Are you getting everything you need out of your data as a healthcare leader? Join podcast host Alan Tam as he explores the changing landscape of patient experience with Christine Albert, Chief Experience Officer at LCMC Health. Christine takes us behind the scenes to dissect the secret weapon of healthcare – putting your data to work.
– Why healthcare marketing is evolving – are you working for your insights, or are your insights working for you?
– Breaking down data and organizational silos: how LCMC Health is creating a seamless patient experience, from appointment to recovery.
– Building a brand that puts patients first – discover LCMC Health’s secret sauce.
– The future of healthcare: data-driven personalization and experiences.
This conversation is more than just healthcare – it’s about putting your data to work. Dive in and learn how to make your data work for you and your patients.
This conversation is brought to you by Actium Health in partnership with the Forum for Healthcare Strategists.
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Chief Experience Officer
Chief Marketing Officer
Christine Albert (00:00):
That is a proof-of-concept to scale, and although the tactic and how it comes to life is really fun, and you’re like, oh, it’s video, it’s photography, it’s writing, that feels very marketing focused or comms focused, like a lighter tactical touch, sitting behind all of that is an incredible depth of primary and secondary consumer research. So the tactic that shows up is fun and colorful, tremendous amount of data and research sitting behind it. So we’re marrying those two things, the data-driven insights, and then how it comes to life.
Alan Tam (00:39):
Hello Healthcare. As the needs and expectations of the healthcare consumers have been changing and shifting, so have the expectations of healthcare marketers. From managing and balancing the needs and expectations of internal staff, to external patients, the role and responsibilities of today’s healthcare marketers have increased tremendously. Joining me today to discuss how healthcare marketers roles are evolving is Christine Albert. She is the Chief Experience Officer at LCMC Health. Welcome, Christine.
Christine Albert (01:06):
Thanks. I’m glad to be here.
Alan Tam (01:07):
Christine, you’re the first chief experience officer that I’ve had the opportunity to speak with. Tell me a little bit about what that role is and what you do.
Christine Albert (01:16):
I’d be happy to. So chief experience officers, we’re talking about today, is the perfect example of how marketing and communication roles are expanding. So I started my career in marketing and communications and was a CMO, so Chief Marketing Officer, for a growing not-for-profit healthcare system. And we launched a really significant and successful brand strategy that elevated the role of marketing communications, but brand as a business metric, and then I had the opportunity to start leading more things on the people and operations side. So my marcom world became learning and development, our wellbeing team, talent and recruitment, and eventually HR operations. And so, today, I’ve lost the word marketing in my title, and it’s expanded to reflect this overall experience that we’re seeking to create for our people in the organization, our patients, and for consumers.
Alan Tam (02:06):
I think that’s an incredibly important role in healthcare, just because healthcare seems so disjointed and siloed compared to other industries that are out there, and I’m so happy that you’re working on this. What are some of the challenges within this role, as you try to connect the internal organization and build the right infrastructure, so that we as healthcare consumers can have a better experience?
Christine Albert (02:31):
Well, exactly what you said, the goal is we want to have a unified, ideally frictionless experience for consumers, and that’s easy to say and it’s really hard to do, and that’s really what my team and our vision is all about. So as a whole, we’re anchoring to something bigger, which is to look at everything we do as anchor to brand, it starts with mission, vision, values, it leads to your employee value proposition. How do you live that? How do people in your organization experiencing it in a meaningful way every day? And that translates to patient care. And so, rather than having these silos of HR, recruitment, and really functional, the tactical element is still there, but we’re just challenging our teams in the organization to widen the aperture, and how we think about and how we define our operations and our strategy. So it’s really dot connecting between all of these things, but really the red thread that’s running across all of them is consistency in the mission, vision, values, and execution with our employee value proposition. So how do we show up internally? How do you experience this externally?
Alan Tam (03:34):
What’s been the biggest challenge for you so far in terms of connecting those dots?
