Do Healthcare Marketers Deliver Care?


Season 1, Episode 2

Is it time to look at marketers as part of the care delivery experience? Consumer choice is stronger than ever, and where people get their health information strongly impacts their health outcomes.

As health systems must fight so much misinformation, what strategies and tools must they leverage, and what constitutes success?

Join Chris Hemphill as they guide us through conversations about the role that marketing leaders play in today’s healthcare delivery. 

Henry Ford Health System’s (and Healthcare Rap’s) Zain Ismail interview

Chris Hemphill

VP, Applied AI & Growth
Actium Health

Dave Pavaletz

Market Strategist – CRM & Digital Lead
Virtua Health

Ryan Younger

Vice President of Marketing
Virtua Health

Virtua Health logo

Mike Linnert

Founder & CEO
Actium Health

Chris Boyer

VP of Digital Strategy and Marketing Intelligence
Beth Israel Lahey Health

HonorHealth logo

Christopher Penn

Co-Founder, Chief Data Scientist

Craig Kartchner

AVP of Marketing and Customer Experience

HonorHealth logo

Jared Johnson

Founder / Podcast Host
Shift.Health / Healthcare Rap Podcast

Shift.Health logo

Jean Hitchcock

VP, Marketing, Communications and Physician Relations
Phoenix Children’s Hospital

Available To Stream On

Apple Podcasts
Spotify Podcasts
Google Podcasts
Amazon Music
Health Podcast Network


