Data-Driven Partnerships for Marketing Strategies, ft. Mount Sinai


Building and developing internal partnerships are critical to the success of any healthcare marketing organization. To achieve this, today’s healthcare marketers must collaborate with their internal cohorts to build and drive marketing strategies that are aligned with strategic objectives of the entire system and organization. From brand building to powering patient volume growth, data-driven partnerships enable marketing teams to understand the data sources that lead to the effectiveness and ROI of marketing programs and campaigns.

Join Karen Wish and John Davey from Mount Sinai, and podcast host, Alan Tam, as they dive into the world of data-driven partnerships to build marketing strategies and successes that are shaping the future of patient communications and engagement.

This conversation is brought to you by Actium Health in partnership with the Forum for Healthcare Strategists.

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Karen Wish

Chief Marketing Officer
Mount Sinai

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John Davey

Vice President Marketing Technology
Mount Sinai

mount sinai

Alan Tam

Chief Marketing Officer
Actium Health


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Karen Wish (00:00):
So we’re very transparent in the conversations that we’re having with our strategy team and our finance team so that they understand the use of the data and how we’re basically using it really solely to understand and maximize priorities and report out on the success or not success of marketing related initiatives.

Alan Tam (00:30):
Hello Healthcare. As the podcast host of this show, I’ve been very fortunate to have the opportunity to speak with many healthcare leaders as well as many health systems. And let me tell you this, when you’ve spoken to one health system, you’ve spoken to one health system, and this continues to fascinate me. As an enterprise marketer for almost three decades, nowhere have I seen greater diversity in organizational structure than I have in healthcare and especially in healthcare marketing teams. It seems that each health system marketing team is uniquely set up, but often, the business initiatives as well as the goals remain the same.

Joining me today to dive deeper in this conversation is Karen Wish, Chief Marketing Officer at Mount Sinai Health System, and John Davey, VP of Marketing Technology at Mount Sinai. Karen, John, it’s a pleasure to have you both here today.

Karen Wish (01:19):
Thank you for having us. We’re delighted to be here.

John Davey (01:21):
Great to be here.

Alan Tam (01:23):
So let’s start with you John, VP of marketing technology. That is a lot. Tell me about what your focus is and what is your role in the marketing organization?

John Davey (01:35):
Yeah, I think it’s a title that is somewhat relatively new. Again, at cocktail parties, people have no idea what that means so I usually have to define it in what I call normal human terms, which is I’m responsible for our health systems’ websites, social media platforms, digital marketing, advertising, CRM, email outreach, all things digital marketing, working really closely with obviously our leadership team with traditional marketing, with IT, with operations, with finance, all those different players. My team intersects with all of that against some very specific business goals that we’re given as a department.

Alan Tam (02:20):
Right. And Karen, as the head of the department, chief marketing officer, what is your role? And let’s dive into how you have your team set up.

Karen Wish (02:29):
Sure. So thank you again for being here. I really appreciate it. So as chief marketing officer, my responsibility really revolves around understanding and communicating about the brand, thinking about how we are going to communicate that from an advertising perspective, strategic partnerships, creative and design, and leveraging that against our entire network of over 400 physician practices, as well as the eight hospitals that we have in our health system. So we have a very, very strong collaboration with other members of our marketing team, including press, not represented here today, internal communications, and we are a highly collaborative department that works closely together.

Alan Tam (03:19):
No doubt about that, and I think that is something that’s very critical because if you don’t have great collaboration within your own department, how can you have great collaboration outside of your department, which I think is extremely critical in healthcare. So why don’t we explore, who are some of your other partners that you as a marketing organization work with to drive towards the metrics of success and business goals that you guys have?

Karen Wish (03:48):
So I think just kicking off that conversation, the way that we think about partnerships internally and externally and the way we structure ourselves is really driven by strategy. So we’re very, very intentionally aware of the strategic objectives of the entire health system and the organization. We’ve boiled that down to imperatives in our own department, which we really refer to as the three pillars. And so our focus within the marketing department is to grow, build brand, support volume growth. And by volume growth, what we mean, our patient referrals primarily, bringing patients into our health system through a variety of audiences. And then as a team, we are also very much committed to organizational excellence, so we want to be the best that we can be in terms of the marketing communications that we deliver.