Christine Albert (03:38):
Like many healthcare system and hospital folks, or just people in the industry in general right now, we’ve never had more priorities, or more pressing priorities, and so it’s both the urgency and the sheer number. So like many organizations, we’re challenged with finding the best people, especially nurses, so dealing with a workforce and labor crisis that impacts our ability to deliver on our mission. We’re going through a lot of merger and acquisition activity as well. So for example, my system has grown to a nine hospital dual academic system, and we’ve grown consistently about every two or three years by adding another hospital or two. And so, when you think about how do you bring together a large organization around a shared vision, and the technology, the processes, the infrastructure to support it, those are really the dots that our team is connecting. So we’re really working on how do we have that consistency in the tools that allow us to deliver on the human side of the business?
Alan Tam (04:36):
So what’s the most challenging piece? Technology, the process, the people, which one would you pick?
Christine Albert (04:44):
So many to choose from there about what the most challenging piece is. I think it’s really a combination of all of those, it’s radical change management in the midst of a really high pressure business environment. And in healthcare, we’re in this business because we want to do good for others, that includes our employees as well as our patients. And so, it’s just how do you navigate a lot of uncertainty and change, not just at work, but thinking about people as a whole in your life? COVID has really changed, I think, how people think about what’s important, how do you prioritize your work, what you want to do, how you choose to spend your time, and what has meaning. And so, really having a more holistic look at organizations, the work we do, and the people who support it.
So that’s a long answer, but I think it’s acknowledging the human element and the radical change in what’s happening in our worlds, and that’s a lot to deal with as a professional and as a person. How do we do that, and how do we have reasonable expectations, and also evolve to create environments in which people can thrive?
Alan Tam (05:50):
I don’t envy your job. I think that’s a monumental task. Give me a specific example of something that you guys have done that has been truly amazing, and provide some outcomes that just blew everyone out of the water.
Christine Albert (06:04):
I have a couple of examples, but I think a lot of this sounds really intimidating, and you’re right, it’s exciting, it’s a huge task, it’s really invigorating, but it can feel a little overwhelming. But what we try and communicate, even to our teams internally, is it’s not necessarily we’re always doing new work, we’re bringing a new lens to the current work that we’re doing. So an example of that might be, how do you use digital technology to humanize the healthcare experience? And so, like all healthcare providers, on our website, we have a find a provider tool that’s really a gateway for people to find the right care, provider, or person, for whatever they need. And so, table stakes, traditionally, you’re going to see that provider, Dr. Albert, medical degrees, the bios and things you would expect, areas of specialty publications, research. And so, we took that and just said, “Consumers, we know, have an expectation that, if you’re a physician and you’re employed at this hospital or medical center, we trust that you graduated from medical school.” That’s our expectation. And so, we just said, “How do we make this a little bit different?”
So we humanized those provider bios, and so, all of a sudden, Dr. Albert, the traditional stuff is still there, but it’s lower, and we elevated a lot of our brand element, and so our brand behavior is a little something extra. So what is that thing you do every day that only you can bring? And so, for all of our providers, you have suddenly a photo that’s on brand, color, it’s relaxed, it’s not a white coat, it’s you as a person, and your bio is a little bit about you, and it’s as unique as the person. So an example of this is we have a pediatrician, who is really lovely, and his hobby is juggling, and so we have videos of all of our providers as well, and so our video of him is him juggling and talking about how that relaxes patients, especially kids before you need to give them shots, and just breaks the ice and makes everyone feel comfortable.
And so, I shared this because it’s fun to see, and you feel like, “Oh my gosh, I know that person. Even though I don’t know them, I’m choosing that person because I feel comfortable.” So just by thinking about traditional bios differently, same work done differently, brand lens, we saw a double-digit pickup to the number of organic clicks, and then conversions to appointments and revenue.
Alan Tam (08:17):
Wow, that’s awesome. So did you have a baseline to compare it to, did you use the same metrics, or did you have a control group as you went through this process?