Chris Hemphill (00:02):
Consumer experiences, major disruptors, and AI tech are shaping healthcare for years to come on. On Hello Healthcare, we dive deep on these issues with leaders who are driving change. I’m Chris Hemphill, VP of applied AI at Symphony RM, and we hope that these stories will drive you to demand or create a better future within healthcare.
Speaker 2 (00:25):
Hello Healthcare. Today, we’re going to discuss marketers in care delivery? Wait a minute. That doesn’t make sense. I haven’t seen any marketers in the ICU or helping to bring life into this world, right? Well, let’s think about what healthcare really is. Is it what goes on in a clinic, in a doctor’s office, or in an operating room, in a waiting room, or are there more factors that influence one’s health, such as the decision making process to go for an annual wellness visit or misinformation one might receive about vaccines? We’re past the world of the 1940s and ’50s, when patients weren’t even privy to their own diagnoses with so many options on providers, payers, plans, services, modalities, consumer choice reign supreme, but who influences that choice? Well, when available for discussion, the physician. But how are we making decisions the majority of the time when we’re not in a consult?
Dave Pavaletz (01:26):
Healthcare is really not much different than retail. Everybody always is like, “Oh, it’s so much different.” I’ve been outside the healthcare industry. It really isn’t that much different. Everyone has a need or want that they want to research and then they select what they want or who they want to go with.
Chris Hemphill (01:42):
That’s Dave Pavaletz. At the time, Dave was leading AI based outreach for virtual health. He now works on our team.
Dave Pavaletz (01:50):
So you’re seeing in healthcare now is a big shift from business to business, to direct to consumer. So physicians aren’t really the driver anymore, but the patient is, and we really have to change the way we think and understand the way that our consumers think because, there’s a lot of people coming into this realm now that we never expected to be here that has data, is utilizing data, and does have that understanding.
Dave Pavaletz (02:13):
So the classic model for direct marketing and healthcare has always been, what’s good for the goose is, is good for the gander. And the shift has to be made in healthcare to become more personalized, especially in an industry that for the most part is one of the most empathetic industries out there. So we know how to treat our patients well, but do we really listen to them and get to understand them and put this persona to them. So what does the day in their life look like? What are their pain points? What do they value most? What are their goals? And especially now in this new unprecedented daily routine is, how do we keep them safe when they come back?
Chris Hemphill (02:47):
So that’s really interesting, pain points, values, daily routines and safety concerns. These are all questions that impact care.
Ryan Younger (02:56):
We don’t treat patients, but when we connect at risk patients to preventative service and we see that they get early treatment, we can feel really good about our jobs.
Chris Hemphill (03:06):
That’s Ryan Younger, Virtua Health VP of marketing. Notice how the job is related to a healthcare outcome? It actually goes way deeper than that.
Ryan Younger (03:14):
And in this example, this is the case where we found someone that might be at higher propencity to get breast cancer, and we’re encouraging them to get a mammogram. And so we have the examples of somebody that got the message, acted on it, unfortunately had an abnormal finding, but then was quickly able to get the appointment that they needed and have the right course of treatment, be dictated by their clinical team, and kind of move them through the process. And that’s the home run. It’s helping people get connected to care that can help them. I mean, again, we’re showing a lot of revenue information, but when we start to talk about the impact it has on individual people and around getting services that they need, that’s where this becomes so important and is a critical part of our storytelling.
Chris Hemphill (04:06):
Ryan focused on the link between care outcomes, prevention, and storytelling. This is making connection between what a marketer does and consumer health. Still, I’m not convinced yet. I haven’t seen any marketers wearing stethoscopes. So let’s get some additional perspective from Craig Kartchner. Craig, is AVP of marketing and patient experience at HonorHealth. He has some interesting perspectives on stories, relationships, and care.
Craig Kartchner (04:33):
I think you hit on something, Chris, I think, perhaps without even realizing it. Several times during this broadcast, you have asked for stories. I think that’s the key. You want to focus on the end state vision, really intently on where we want to be. Don’t focus on the problems of now. That’s when you get disheartened and overwhelmed, focus on the vision and where you want to go and do it via stories, ’cause those are the most impactful, those are the most meaningful. So talk about specific examples of patients, of course, where you can with privacy concerns, but talk about specific things that they’ve experienced that exhibit the benefits of that future plan that show the fulfillment of that vision, even in small little ways, small little [inaudible 00:05:18], that’s the way to keep energy up ’cause it’s so much easier to see the impacted, get that light bulb ding like, oh, okay, I see when you go do it through stories.