So that foundation is really something that John and I and the rest of the leadership team really have in our minds at all times when we’re thinking about partnerships. Do you want to talk a little bit about the partnerships, John?

John Davey (04:54):
Yeah. Internally, I think, and we’ve been evolving and developing these relationships, especially over the last couple of years. It’s been an interesting couple of years, obviously, for every health system, ours included. And there’s been some new financial headwinds, resource headwinds that have grown stiffer over the last year or so. And as a result, the directives that were being given from institutional leadership about where we specifically need to build business have been coming from our closer partnership with the strategy group, the data strategy team. We’re also trying to look at where the biggest opportunities are in capacity. So we want to look at where there is capacity, and this is on a micro level throughout the health system, as Karen said, 400 locations, eight hospitals. When we add new physicians at any of those places, we want to build business for them and we want to fill that and meet that capacity.

And if we’re doing this in a sophisticated, efficient way, we’re looking at a couple of different data points. Where is there disease incidents? Where do we have doctors with capacity? Where are there procedures and treatments that have very clear ROI advantages to them? And we put that all together to come up with what our marketing strategies are to do volume building.

Karen Wish (06:25):
And if I could, I think one thing that I’d like to add in the spirit of partnership, something that has been recent for our health system, which has been just an incredible opportunity, is establishing a very, very strong partnership with our strategy colleagues. So what that has enabled us to do is to partner with them and understand the data sources that ultimately lead to the true ROI of a marketing campaign. And that’s for us the holy grail, because we know what our marketing investments are, but to understand which patients are responding to the campaigns and ultimately tracking them through their patient journey and the revenue that’s associated with that to lead to the return on investment is relatively new for us and something that gives us the power and the ability to really measure what we’re doing and deliver against the organizational goals.

John Davey (07:18):
We were shooting in the dark, like a lot of places, and both Karen and I have worked at multiple health systems in New York City. You’re saying every health system is different in your intro. It’s so true. And you also said that there’s a lot of commonalities. I think healthcare obviously is behind the curve in many ways, especially with modern marketing and modern response marketing. We’ve become a lot more sophisticated over the last couple of years. We still have a long ways to go, but it’s plugging in the actual value of these customers. We weren’t doing that in any sophisticated way, and many of our competitors in New York City were also not doing that. We’re making gross estimates of the value of these patients.

What complicates it, especially in New York City, is there’s a mix, obviously a giant mix of patients from commercially insured to Medicare to Medicaid. Mount Sinai proudly treats everyone. We proudly treat more of everyone, more of New York than any of our competitors, but there’s also ROI implications of that. So we would be assigning a relative gross average value to a patient that was brought in through our marketing techniques. We always knew what the I was in the ROI, but we were making these estimates for the R. And over the last year and a half, working closer with the strategy group, the data group and the finance team, we’re following these prospective patients into arrived appointments and then everything that’s attached to that. All the tests, all the procedures, all the scans, all of that value, it’s an actual dollar amount attached to that. And that gets evened out when you have which percentage of those patients are Medicare, which are Medicaid, and which are commercially insured. So you have a real idea of the R finally. And that makes us much smarter and more efficient in our marketing.

Alan Tam (09:18):
So access to data, that’s something that just really came across. I’ve talked to, again, like I said, many different health systems and healthcare leaders, access to data seems to be one of the greatest challenges that folks have on the business side. How did you guys overcome that and what has changed for you since you’ve had access to that data? You touched a little bit about attribution and being able to measure ROI, but what else has changed since you guys have been able to access that data?

Karen Wish (09:52):
So I’ll start, and I think that one of the ways we’ve been able to access the data is by building a very trusted relationship with the owners of the data, the strategy team, and also with finance, too, because the data is private and how it’s used has to be very, very thoughtfully considered. So we’re very transparent in the conversations that we’re having with our strategy team and our finance team so that they understand the use of the data and how we’re basically using it, really solely to understand and maximize priorities and report out on the success or not success of marketing-related initiatives. So I think that trust is probably one of the foundational elements that has allowed us to access that.