Christine Albert (08:26):
We had a control group for this physician and provider bio exercise, because not everybody was ready to raise their hands and do this different video, everyone feels very comfortable with the status quo, and I think that’s part of what our team in healthcare is challenged with right now is, how do you have a challenger mentality for the status quo? Because people’s expectations have changed and we need to deliver on that. So we asked for some hand raisers who are brave and would try this with us, we tried it for about six to nine months, we measured against the control group, and we saw, again, that double-digit. It was hard to deny across the board, and just said, “This is really working. Physicians, you care about people connecting with you and you care about your business, it’s delivering on both things.”
Alan Tam (09:08):
So I love the example that you shared. The first thought that came to mind was Patch Adams when you went through that. So have the rest of your providers now converted over to this new format?
Christine Albert (09:19):
They have. So we’re converting, and now, as folks join our medical staff, it just becomes who we are, what we stand for, and how we behave. So now, it’s almost part of, “We’re happy to welcome you to our system, and as part of this, here’s what we’re going to do for you, but here’s how we expect you to show up in the community and for your patients, and here’s how we’ll support you in that.”
Alan Tam (09:38):
Have you been able to get any metrics and responses or anecdotes from patients who have now come onto your site and said, “Oh, I love Dr. Albert”?
Christine Albert (09:48):
We have seen that as well. Almost in parallel to this, we also launched transparency in our patient reviews and star ratings, and so that was great as well. Again, some physicians were eager to try and pilot, others were a little more hesitant, and so we had different groups running for that as well. And so, some of those comments were positive, neutral, some were negative, but by and large, those humanized bios performed exceptionally well, and that was reflected in the comments and the scores as well.
Alan Tam (10:16):
That’s awesome. How has this translated to some of the other initiatives that you’re working on?
Christine Albert (10:21):
We’re taking that as a proof-of-concept to scale, and although the tactic and how it comes to life is really fun, and you’re like, oh, it’s video, it’s photography, it’s writing, that feels very marketing focused or comms focused, like a lighter tactical touch, sitting behind all of that is an incredible depth of primary and secondary consumer research. So the tactic that shows up is fun and colorful, tremendous amount of data and research sitting behind it. So we’re marrying those two things, the data-driven insights, and then how it comes to life, that feels fun and invigorating. So we’re taking that, and we’re also scaling that, even for our people. So as we start to think about recruitment, and especially retention, same thing.
Our people are the secret sauce in our organization, and so we want them to be their unique and colorful and fun selves, and being an organization that’s based in New Orleans, we’ve got a really vibrant culture. We tend to have some really fun people and some fun characters, so we’re embracing that. And so, we’re starting to highlight and elevate our people as well in a lot of our internal and external communications, and people are resonating with that authenticity, and it still has that breakthrough element, it still feels different.
Alan Tam (11:28):
I love what you guys are doing, and I love the investments that you guys are driving into that. I think one of the challenges as a marketer within healthcare is often prove your value. Why should we invest in this? And getting budget for these new experiments and new projects is hard. How did you go about doing that, and what would your advice be for others who are trying to do something similar to what you’ve done here?
Christine Albert (11:53):
You raise a good point. Making the case for marketing and that investment is just an evergreen challenge. And so, I’d say it’s like shot selection, I play tennis, so it’s like, what shot or what pitch do you swing at? Look for a good shot. So where do you feel like you’ve got good alignment of data, you’ve got some folks who are willing to work with you and try something? And maybe it’s a low dollar investment just to test and learn. And so, that’s where we started with a lot of these initiatives, some with our clinicians who we knew it impacted them directly, and they really are the heart of the organization.
So I’d say always have that data-driven approach, and then don’t be afraid to share the same message over and over again, and to communicate the value, and basically, how do you speak CEO? How do you speak CFO? How do you speak CMO? They may not be all speaking the same language themselves, and you have to translate your marketing work, click-through rate, other things that people don’t care about except us, but what you care about is 25% more people found you, and then of that 25%, 15% made an appointment with you. That’s incredible. So it’s really learning how to translate the impact of the work, and who is better positioned to do that than marketing and communications professionals?
