content you choose to develop and the way you deliver it. Start with a general idea of user needs and then refine with analytics. For example, Cleveland Clinic noticed an increase in food-focused searches on its site around 4:00 pm on weekdays. Why? Most likely consumers are getting hungry or planning dinner. An interesting insight, but what can you do with that information? The Clinic started regularly posting recipes in the late afternoon with great success. To ensure that they’re posting recipes that their audience wants, they occasionally ask their Facebook followers what they’d like to see. A typical morning post might be about breakfast choices, information to help in planning your day, or a topic about things that are interfering with a good night’s sleep. Mid-afternoon is often recipes. While a late night post could discuss how doing yoga improves sleep.
  3. Editorial calendar. It’s hard to consistently deliver great content if you’re waiting for a spark of inspiration. Plan in advance what content is needed and commit to a regular schedule.
  4. Stretch your content investments by leveraging a range of formats. Look, for example, at how McKinsey Quarterly unbundles research reports – they offer a summary abstract, the full report, the full report in eBook format, along with podcasts, short video interviews and sometimes even infographics.

For more information on content marketing and content production for your website, check out Geonetric’s white paper on Web writing for healthcare and learn more about the latest in content marketing trends.