I would say one thing that has changed, and then John, we definitely want to hear your take on this as well, one thing that has changed is our ability to do that attribution, which is phenomenal because we’re not guessing anymore. We’re not saying, “Oh, this is the estimated, the average return on the investment.” It’s fact-based. It’s real. It’s the numbers. So that builds credibility for our team over time.

I would say the other thing that is connected to this and weighs on my mind a little bit is because we can do this attribution and because the world is so digital, the concern that I have is the potential loss of investment in the brand, in brand building where it’s harder to have that attribution when you … It’s not impossible, but it’s much harder to have that attribution when you have the television ad or the billboard. I hate to use that example because everyone has a billboard or the signage on the buses in New York City, things that give you the … or the print ad that give you an opportunity to talk more about your brand and build the brand because ultimately, over time, the consumer trends that we’re seeing are in a way towards commoditizing things.

The idea of someone needing to understand the value that the Mount Sinai brand brings versus, say, an Amazon or CVS Healthcare or whatever it may be, if that erodes over the course of time, that to me is a little bit of a dangerous cliff and something we have to balance with the wonderful ability to create attribution and show the proof against digital campaigns.

John Davey (12:37):
Yeah, I think those are two key points to frame this. The first point is trust. I’ve had some personal experience before Karen and David Feinberg came to Mount Sinai. The previous marketing leadership didn’t always have that trust. And as a result, sometimes that data, if it was shared with marketing, marketing wasn’t always trusted to use it properly so we didn’t get access to it. I’ve seen this at some of the other health systems I’ve worked at as well. Once you realize that we’re not, literally what we say to the data team, is we’re not going to use any of this data without getting your express approval for ever sharing it with anyone. We’re not going to share with anyone until we ask you and you tell us, yes, you can share that or no, don’t share that.

As Karen was saying, it’s used for us directionally and it’s used for us internally. We protect it and safeguard obviously all the usual compliance, security issues with that data because that data is so valuable. There’s so many bad actors out there that are trying to get access to that data. So we have to make sure we jump through every single hoop and we’re happy to jump through all those hoops.

So it’s the combination of trusting, and again, we’re using that data to make really data-focused decisions on how we’re going to use this investment of time, resources and money to have this return. And that also helps us open up the coffers when we need to expand into other areas. So the trust piece is really super important.

And then I think what we’re saying for the larger space of brand versus buy and build, it is so easy in digital marketing. Digital marketing is my world now. We can track everything. Everything is trackable, and it’s good for what’s working, what’s not working. We can make adjustments in realtime. It’s not a billboard. It’s not a TV spot. But as Karen was saying, we’ve seen this and this is the case at other places in our market where as people get more sophisticated about that, they start thinking, “Well, why are we spending all this money on these other modes of getting the brand out there?”

I just saw a really interesting stat that people under 45 are progressively less motivated by brand as they are by the convenience of what kind of healthcare they’re going to need or get. A lot of people are taking the wrong lesson from that. They’re like, “Well, then, brand is less important,” but it’s actually the opposite. We have to defend the brand. The brand actually is, there is implicit value in our brand that these other players coming into the market aren’t bringing in to the market. They’re bringing convenience and the market is valuing that. But in healthcare, it’s different.

As someone at one of the other sessions today made this interesting point, Amazon obviously is getting into our space, obviously. There’s lots of other players getting into our space. They have more resources. They have better user interfaces than healthcare. At the same time, Amazon got into Whole Foods and that business, that’s the supermarket business, has lost money since Amazon has acquired them. They couldn’t figure out supermarkets, and the same approach is going to be to try to figure out healthcare, which we all know is incredibly complicated.