Chris Hemphill (05:28):
Okay. So I’m starting to see it. Healthcare marketers are kind of a conduit between patient and physician. So if you think about it, maybe this storytelling and influence dimension does have a role to play in healthcare delivery, but let’s get a third opinion in from Michael Linnert, who’s CEO of Symphony RM.
Michael Linnert (05:46):
If we think about marketing as just the marketing department over there, that’s hard for most medical groups. But if you think about the marketing department as a tight partner with the medical group to go drive, value delight loyalty, which includes health of the member base, that fundamentally changes things.
Chris Hemphill (06:04):
That’s a big perspective shift. The marketer as a partner to the medical group. Mike, tell us more.
Michael Linnert (06:10):
And so what I often find is if we get rid of the word marketing and talk instead about patient dialogue, how do we want to engage these patients? How do we want to influence them? How do we want to inspire them? How do we want to take care of them? That changes things. But I do think without that type of partnership between the medical group and the marketing department, we’re never going to get full value and we’re never going to get full kind of delight and loyalty in their rebates.
Chris Hemphill (06:33):
Okay. Color me convinced. There can be a tie between marketing and health, but let’s put a little data behind that. In a study involving more than two million emails that went out to healthcare consumers, we wanted to see whether it mattered, whether the email came from the hospital brand name or the patient’s physician’s name. It turned out that the patients were almost twice as likely, about 1.7 times as likely to click through an email that came from their physician as the sender. You can read more about that study in the show notes.
Chris Hemphill (07:07):
This paints a picture that the choices a marketer makes influence the decisions that people make in their care. But wait, back up a bit, we have another problem on our hands. It’s clear that physicians have a high influence on patient decisions and that marketers can help amplify that influence when the physician isn’t around. But how often do we see the medical group and the marketing group operating on the same page? This is another problem. Organizational silos. If united we stand and divided we fall is true, then healthcare systems fall pretty often. So let’s set up the halo here, gold standard. What’s the consumer experience when these pieces are working together? Let’s hear a little more from Mike on this.
Michael Linnert (07:51):
It’s about standing with the customer and looking back into the organization. Today, we have a lot of silo-based execution in healthcare, and if we execute in silos, what that means is that if I’m the patient, if I’m a member, I hear from each silo individually, because each silo is optimizing for what they’re trying to do with me and what the metrics they’re trying to drive. But in other industries, in other consumer service industries, the marketing department goes and stands next to the member and says, “I am the gatekeeper. I am the trusted advisor here with the member. Silos, if you would like to reach out to Mike, you talk to me, the advisor, I will adjudicate through AI. I will adjudicate what’s the most valuable thing to talk about based on a combination of what you would like to talk to him about, but also what’s relevant to him right now.”
Michael Linnert (08:39):
So I’ll just give you really simple example. It may be the case that I’m past due for a colonoscopy. And so everybody would like to talk to me about getting a colonoscopy and that may have big value for me and for the health system. But if my son has a pretty bad peanut allergy and we just opened a peanut allergy clinic and there’s a trial to desensitize kids, I as a dad would much rather hear about that. And so when you reach out to me, know me a little bit, and if we can put the AI in place that actually looks across, not just my relationship, but about the whole family unit and all the portfolio things we could do, it will change my connection to the health system. I often use the example. Today, I bank, I financial service, so to speak, with Wells Fargo, but I healthcare with Dr. [inaudible 00:09:26]. I would need to be able to say that I healthcare with my provider as an organization because they’re so good at looking across the organization and figuring out what has value to me.
Chris Hemphill (09:35):
That sounds fantastic, but how do we get there? Chris Boyer, who you might know from his weekly touchpoint podcast, has powerful perspectives on breaking data silos that cause discord in major institutions. He’s led digital departments at places like Northwell, Anova and Fairview health services, and he’s now VP of Digital Strategy at Beth Israel, Lehe health, which is affiliated with Harvard medical school.
Chris Boyer (10:02):
We have notoriously built an organization or an industry where we have silos of data. We’re data rich, but information poor in some cases.
Chris Hemphill (10:10):
Data rich, but information poor. Write that one down, folks.
Chris Boyer (10:14):
And trying to segment that data to together becomes very much a challenge. And oftentimes it’s because we have different competing interests in mind. I’m reminded at the last health system I was working at, I was bringing forward experience data that came from the front end, from how they work on the website, how they’re interacting with our social content, the reviews that they were giving us on Google and et cetera. And I was meeting with the patient experience people that were looking at the clinical measures and the metrics in that regard and even getting together and just talking about that. We weren’t on the same level set. And why that is, is because we were trying to solve different problems. So I see that there’s a lot of gaps. There’s a significant amount of gaps