Alan Tam (13:07):
Absolutely, and I like how you’re fine-tuning not only the external messaging, but the internal messaging to each of the audiences that you have to partner with to make these projects successful. I think oftentimes, that’s a huge challenge for folks that are in your position, to get things off the ground and moving in the right direction. What’s been the biggest challenge, I suppose, outside of, say, budgeting, as you round the troops internally?
Christine Albert (13:37):
I think the biggest challenge as we think about rallying the troops is really adapting to new expectations for our internal audiences, consumers, and patients, and then also, having a forward-facing mentality. So doing things the way that they’ve always been done, good to know, good point of reference, but it’s really incumbent upon marketing and communications leaders to be those people who can see around corners. So our job is not to, say, order take, or to receive what other people want. That’s part of it, but really our job is to say, “Well, here’s what we know, here’s what we can see, here are some ideas to move the organization forward.” So how are you consistently and proactively sharing those ideas? People may not bite, it may not always get off the ground, but you want to be perceived and thought of as someone who is forward-facing, data-driven, but also really human-oriented.
Alan Tam (14:29):
Right. I do want to transition a little bit, and talk a little bit about technology and how technology plays a critical role for all the work that you’re doing, especially when it comes to internal projects and trying to make them external. Tell me about the technology and the stack that is instrumental to how you’re building out your programs.
Christine Albert (14:54):
Yeah, the tech stack sitting behind all of this work is incredibly important, and we’re ingesting so much information, so again, marketing, communications, it’s really good at distilling things, so you may have lots of silos of information, but using a CRM tool, customer relationship management, or things like Workday that most organizations have, those are really powerhouse aggregators, but it’s really up to your human intellectual capital. How do you use that? How can I bring this to life?
So an example of that would be, internally, as we’ve gone through a lot of merger and acquisition activity, tons of HR systems, timekeeping systems, just things that made being a system really hard. And so, like many organizations, we’ve moved to Workday, which is like an electronic health record, but for finance, HR, and all things people. And so, that’s become a real enabler of creating a human connection for our employees. So as you onboard, new hire, work anniversaries, we can automate and really use marketing automation and then brand voice so that you as an employee receive these custom touchpoints that nudge you along on recognition, celebration, internal mobility, things that really matter to people that we know, we’re now able to deliver those by using technology, but wrapped in this brand strategy, in brand voice, and really delivering on the opportunity and the progression that people are looking for.
Alan Tam (16:17):
Where do you draw a lot of your inspiration from for these projects?
Christine Albert (16:22):
That’s a great question. I think the inspiration comes a lot from honestly peers and colleagues, and having conversations like this, when I go, “What is possible?” Some of it comes personally from the experience as a healthcare consumer, where you go, “Here’s what I really wish I could receive.” And having that true consumer experience, when you’re like, “Gosh, we have a lot of work to do to make this connected, seamless consumer experience and patient experience.” And then also, just looking at the world as a whole, especially on the digital side of things, how can you use digital to deliver and scale, and then focus really the human energy where it’s best spent on that human connection?
Alan Tam (17:00):
I like the focus on digital. I believe in digital, it’s just easier and there’s so much data behind it, but so much of healthcare is also analog, and direct mail pieces, and so forth. Is that dead for LCMC, or does that still play a critical role in terms of communication and bringing folks together?
Christine Albert (17:21):
That’s a great question of how do you balance digital, traditional, all of these elements, and the thing that we’re seeing is that you really have to balance them, and then test and learn and see what’s working, and it depends on the audience and the initiative. So a good non-answer answer for you, but I’d say as things have moved more towards the digital side of delivery and audiences, and how they prefer to be communicated with become more segmented, there is a renewed efficacy of things like direct mail, for example. So you used to get a ton of junk mail, and then your email became your junk mail, and now when you send very customized or direct things via a hard copy, oftentimes people respond to it, so it’s interesting to see this full circle. And again, it really depends on the audience and what they’re looking for, but all of these touchpoints have a reinforcing effect, so you’re seeing and feeling it a variety of ways.