So to me, it’s all the more reason that we do have to invest in brand to educate the consumer that if you go and get your healthcare, if you put your and your loved one’s health and wellbeing in the hands of a doctor at an academic medical center that is leading the latest innovations in every single specialty under the sun or some doctor who was hired by another big tech brand that has no experience but really has a good interface for a virtual care visit, for instance, they’re weighing the wrong data points for what’s most important to the product itself, which is your health.

Karen Wish (17:30):
And what’s interesting about that, John, too, is that I think what we are giving a lot of thought to now is how to communicate brand along that customer journey, because it is a vastly digital world, and we need to be in the spaces where our target audience is. Actually, I don’t like the term target audiences. Where our prospective patients are. And thinking through that, not only the journey that people are taking of how they make healthcare decisions but also thinking about the language that is used and what resonates with the different people that might be seeking that type of care and the content that is required in order to think about how you best communicate the brand. So it’s not the old traditional ways, but it’s really breaking it down in a very methodical way, which has multiple touchpoints to get to that.

And so it’s brand, it’s volume, it all has to work hand in hand to be as effective as possible. And I do think about how if you’re a big retailer listening to this conversation, you’re laughing about the data story, trust, sharing of data, it’s almost comical because for-profit businesses are so sophisticated in understanding their inventory and their sales to such a granular level. Healthcare has to get much better at that, and we have to get better at that very point, which is important to the prospective patients, which is access, convenience, quick turnaround times and providing that level of service. There are a lot of efforts underway to try to improve. It’s a big barge to turn.

Alan Tam (19:13):

Karen Wish (19:13):

Alan Tam (19:14):
No, I love the stories that you guys are sharing and some of the challenges that you guys are facing. As you continue to build that trust, I’d love to dive deeper a little bit more into how are you utilizing that data to build the brand, to drive patient volume? You talked a bit about the metrics and the ROI, using that data source. Is there the opportunity to continue to leverage that to drive brand awareness, to drive volume growth?

Karen Wish (19:50):
So we definitely anticipate continued use of data, whether it be the very data that John has spoken about from a digital perspective or other marketing research data that we use to support brand building and volume building, both to make the case to leadership as to the importance of the investment in marketing and also to optimize the campaigns that we’re putting forward. So it’s not us saying this works or doesn’t work. It’s the data giving the answers. And so I would expect very much to continue to lean into that.

John Davey (20:29):
I think for years at all the places I’ve worked, you’ve always had somebody in finance who said, “We’ve given you this amount of money for marketing. How do I know it’s working? How do I know that investment is working?” And for many years, as Karen was saying, healthcare has been behind the curve. We haven’t had a good answer, to be totally transparent. We’re getting much more sophisticated in answering that question, and the next level of evolution of answering that question is the intersection of the investment and brand and the investment in buy and build and what they do to support each other.

At other sessions today, we talked about there’s one way of framing it where it’s the risk if you don’t invest in brand. It’s not just, okay, if you invest in brand and you invest in buy and build, here’s what you get as a return, especially in a competitive market like New York City where you have lots of great brands with lots of great product and they’re right up the street from each other. We all are. It’s the assumption if you pull out of that brand investment when everyone else is still leaning into it, what’s the risk? What do you potentially lose? So it’s making that case and using data to make that argument.

Alan Tam (21:55):
I love that. What is the right level of measurement there? Do you then gravitate towards volume growth as the, I’ll call it, the chief KPI and is that correct? Is that the correct way to measure it? And if not, what is the correct way to measure it?

John Davey (22:15):
I’ll take the first crack at that.

Karen Wish (22:16):

John Davey (22:16):
I think it’s dependent upon the audience. So the different audiences are going to have very different needs for how they want you to answer that question from their perspective. And finance is one. Institutional leadership is another. The board is another. Chairs of departments, hospital presidents, they all have their unique needs and requirements, and they all want us to be able to help them meet those needs. And so I think it’s always going to be a combination like understanding what they want to hear and give them the answer, again, with facts and with data to help them meet their needs.