Chris Hemphill (10:54):
As Chris Boyer points out, addressing these gaps is a significant challenge. So how can we begin to address these gaps effectively? Well, let’s look outside of healthcare. We can’t learn by looking inward all the time. Christopher Penn, yes, another Chris founder and chief data scientist at Trust Insights focuses on AI driven marketing approaches across many industries, including healthcare.
Christopher Penn (11:19):
One of the things that is changing and is on people’s minds in healthcare is how do we get away from treating illness to treating wellness? How do we apply more preventative measures so that we’re seeing fewer things like massive cardiac events and strokes and stuff. And that requires realigning your data to understand and be able to forecast and predict beforehand, hey, these are some likely things. You do basic propensity score modeling on data around the top 20 conditions. You can get a pretty good predictive perspective like, hey, we know that obesity is a pretty big problem not just in America, but planet wide, we know cardiac disease kills almost more people than I think almost anything else. We know that COVID-19 is the number three killer in the United States, right?
Chris Hemphill (12:06):
Yes. He was right, 345,000 deaths in 2020.
Christopher Penn (12:10):
When we see what data is available, you’re right. There are two challenges. One is, where does the data live? And can we get access to it in a way that is safe and permitted, which means a lot of de-identification, a lot of governance and control over the data. And two, do we have the tools to process it? And that’s where the biggest gap is for most marketers and most industries, which is, you have the data and you have no idea what to do with it. It’s like getting a dump truck full of flower dropped off at your door, but you don’t know how to bake.
Christopher Penn (12:37):
So you’re just like, “Oh, look, here’s a mountain of white powder in my driveway. This just doesn’t really help me do anything except take up space in my driveway.” And it is that second part where marketing technology has the ability to offer some benefits to say like, “Here let’s help you build systems that can process the data. Let’s create storage engines that can analyze it. Let’s create machine learning models that can get through the data faster so that you can start looking at the mathematics underneath it and figure out these are the trends, these are the patterns. Right now, marketers don’t have that. Right now, marketers have big piles of data and no way to handle it. [inaudible 00:13:10] has a great quote, “If you’re not going to change what you eat or how from your exercise, don’t get on the scale, right? You’re not going to make any changes. Don’t bother measuring it.”
Chris Hemphill (13:18):
Pause here, breathe in, and think about all the data points that you work with that have nothing to do with engaging patients who are improving care.
Christopher Penn (13:27):
And you may work at an organization like that. In which case, again, it’s time to update your LinkedIn profile. In terms of what broader organizations are doing believe it or not, they’re not that different from healthcare. We work with some folks in automotive and they have just as many silos and just as many complexities, their stuff is a little bit less life and death, literal life and death than healthcare, but they still run to the same challenges. You look at even cutting edge businesses. The most modern companies, the most high tech companies, same challenges. They have more technology to throw at it but as you can discover, you can buy all the cool appliances you want. If you don’t know how to cook, you still are just buying appliances. Technology does not fix the problem that you don’t know how to cook.
Christopher Penn (14:10):
You burn water when you boil it. And so for a lot of companies, it comes down three things. It’s the same three things we’ve been talking about since 1964, when HJ 11 first came up with the framework as people process and technology, the technology is improving dramatically. The processes are questionable in a lot of marketing organizations and the people are not keeping up with their skills. And that’s where organizations are most vulnerable is actually at the people level because again, you can buy technology and technology will help you do things faster.
Christopher Penn (14:40):
As the old joke about coffee goes, technology helps you do dumb stuff faster. If you’re already doing dumb stuff, you make more mistakes faster. It’s only an accelerator. Imagine a football game. You have some people who can run into the end zone and score touchdown. And then you got some people who have a really good passing game, but they’re not going to be the folks who run across the goal line. Your marketing channels are the same way. There’s some channels that are going to be a really good at being defensive. Some marketing chanells are really good at passing and some marketing channels can sprint down to the end of the field, but somebody needs to get the ball to them.
Chris Hemphill (15:13):