Alan Tam (18:15):
That makes a lot of sense. Yeah, what’s old is new, and so forth. It’s the retro look, right?
Christine Albert (18:17):
Alan Tam (18:19):
So one of the things I’m also curious about is, as you’re going through this process, what are you hearing internally from these folks who have been part of the experience? What has their feedback been? Do they want more, do they want less? Is this too hard? Wrong direction, right direction?
Christine Albert (18:42):
That’s a great question. The feedback varies, and I’ll be honest, having that status quo challenger mentality that I think is so important for marketing and communications leaders is to be forward-facing, you’re going to have friction. And so, you will have some supporters, you’ll have some agnostic folks, and then a lot of people saying, “Here’s why you can’t do it, and here’s why it won’t work.” And I think you just have to have the confidence to make a good decision and to move forward, and know that oftentimes, our work is really impactful, but rarely will it impact clinical care, or rarely can you lose millions of dollars. So those are the guardrails, so some things like testing email as a campaign tactic, it’s a safe place to play. And so, that’s not to diminish the work we do, but it’s also just to say, “What is the worst possible outcome that can happen if we try something new?” And then, not being afraid to start small and pilot.
Sometimes, it’s just the getting started is the hardest part. And then oftentimes, we found those folks who were not on board, it might be six months or a year later, and they’re going, “Do you remember when I had that great idea? I’m so glad we did that.” And you’re like, “Yeah, that was a great idea.” And it comes full circle, and then when people say back to you why it was such a good idea and why it worked, you’re like, “Okay, terrific.” And you’re onto the next thing.
Alan Tam (19:52):
How has this impacted recruiting? I’ve got to say that it’s probably refreshing for new physicians and medical staff that are coming on board to see what you guys are putting in place.
Christine Albert (20:05):
In terms of recruitment and the impact on that, we really are trying to stand out, and do stand out, I think, from competitors and just in general in the market. It’s bright, it’s fresh, it’s human, it’s lively, and so the brand is showing up really well.
But back to your question about challenges, like many others, the challenge for us on the recruitment side is the labor market is really tough right now, and there aren’t enough folks for those positions. But also, internally, it’s how do you have the excellence and the operations sitting behind the scenes? So it’s one thing for marketing and communications folks to deliver really compelling recruitment campaigns, and also use your internal folks, as well as stakeholders, to accelerate that work, but it’s another to, once you apply, to have a really fast, quick, differentiated human recruitment experience. And that’s the thing we’re really working on right now is disrupting the, “How long does it take? Will I ever hear from somebody? How quickly can we hire?” And really making it a applicant-first experience, not an organization-first experience.
Alan Tam (21:06):
If you had to take a look at the healthcare landscape, who do you think is doing it right? Who has that experience figured out?
Christine Albert (21:16):
I am not sure that anyone has totally figured it out. So I think we’re all in pursuit of this goal of having the best people to deliver, regardless of the organization, but I think elements of different organizations do it really well. So I’ve seen some organizations that really take their current workforce and just say, “We have recruiters, but who’s better to recruit than our employees? And so, we’re going to empower you with toolkits, talking points, social media, and really compelling financial bonuses. If you can find nurses or other really high-demand folks, we’re going to compensate you as we would for an agency nurse.” And so, I think that’s really exciting to see, how do you empower and enable everyone in the organization to create this culture of recruiting? And you’re going to recruit people you want to work with. So that’s an example of one organization, or several I’ve heard of, that have done that really well. And then, others have done a great job of shortening that recruitment cycle of, from application to offer, it might be two weeks or less. That’s incredible.
Alan Tam (22:17):
Right. So you’ve definitely shared a lot of successes and great examples. What are some of the things that you would advise folks who are trying to do the same thing, what are some gaps in, “Hey, watch this pitfall. Don’t step in the same mess that I stepped into trying to make this happen.” What would some of that advice be?