Karen Wish (22:59):
And I think the only thing I’d add to that is at the end of the day, why are we here and what are we doing? And the answer to that question is patients need healthcare. This is about the patients. And one of the leaders in our organization, Dave Feinberg, makes the statement that marketing helps to save lives. I think he says marketing saves lives. I think it really helps to save lives, to be honest with you. But I think what we’re saying there is that by communicating the right information in a way that a person needs to hear it at a time when they hear it, when it’s most relevant, ultimately that helps them make the right decision and get the care that they need.

So in the world today, in our world today, we see a lot of urgent cares popping up that are handling more basic healthcare needs. But when someone needs cancer treatment or in-depth heart care or brain care, depending on what their situation is, coming to a place that is a highly specialized academic medical center is where they need to be. And how one makes that decision is based on the information that they’re seeking. And so our jobs are to be there with that information so that that patient can make the right choice for them.

John Davey (24:27):
Yeah. To add to that, I would say it’s what I talked to our team and my team about. I think it’s a giant motivator when, as Karen referenced, when Dave Feinberg says marketing saves lives. I always say we’re not selling widgets, especially over the last couple of years. We were selling something that was saving the world and our little portion of it. When the epicenter of COVID was on New York City, it was Mount Sinai and our other colleague hospitals saving the world. That’s what we’re providing. We’re not selling a little widget. We’re selling something that someone or their loved one desperately needs, in many cases, in some cases, to save their lives. And we have some of the world’s greatest experts in that product.

So it’s something that is inspiring, I think, and it is the difference between what we sell in urgent care. We have urgent care. We have primary care. A lot of people who go to virtual urgent care, regular urgent care, they receive the care they need and then that’s it. But there’s the other percentage of people who go there and need much more and they had a dead end there. That’s what we provide. That’s what we always will provide. It’s a model that can’t be replicated. The amount of expertise, the amount of increased outcomes and volume successes with secondary and tertiary and quaternary care, you can’t replicate that in a model and you can’t have an outside player who has a lot of resources and a lot of tech to replicate that. That’s what we offer.

And so that’s why we have a product that’s beyond a widget and we have to find out ways to get that product in front of the right people with the right message and make it … That’s where we have to do more. Make it just as easy for them to access the care through us as they would through any of these other players that are entering our market.

Karen Wish (26:35):
Which I actually do think goes back to your original question about our team structure, and I want to be very respectful of some of the team members that are not represented here. If you think about the importance of press, for example, we have physician scientists who are developing breakthroughs. We are advancing the science of medicine that can ultimately lead to cures, that can lead to saving lives. So those stories need to get out into the market, and the press team is the team that’s finding the stories. They’re the journalists. They’re the ones that are putting them out there. Our other teams leverage that information.

We have an internal communications team that does the best that they can to keep our 45,000 employees. Think about that, 45,000 employees. That’s like a little city, right? Informed as to what’s happening in our healthcare space. And all of that content, the content that’s created feeds other areas. We have an incredibly robust social media capability not to be underestimated, and we’re leveraging all of that content. It’s coming together. We’re measuring it wherever we possibly can to deliver the best possible information to the patients who ultimately need our care.

Alan Tam (27:52):
That makes a lot of sense. Obviously, it takes a village, right? It’s just not a single department.

Karen Wish (27:57):
It takes a village. Yeah.

Alan Tam (27:59):
So what strategies and programs have you all found to be most effective in terms of volume growth?

John Davey (28:08):
Yeah. So I think it’s the usual suspects in we’ve had a lot of success with CRM. We have some good partners that take their experience with very specific campaigns. We say to them, “There’s a business need.” Leadership or a hospital president or a chair of department says, “We need to build business in X.” Say it’s some … like liver transplants. So we go to our partners and say, “Have you run successful campaigns in this area?” It becomes very important that we have obviously a good return, that we are able to hyper target not just that the segment but in our world, it’s segmenting it out. In some ways, we target commercial insurance, patients with commercial insurance, again, because that helps us cover all the other patients that we treat and that might be a loss-leader for us.