To recap our journey so far, we’ve looked at the role that marketers play in healthcare delivery and the importance of getting the right stories to the right people. As healthcare marketers, this is a higher calling. You’re not trying to get people to binge watch love island or keep clicking on ads. Understanding this data from a patient engagement context, profoundly impacts lives. Let’s hear a little bit more from Christopher on how to focus our data driven efforts.
Christopher Penn (15:43):
Data plays a leading role in helping marketing leaders, not only [inaudible 00:15:46] the table, but guide the direction of the company. When you think about how you market your organization, if you don’t know what’s working, you can’t fix what’s wrong. The old adage you can’t manage what you don’t measure is still true. No amount of cool technology has fixed that simple basic fact. And when we look at the role that data plays in marketing of telling us, who’s interested in our stuff, how are people engaging with us? What of the things that they’re telling us through their words, through their actions, through their interactions with us, it gives us tremendous insights into how we should be changing and pivoting. One of the things that we say all the time is, data without decisions is just distraction, it is just going to confuse you. It’s just going to suck up your time.
Christopher Penn (16:30):
When you look at people who make dashboards and all these dashboard software companies, they’re making these cool dashboards. It looks like the cockpit of the space shuttle like, that’s not helpful. When we walk into a client and they’ve got a big dashboard and a command center, like, great, what of all these things here? Do you actually use to make a decisions? They’re like, “None of them. Cool. So why do you have it? I mean, it looks cool, but it’s not helping you make any decisions. And that, when it comes to, how do we use this data is the ultimate thing that if you want any marketer to improve, say what decisions are you going to make today and what data do you need to make those decisions. That clarifies so much.
Chris Hemphill (17:06):
But as Christopher’s about to point out, in healthcare, data collection isn’t just about making business decisions or guiding [inaudible 00:17:13] towards the bottom line, it’s about guiding patient outcomes and quite literally saving lives.
Christopher Penn (17:20):
If you think about the way we look at the customer journey lifecycle and healthcare, customer lifetime value actually means the lifetime of that customer. That’s one of the few industries where like, yes, you will literally be with us until you die. And there’s so many interactions and data points that are captured that are simply not intelligently used. Think about even if you remove, you anonymize it, you de-identify it completely, think about just the sheer number of data points in an EHR, how many interactions has this person had with a provider? When you look at the CVS Aetna merger, that was a brilliant maneuver because how many times do you see your primary care physician? Once, twice a year, maybe. How many times do you go to CVS? 20 times a month. I’ll get a pack of chew gum, get some milk, some eggs, get my prescriptions, that merger happened because the healthcare organization needed more and better eyes on the patient.
Christopher Penn (18:14):
How do we see the patient more often than once a year? From an insurance perspective, from a healthcare perspective, how do we know what this person’s buying? When people go to the pharmacy and they use their rewards card. Great. Now you know what they’re buying. Now you know what their diet is. Now you know what their non-pharmaceutical interventions are and all that data can be used to tune your marketing to say like, hey, we notice in this region, for example, this past week, Ben and Jerry’s ice cream was sold out everywhere, why? People are stress eating like crazy. Cigarettes, sold out everywhere. Beer, sold out everywhere. All that data is part of healthcare marketing.
Chris Hemphill (18:49):
We started with the role of the healthcare marketer on health, but now we’re at the role of any marketer on health, but I digress.
Christopher Penn (18:56):
All that data could be part of your marketing, if you are using it well, and you have permission to use it, and you’re careful with it, to get a pulse for what’s happening with your audience, what’s happening with your patients in their lives. And one of the really unique things about healthcare marketing is that you can use this data responsibly to guide outcomes. You can say, “Hey, we’re noticing there’s a substantial number of people who are buying this garbage, fast food and it’s going up in this region. We know in 20 years time, we’re going to have a major cardiovascular problem in this area if this does not change, if these behaviors don’t change.” So if you have that data, you can start to help guide it and say, “Hey, you know what? This looks like a food desert. We need to fix this. How can we use marketing’s power to communicate with people? These are better choices or worst choices you could make if you want to see your grandkids graduate college.”
Chris Hemphill (19:46):
We just got a strong perspective from Christopher Penn, who leads many projects in and out of healthcare. But what about the healthcare marketer and the calling to get these data and AI driven initiatives right? As a reminder, Craig Kartchner’s work at HonorHealth is on marketing and the patient experience. Let’s hear from him on this.
Craig Kartchner (20:06):