Christine Albert (22:39):
Yeah, I’d love to offer some advice for people to make new mistakes or find out new lessons learned the hard way and not retread what others already know. I think the key lesson for me has been to always trust but validate. So everyone sees their side of a beach ball, you can see what’s in front of you, but every person around that ball has a different perspective. So your chief nursing officer may have a different perspective than a frontline recruiter, has a different perspective than your social media manager. We’re trying to solve the same problem, but how are we starting from the same place of understanding? And so, it takes a little more time to collect that information. So it’s go slow so you can go fast.
And so, for me, that’s been a lesson learned, to be like, “Well, you said we had this many positions open, but we’re seeing something different here, and we’re seeing a lot of candidates flow in, so what’s happening?” So really having a good lay of the land situational analysis. Again, that core foundation of marketing and communications work of, where are we today, and are we sure we know where we are? Because we need to know where we’re going based on that.
Alan Tam (23:46):
Right. So what’s next at LCMC? What does utopia look like for you? How far away are you from that?
Christine Albert (23:54):
We’re in the constant pursuit of utopia, but we have really exciting things that are planned, and we have a really strong brand, and a mission, vision, values in place, but we haven’t really done our employee value proposition work. So how do we take that really strong mission, vision, values, that amazing brand that we have that people are so proud of, but now we have to bring it to life in a really meaningful way, so that’s the work that’s really making me excited, it’s so purpose-driven, but it also impacts all of our business and the bottom line. So for us, it’s taking that and making those things really real and tangible.
So an example would be, on those employee value propositions, what are we promising you as an employer? And then, what are our expectations from you to us and this reciprocity? How do we hold ourselves accountable? So that starts to show up in things that are really meaningful in your everyday life, such as your total compensation, your benefits, your incentives, our investing in you as a leader, internal ability, career progression, you as a person. So that’s the work that really has me excited. We know from a lot of research that that’s what employees are seeking and they want. They want to have this purpose-driven organization and role, but they need you to help deliver on that, so that’s the work that we’re starting.
Alan Tam (25:09):
That’s awesome. How far away do you think you are from achieving all of that?
Christine Albert (25:15):
What a big question. I think realistically, to begin this, to start this work, to get folks on board, and then to have a lot of proof points, we’re at day one and it’s starting now. So every day, we’re going to have that progress, but I think it’s probably a three to five-year runway to really transform things that are, within your system, really big scale. So you’re talking about re-imagining how you use things like tuition reimbursement or progression as an economic tool for people, as well as your community. Those are really big ideas and they are really exciting, but it takes a minute to work through the math and work through the policies, and be sure that you viewed it from the lens of everyone and that it can really work.
Alan Tam (25:57):
Right. Well, I’m excited about what y’all are working on. I can’t wait to see it come to fruition, and I wish you the best of luck in achieving that. I also want to thank you so much for your time and sharing these great insights. You’re doing God’s work here for… That’s from me as a healthcare consumer, and appreciate everything that you’re doing, so thank you so much for coming on the show today. For our audience who definitely want to learn more about what you’re working on, what’s the best way for folks to get ahold of you and get some of these insights that you’ve shared with me?
Christine Albert (26:32):
I would welcome the opportunity to connect with colleagues in any regard, because that’s, I feel like, how you learn the most and have great exchange of ideas. And I’m on LinkedIn, so I’d welcome anybody who’s interested in connecting personally to reach out via LinkedIn. And then, if you just want to learn more about what we’re doing as an organization, LCMChealth.org, on our website and our social channels, is where you’ll see a lot of this brand and people magic come to life.
Alan Tam (26:54):
Awesome. Thank you so much, Christine. So for those of you in the audience that want to learn more about how you can create an experience that can transfer and help your healthcare consumers, as well as your organization, please do reach out to Christine Albert on LinkedIn. She is a wealth of information and insights. Thank you very much for joining our show today, and until next time, hello.
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