And we also have our other partners that we’ve worked with who have built healthcare audiences that we use their tools to put our message in front of those audiences, make the message compelling, make the call to action very clear. And again, we’re now tracking all of that all the way into the EMR and to the arrived appointment and then everything associated with that arrived appointment. It’s all those combination of tools and partners that we’ve been using. It’s the same combination that a lot of our competitors are using. I think in some ways in New York, we’re getting ahead of the curve in terms of tracking success.

And like we touched on briefly before, equally important is not to be afraid when different parts of that mixture aren’t working so that you can adjust, you can iterate, you can see what is working and move investments of people, time and money around to the items that are working best. And we’ve seen a lot of … It’s different combinations of these components and these plans for our different specific business needs.

Karen Wish (30:42):
And I think the other thing to add to that too is that when John is talking about these campaigns, ultimately they’re driving, right? They’re driving to the website and they’re driving to places where people can receive more information. So I don’t want to minimize that because the content that is created on the receiving end of all those campaigns is critically important the way that it’s presented. We have a very robust creative and design team that is engaged in maximizing the way the brand is consistently represented. So all of the pieces are working hand in hand, and that’s just really important because if they don’t, then you’re creating a haphazard experience for the consumer as they’re seeking information.

John Davey (31:29):
And then the other obviously really important part, almost in every campaign we now know, and obviously this is well known in our Google partners and are sharing with us that a large percentage, over 80% of folks or their loved ones are doing that research online. Even if they’re given a referral, they have a name for their procedure that they’re told they need, they’re still doing that research online. So they’re doing it. They’re going to Google, they’re going to the search engines. They’re going to WebMD, all these, Healthgrades, these places that we partner with. So we know where to find those people. We know in our industry how to find those eyeballs. We also know that our competitors are doing the same thing. And so we want to make the message compelling.

This is to Karen’s point, that it’s all the other teams behind the scenes that are creating that compelling message, our advertising partners, our creative services team, then also all the content itself, and obviously the ground is shifting. My joke is always if you think you’re an expert in digital marketing, two weeks later, you won’t be. So much is changing. So it’s trying to stay as close to ahead of that curve as possible. Content creation is going to change so much. Obviously, with all these other sessions you had today about ChatGPT and AI, and that’s entering that world, but you still need the humans who are going to guide it, who are going to create the right queries for it. And it’s a combination of all that.

As third-party data is going away and becoming more problematic, then first party data becomes that much more important. It’s building the audiences with that first party data. And then when you have them, when you create a content that answers healthcare questions that they’re asking out there and you bring them in, then it’s trying to capture them and bring them in so that you have access to them to give them more information about what other healthcare questions they or their loved ones might have. That’s the next goal that every healthcare system needs to really lean into and stay ahead of because that world is changing drastically.

Alan Tam (33:52):
Absolutely. So as you were sharing that with me, I couldn’t help but think about what would be some of the key differences as this content is shared, promoted, distributed to your existing patient community versus new patient acquisition. Are there key differences there? And if so, what are they and what can you leverage that perhaps targets and accomplishes and serves the need for both audiences versus one or the other? And then follow on to that is which one should you guys be focusing on more?

Karen Wish (34:28):
Well, I think it’s both. I think it’s the whole idea of both retention and loyalty. Content creation is one that ultimately follows the customer journey or the patient journey and is one that is designed to be answering the questions that people are actually asking as they’re at different points in their decision-making process. So I think we’re getting better at that. I don’t think we’ve optimized that by any stretch, but it’s definitely a focus of ours.

Alan Tam (34:56):
What are some of the gaps that still exist? It seems like you guys have made tremendous headway, gaining trust, getting access to that data. What are some other gaps that still exist that’s standing in your way to have a fully optimized journey and solution?

John Davey (35:14):
I think that resources are never infinite in our space. And again, there’s tremendous competition, and some of our competition has different business models and so we have to be smarter how we use our resources. We have to be aware of where those gaps are.