In healthcare, we have more data about our customers than just about any other industry, it’s just, we don’t look, we don’t use it like any other industry might use it, but that’s the point, Chris, is exactly what you said. Use that data to make meaningful connections and to serve customers. And it really comes down to this, next best actions that you guys will profess about. It’s about taking advantage of every single opportunity you have with your customer, with your patient. Anytime you encounter them, whether they come to you or you go to them, you have to make the most of that precious couple of minutes or email or whatever it is, you got to take full advantage of it. That’s how you make connections and that’s how you advance your business while at the same time, focusing on the customer and connecting with them around what they need and want.
Chris Hemphill (20:55):
So what can healthcare leaders do to start driving these connections and experiences? Jared Johnson, healthcare rep, podcast host and healthcare marketing consultant, shared some thoughts on this that ring true.
Jared Johnson (21:08):
Integrate your data sources as much as possible. The fewer data sources you’re going from, the more reasonable that task is to sort out attribution, to sort out performance, and to ultimately get down to what do you trust? I’ve seen the downside of not having a source of truth or trying to integrate data sources that just weren’t even really possible to do so, and it’s a nightmare and it can suck up all the goodwill you’ve had building something on the front end that is working when people come back and you realize the source of problem was not having a source of truth to begin with. So integrating that as much as possible, I mean, it not only gives you a better, more reliable, more trustworthy data, it also hopefully makes a better experience for the consumer in the first place. So integration in my mind, it’s one of the biggest tasks, but it’s one of the most important.
Chris Hemphill (22:01):
All right. Okay. So we’ve learned a few things so far. It’s pretty reasonable to say that marketing is part of healthcare delivery. This means that healthcare marketing needs to be excellent at getting the right message to the right consumers. So the right AI and data strategies are critical. Getting this right means challenging work with breaking down silos, but it can lead to early interventions and save lives. Great. But there’s still a big piece of the puzzle that I think is missing. So let’s say you are a marketing leader at a health system. You’re awesome AI or data driven system identify thousands of people who show high cardiac risk. You engage them with consistent, timely content, and they’re showing really high engagement, opening emails, clicking links, and searching for more on your website. That’s awesome, except for one major problem, we’re only just now establishing that marketing is even related to healthcare delivery. When you show the numbers, are your senior leaders actually going to believe that your marketing efforts are making an impact?
Jean Hitchcock (23:09):
There was a time when marketing wasn’t even a department in healthcare because you didn’t need to market. So in this day and age, if you’re not measuring results in dollars to the bottom line, you’re really behind the [inaudible 00:23:22].
Chris Hemphill (23:22):
That’s Jean Hitchcock who has consulted and led major marketing projects at Scripts Health, MedStar, and many other health systems. I spoke with Jean about measuring healthcare marketing growth and this is what she had to say about communicating results with leadership. It sounds like very often, there’s a long way to go before finance and strategy believe in marketing’s results. What does it take to do that?
Jean Hitchcock (23:49):
I find very few marketing departments that haven’t jumped on the MarTech, digital marketing, and really being a partner with finance on showing how they make contributions to the bottom line. If you’re not doing that, you’re really doing marketing from maybe two decades ago. You have to show results. I can’t tell you how many marketing departments don’t market marketing. If you’re not reporting out to your board quarterly about all that you’re doing to build your brand, you’re missing an opportunity, because if the only time they hear you is when you ask for budget and they don’t know what you’re doing with the money, you’re not going to get the budget. So you need to report out what you’re doing, and it needs to be a comprehensive reporting out. People used to think if they reported out how many clicks they had or views they had on a website that meant something, no, no, no.
Jean Hitchcock (24:36):
They’ve got to sign up for an appointment now. They’ve got to schedule a test now. They have to select a position now, and that’s the kind of real business success that you need to report out through the entire attribution period for a service that you decide to take to market. If you don’t have the ability to do it, I’d say, get it like yesterday, but think about what you already have in place. So you talk to your CFO and you say, what do you think the value of a primary care patient is? Because for every physician referral that you provide, you should be quantifiably recording that. So I think it was McKinsey says it’s worth about 6,500 discounted by 50% for reimbursement, $3,200 a pop, right? So you have a new movers program. How many of those convert to actual new patients?
Jean Hitchcock (25:22):
And then most people will tell you that you probably market 10% to your existing patients. You need to really mine your own data, go into your medical record and find out exactly who you’re treating now, and some predictive modeling of what services they might need in the future. I’m a classic, orthopedic patient. I will go until I hurt so badly that I’ll finally get something done, and that’s exactly what I did. So if you know that someone’s been complaining and been taking medications and having treatments for sore joints, they’re a perfect person then to identify for orthopedics down the line. So mine your current client data and your medical record, look at new movers programs, look at physician referral, whether it’s in your call center or request to your website, and then volumes for things like ambulatory. Ambulatory is really a rich area.
Jean Hitchcock (26:17):
If people have a choice to go for services scans or whatever, really set up ways to track new patients to that, that you didn’t have before. So there are things that if you don’t have a whole big MarTech stack, you can do, and then once you start getting into CRM and things like that, you can really get very, very granular about where you’re picking up people, new physicians who are referring to your organization with the course golden growth. And that’s where you really need to focus when you start developing and maturing as a marketing department.
Jean Hitchcock (26:49):
The fun of being in healthcare marketing is getting to work with the doctors. I think that’s always been what’s been most fun for me. And once they understand marketing, they can be your biggest advocates. They’ll be the people going to the CEO’s office and you need to give them more value, and here’s why. I mean, I’ve had that experience personally, and I’ve seen it with my clients that the doctor who has the power in the organization has gone to the CFO or CEO and said, “Look, this is what we want to do. This is what we’re going to accomplish and we need the money.” You don’t even have to make the case. They’ll make it for you if it built that relationship, and I think that’s just critical.
Chris Hemphill (27:26):
Wait a minute. So Jean just said that the fun of healthcare marketing is working with doctors? We’re almost full circle here. Jean highlighted a bunch of technologies and data strategies, but her focus was in how healthcare marketers partner with CFOs and medical teams. One key part of that partnership is translating the language of marketing into the languages of finance and medical operation. Those email opens and clicks that I mentioned earlier, if you can’t show how those engagements cause growth in patient volumes and revenues, senior leaders are going to tune it out. Jared Johnson, the healthcare rap host that we spoke with earlier had some powerful thoughts on how to coach leadership on marketing metrics.
Jared Johnson (28:15):
So you’re not going to be going to executive leadership to get buy-in on a marketing budget. You’re going to be talking about a marketing investment from the very beginning. Here is what we can expect. Here’s based on information that we know. Here’s what we can do with that. So thinking of it as an investment strategy, these are things that get in the weeds but if we don’t think about them on a regular basis, then they can forward our efforts. So not even just talking about… Just realizing that’s what they want to know, that’s what an executive wants to know. We also have to be conscious of how much data we’ve put in front of them all at once. I can’t tell you how many times I had what I thought was like a pretty dynamite look in the dashboard, or report of some kind and had all the numbers that I thought they wanted to see and they kind of went looking at it, say like, “Just tell me the highlights.” And I’m like, it’s right there in front of you, and they’re like, “No, just summarize this for me.”
Jared Johnson (29:09):
So even just being aware of how much we put in front of them all at once, that, I think spending more time on that internal dialogue is key to helping everyone in the organization understand the value of what’s going on with any type of data driven marketing, especially as you have the tools that are in front of you, communicating that internally. I had operated sometimes with the assumption that everyone else understood some of the basics that I was operating on also and it turns out it wasn’t without a really continual amount of internal communications on that. So I think that’s, if we think of that in terms of the marketer’s role, first and foremost, that’s a good place to start.
Chris Hemphill (29:45):
Thanks to Jared. We now know how important it is to tell concise stories with data, but what are the stories that we should be choosing to tell? These focal points are commonly called key performance indicators or KPIs for sure. If we are looking for where to start with our KPIs, Christopher Penn has some great advice.
Christopher Penn (30:05):
Here’s the definition we use with clients for understanding marketing KPIs and defining them. What number are you going to get a bonus for this year? What number are you going to get a bonus for? If you can’t answer that question, you probably should update your LinkedIn profile because you’re not going to be working there very long. And that goes for the person, the department, the organization, and ultimately the hospital or the organization, what are you going to get a bonus for? What are you going to get fired for? What is that number or one to three numbers that matters the most? Once you understand that, then you can do an exercise we call KPI mapping. If number of net new patients is your KPI and that’s the sword you’re going to fall on, then what feeds into that? What are the two, three numbers feed into that?
Christopher Penn (30:49):