I think one of the big gaps right now, and this is true for healthcare in general, we touched upon this, is we don’t always have the most efficient model. And we don’t always make it easy, not just at our health system but at lots of health systems, we don’t always make it easy for the customer to get the product in the most accessible way possible. As Karen referenced, there’s a lot of focus throughout our health system, from the leadership down across all of the different major groups, about addressing that and really beginning to better understand where the customer’s needs are. The customer and their needs have evolved as you know tremendously really over the last two, three years. It’s accelerated all that. Obviously, lots of people are talking about it. How do we keep up with that?

In the old days, we could chase the fish into the net, but if there’s holes in the net, it’s wasted effort. We really have to be mindful of closing those holes and doing it in a way that it’s not what we think is the right way to do it, but really to listen and to make sure that we’re taking our limited resources and applying it directly to the biggest pain points that our customers are saying they have with healthcare in general.

Karen Wish (37:14):
And I would say too, that if your question is about gaps of things that we can control and if we’re dreaming, I’d say that how great would it be to have automated data, data that just feeds into us from an automated perspective, which hopefully that will happen sometime in the future.

And I think the other opportunity for us, even though we’re presenting here as a deeply integrated capability in marketing communications, we always have the opportunity to integrate better. Something that we’re working on as a team is actually understanding what each of our teams do in the ultimate level of detail so that if we are asking John to create a digital campaign and we’re asking our press team to put out a press release and we’re asking our content team to work on the blog, all of that takes effort and time and process. And our own internal teams, believe it or not, need to have a deeper understanding of how each of that works to optimize and truly integrate. We’re getting better and better because we have a very concerted effort around that. That was the third pillar that I mentioned about organizational excellence. So we’re working on that as well.

Alan Tam (38:36):
I think that is absolutely crucial. I think the greater visibility, transparency within the department as well as inter-department builds a lot of trust and goes a long way and paves the way for reducing barriers and obstacles down the road.

Karen Wish (38:53):

Alan Tam (38:53):
How has technology made things easier or have they not? It’s a double-edged sword.

John Davey (39:02):
Yeah. It’s made a lot of things that we do a lot easier. Again, I think especially for the digital realm, we were presenting at a session earlier today, and you can in the old days get in debates with our stakeholders. And we jokingly say a lot of times, our stakeholders are know-it-all doctors and they’re obviously super bright people and, again, they’re providing world-class care, but they also sometimes tend to think that they know marketing as well. And so technology allows us, as we’re talking about, to have access to data, and we have access now. Before we start any marketing campaign, we can assign specific success measures, specific KPIs, and we can share those at the start of a campaign with the stakeholder and then we can turn the campaign on and watch, watch how well we are at meeting those success measures.

We can also make a case if a stakeholder comes to us and says, “I want a billboard in Times Square or I want a billboard, in our world, on the West Side Highway in New York City,” which we lovingly call Ailment Alley because that’s where all of the health systems have put their billboards. We can say let’s take a step back Dr. X and let’s understand first what your business needs are and then let us find the best marketing component plan to meet those needs against agreed upon KPIs that we can track and share with you over time. And that ultimately, if we do this right, we’ll have a positive ROI. That’s what we can do now. Technology allows us to do that. The connection of technology to all this data, it allows us to even make the case to the stakeholder before we go off on the wrong road with the wrong investment.

Karen Wish (41:03):
And I also think one of the challenges with technology is what I mentioned before, which is in today’s world, to really be thoughtful about how to best not lose sight of the brand building so that we don’t fall off that cliff and become a commoditized service, which over the course of time can become an issue if we don’t harness that appropriately with technology and without technology. We have to really be clear on that strategically on how we get to that point. So I’d say that’s one of the challenges for sure.

John Davey (41:38):
The other thing it really allows us to do, obviously, if done right, and this is not just about healthcare marketing, but obviously these techniques with technology have been brought to bear into our world. We can do the brand spots that sell and explain and educate about what this tremendous academic medical center that we work for and all the amazing innovation and research and clinical excellence, what it is. At the same time, the technology allows us to present a customer who has a very specific need anywhere in the New York DMA. They have very specific healthcare need. Healthcare as we all know is very complex. Lots of people don’t know where to go to turn to get the right care. They may not even know what kind of doctor they need, if they need to see a doctor.