And then maybe it’s patient inquiries, maybe it’s health insurance transfers, whatever it is, now, what number feeds into that? And if you do that, then you have a very clear idea from your data, what data you absolutely positively have to pay attention to, and what data you’re going to model on. One of the things that challenges marketers so much is that, for example, in standard Google analytics, not the new one, but the standard one, there are 510 dimensions and metrics that you could measure on. There’s 500 of these different things you pay attention to, which one of these are actually important? If you have basic data science capabilities, take your KPI, figure out, put that as a one column in a spreadsheet and then take everything else that you have, put it in the rest of the spreadsheet and run a revision analysis.
Christopher Penn (31:35):
What numbers in this massive collection of data you have, have any kind of mathematical relationship with the business outcome you care about. Once you know that then you can start testing it. Okay, did this just tweets on Tuesdays? There’s a correlation. Is there a causative effect? Great. Let’s tweet twice as much on Tuesdays and if we see our response variable increased by the same proportion, then we know there’s a causal relationship there. A lot of the times, marketers are not the most quantitatively inclined people, and that’s okay, because it’s equally important to be creative, but doing that analysis will help clarify out of all the data you have, what are the things that are most important, then you can start tuning your marketing on that. You can start making decisions.
Chris Hemphill (32:18):
So there we have it, the importance of marketing and healthcare delivery and how to grow and improve that importance with data. As of 2020, there are over 8,000 marketing tech firms that promise to help you do exactly that. That’s a whole lot of technologies to learn about and sort through. But somewhere in there is the future of how your organization’s going to interact and engage with patients. How do we get ready for this future?
Craig Kartchner (32:43):
Anytime I talk to my friends who are outside of healthcare and other industries about what I’m doing and I get, you know me, I get really excited and passionate about what I’m doing. They always invariably look at me like, you aren’t already doing that.
Chris Hemphill (32:56):
We’re hearing again from Craig Kartchner, marketing and patient experience VP at HonorHealth.
Craig Kartchner (33:02):
So you’re implementing a chat bot in a live chat. Okay. You weren’t already doing that because healthcare is far behind. So the stuff that’s super cool to us, like, yeah, we’re finally doing this. They’re like, oh geez, other industries have done that for 15, 20 years. I think we’ve…
Craig Kartchner (33:17):
Because healthcare has been so far by behind when it comes to this customer activation and connecting with patients in a different way, the way they want, we’re so far behind that, it’s going to take us a while to get there. But yeah, eventually I think virtual reality, augmented reality will absolutely be part of treating people virtually, but we got to get… I mean, it wasn’t until the pandemic that we got parody in payment for treating either in person or video, finally got that payment parody and I’m hoping it stays even after the pandemic, we have focused a lot more on customer research and having actual data to back up what we’ve been saying. So we do a lot of surveys and studies, both primary and secondary. And that’s been one of those powerful things to go to other business units, other areas of the company with actual data to tell them what patients want, instead of just saying that, “I’m marketing expert and I know what the…” No, let’s go straight to the customer. So the voice of the customer research has been super powerful.
Chris Hemphill (34:15):
So what’s Craig saying with all this, if you want to know what’s in the future, listen to your patients and consumers, ask them about their interests and what they want out of their relationship with you. Use qualitative and quantitative research to dig in. Mind the hundreds or thousands of views that people are leaving online for insights and trends. How do you actually listen to your patients and consumers? What do you do to engage that process? We sat down with Henry Ford health systems’ principal transformation consultant, Zane Ismail on collecting high quality data from your patients in a way that can inform your strategies. You can find that interview in our show notes, or you can search, “How to listen to your patients” on YouTube. When it comes down to it wondering what’s in the future, cyberpunk author, William Gibson said it best, “The future is here.
Chris Hemphill (35:06):
It’s just not evenly distributed.” It’s great to know what the latest technology platforms and industries are doing. But the future that we should be trying to create is the one that our patients are asking for.
Speaker 2 (35:18):
Thanks again for tuning into hello healthcare. If you like, what you heard word, please spread the word. Tell your friends and colleagues to subscribe on Apple, Spotify, or anywhere that they listen to podcasts. This conversation is brought to you by Symphony RM. To get the latest on what these healthcare leaders are saying, subscribe to our newsletter at or join us on Fridays for a LinkedIn live session. Thanks. And when see you next time, hello.

Find the Clarity You’ve Been Missing

Learn how Actium Health is driving improved quality, outcomes, and revenue for innovative health systems nationwide.

Request Demo
Meet Some of Our Customers