Technology nowadays can allow us to find that person and to give that person not an ad that sells our services, but an answer to their question in a way for them to access our care to help them get back to health. That is the biggest plus that technology has been brought to bear.

We can talk about how population health, all the data can be used, technology can be used to even predict what their healthcare needs may be. If they need screening, if they’re at a greater risk for a disease or a condition, for us to have testing. All of that technology allows us to do it. We have to do it very carefully. We have to do it obviously within all the guardrails and all the compliance. As we know, there’s lots of risk there that some health systems have gotten into trouble unintentionally using that data. But if you do it right, you do it safely, it gets back to what Dave Feinberg is saying, how marketing and this technology can help save lives.

Alan Tam (43:42):
I agree with David. I’ve always viewed, as a marketer myself, I’m not a cost center. I’m a revenue generator. It’s an investment and it’s about building that top of funnel so that your physicians, your clinicians can save lives. I would say healthcare marketers don’t save lives, but they get the right people in so that the doctors and the nurses can save lives. So as we look into the next 12, 24 months, what do you both see as your biggest obstacle to driving patient volume?

Karen Wish (44:21):
We have lots of obstacles.

John Davey (44:29):
Where do we start? The biggest?

Alan Tam (44:29):
Just the biggest.

Karen Wish (44:29):
So the biggest obstacle that we’re facing is New York City is a very competitive marketplace. We have a lot of academic medical centers within walking distance of each other that are all competing for the patients that really can build the business for the organizations. And so it’s probably one of our biggest challenges.

John Davey (44:49):
And I’d add to that. As we talk about all the time and plan for and as our institutional leadership is really focused on, that’s been our competitive marketplace for years, and we’ve done a good enough job of dealing with that. But then, there’s been a lot of other people jumping into the pool, and some of those-

Karen Wish (45:10):
Yeah, the disruptors.

John Davey (45:11):
Right. Those disruptors, and some of them aren’t people, they’re sharks and they can gobble up lots of unsuspecting swimmers. And again, I think we have a very distinctive product that’s very different and has real value to it. But again, one of the other big challenges is there’s a perceptual change, and we’re seeing this in the data of how people, the general population, thinks about hospitals and it weirdly changed over the last couple of years. When you think these hospitals are the places that, again, have saved the world, a problem that was impacting a hundred percent of humans on this planet but weirdly, as a part of that process, their attitudes about hospitals have become more negative.

We can also imagine people get upset about having to be … Everything that’s happened over the last couple of years. And so we have to grapple with that. That’s a big challenge. So not only do we have more competitors, all these disruptors coming into our space, but there’s this perception, you might even say, if you look at the objective truth, this misperception of what hospitals are and what they’re perceived as being.

Karen Wish (46:34):
But it’s a challenge. So if you think about the imperative to drive patient volume, build our own brand, and then also educate about the value of healthcare systems and what they can bring, that’s a lot to do with very limited resources. So we give a lot of thought to prioritization and how we can spend our dollars as wisely as possible.

Alan Tam (46:55):
Absolutely. Well, I certainly don’t envy what you guys are dealing with, and I want to thank you from the bottom of my heart for doing what you guys do. I think Mount Sinai has an amazing crew, and they should be super happy that they have both of you at the helm to help them navigate through these turbulent waters. So I want to thank you so much both for sharing these incredible insights. It’s been very informative for myself and for our audience as well.

For folks who want to continue the conversation and learn more about how they can work to better optimize and drive their patient volume and structure their organization, what’s the best way for folks to get ahold of you guys?

Karen Wish (47:38):
For me, it would be through LinkedIn.

John Davey (47:42):
LinkedIn as well.

Karen Wish (47:42):

Alan Tam (47:43):
So Karen Wish and John Davey on LinkedIn. For those of you that are interested in continuing the conversation, these two have again shared some amazing insights. I highly encourage you to learn more. If you can make it in New York, you can make it anywhere, right? A highly competitive market. With that being said, I want to thank everyone for tuning in today, and until next time, hello.

Outro (48:10):
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