You Don’t Know Me! Chris Bevolo on Personalization in Healthcare Marketing

Webinar

Featuring

Revive Health

Description

Personalization carries more weight in healthcare than in other industries. Missing high-impact healthcare outreach is a far greater cost than missing TV recommendations or shopping offers.

Chris Bevolo, author of Joe Public Doesn’t Care About Your Hospital, has spent a career moving healthcare towards consumerism. To help us unravel the complexities around personalization, he joins our Head of Influence services, Sarah Coles.

What you’ll learn:

  • How to focus on on personalization and relevance without being creepy
  • How to evaluate the effectiveness of personalization strategies & platforms
  • Cultural & change management around creating personalized/data-driven outreach
Chris Bevolo

Chris Bevolo

Executive Vice President
ReviveHealth

Revive Health logo
Chris Hemphill

Chris Hemphill

VP, Applied AI & Growth
Actium Health

Actium Health logo
Sarah Coles

Sarah Coles

Head of Influence
Actium Health

Actium Health logo
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Transcript



Chris Hemphill:
All right, the lights are flashing. Everybody, we’re on. Hello healthcare, hello LinkedIn, hello YouTube, if you’re watching still a bit later. We are happy to join you once again this week with Chris Bevolo, well, on the subject of personalization within healthcare. And this is personally really exciting for me and for us because way back in 2011, there was a book that came out. If you haven’t heard of it it’s called Joe Public Doesn’t Care About Your Hospital. And early on in my career I just felt like there were just weren’t weren’t enough learning resources available with regards to healthcare marketing.
So to see that book come out and take this field that was extremely niche and then share and apply some learnings across the industry was really exciting. So it’s awesome to be able to talk to you, Chris, about some of the later advancements but it’s also just an honor to… I consider you one of the founding thought leaders of this field. So, hey, any words for the audience before we go in?

Chris Bevolo:
I appreciate that, Chris, and really looking forward to the conversation. And we have known each other from afar for quite some time so I’m glad that we’re actually getting connected. Also looking forward to conversation with Sarah. This is a super interesting topic and we’ll see what trouble we get into with it.

Chris Hemphill:
Super cool about the honor to be on online with Sarah as well. Because when it comes to the concepts and Joe Public Doesn’t Care About Your Hospital, especially around personalization and the types of communication and messaging that we should be doing based on the data that we have access to and the algorithms to make predictions, Sarah, is the one who leads that across many, many hospitals that we work with. So, Sarah, excited to have you on board and anything that you want to say before we go ahead and get started too.

Sarah Coles:
No, thanks for the introduction, Chris. You’ve chosen a topic that I am very passionate about so I appreciate you having me on to talk about it. And I’m excited to talk about how personalization has evolved over the years and even more recently, so looking forward to the conversation.

Chris Hemphill:
Fantastic. And, hey, if you’re watching let us know where you’re from. Say hi to Chris and Sarah or even me, maybe. And if you have any questions or stories that you’d like to share, that’s what we’re here for. It’s not just talking heads here that have a pre-planned script, we’re ready to take any questions and stories and things like that so it’s an honor to be able to bring somebody who’s a veteran and been in this field for so long to share. And if there’s any challenges that you’ve been having at your organization in terms of not just the strategy but also breaking cultural boundaries and getting justification across departments, this is why we brought Chris on board, that’s exciting too.
Not everybody in our audience lives and breeds personalization, or marketing or things like that, we bring in volts from all corners of the organization. And one thing we like to do, Chris, at the beginning of our conversations is get back to basics and establish a definition, a term around what we’re discussing. Shout out to Terry. Terry, thank you for the hello, good morning to you too.
But, Chris, just getting the basics thing, I’ve seen personalization be used to describe a lot of things. I’ve seen it be used to describe putting somebody’s name and an email that as personalization. I feel like the folks watching aren’t watching so that they can learn to put somebody’s name and email, the big question is what should personalization mean to a healthcare marketer in 2021?

Chris Bevolo:
I’m going to come out with three different kind of answers, is that fair? Can I have three answers to a question that deserves one?

Chris Hemphill:
You can have up to five.

Chris Bevolo:
Okay, I’ll do five. Good. The first one is anything like this I think is really difficult to put a singular definition around that’s personalization and that’s not. And so, because it’s so gray and you have to live in the gray you can’t just assume it’s going to be this or that, I tend to think of it personally on a spectrum. On one end of the spectrum you could argue a billboard in my community that is promoting a new urgent care for health system is personalized because it’s focused on people that live near me as opposed to all people. Or an ad that is run on Real Housewives of New Jersey, that’s targeting a certain demographic.
That would be a really awful place to be if that’s what personalized ended up being for you, but in some ways that’s… Where do you draw the line? I don’t think any of us would consider that really personalized but where do you say, “Well, that’s not, and this is?” All the way down to a situation where everything a consumer experiences, communications, content, the services, is oriented to them for them to stink from other people. It’s somewhere on that spectrum.
If you want to know how we define it, this is what we actually call it. We say personalized marketing is a data-driven strategy that delivers increasingly relevant value to consumers through tailored solutions, content, and experiences. That’s a nice business-oriented way to define how we approach personalized. You hear data-driven in there which I know Sarah’s going to want to jump on increasingly relevant, so that’s where you go, well, a billboard that’s targeting people in a community is relevant in that I live in that community but we want to go further than that. It’s a little bit about moving on that spectrum to become more and more personalized as we leverage data and offer more than just content.
I looked up a definition we used in 2017 and we only used the word content. Today it is about solutions, content, experiences, it’s anything that you can offer. I have one more answer to that but I’ll stop there to see if you guys want to chime in if that makes sense, if the second answer is probably better than the first one.

Chris Hemphill:
No, keep going. That’s fine.

Chris Bevolo:
Okay. The other thing I’ll say is that’s how we define it. People have different definitions in this industry. Always, always, always, we should be thinking about what we’re doing from the viewpoint of who we’re doing it with at the end of the runway there. And so we have spent a lot of time working with health systems in the area of marketing and brand around personalization. And so we want to understand, well, what does the consumer think of that? When we say personalization we may mean one thing, what do they hear and what do they think of?
And what’s interesting is they don’t think of one thing. In fact, we have done surveys, we’ve done focus groups in different geographies, and we have found pretty consistently there are four different parts of personalization. And I think it’s really helpful to understand those because you can just have them up on the wall and as you go through your personalization strategies and your marketing campaigns and leveraging data, you should always be thinking about is the end result of this to the consumer fitting these four to one way or the other?
So real quickly, the first one is personalization means treating me like a human, that is the classic healthcare deal, everybody wants to be treated like a human not a number. It’s not necessarily that you’re treating me like a human differently than Chris or Sarah, so it’s curious that the consumers put that into personalization because most of us wouldn’t put that there, we’d put that under being caring or having good service, that kind of thing, deal. In our efforts to personalize our marketing we have to remember it’s got to come off in a way that feels human.
The second one, and these are in order by the way of the most prominent dimensions starting from least prominent to most, the second is we would call precision medicine. So the idea of genomics and other advances in the clinical side that actually customize my treatment different than your treatment or Sarah’s treatment. A lot of our clients think that’s where personalization comes and they want to go out there and they want to trumpet that. Consumers aren’t there. They don’t get it, they don’t understand it. If you explain it to them sometimes it actually has a negative effect.
You think it’s a positive, it is a positive, but it can sound creepy, it can sound very dystopian, so it is in there. The way I think we should think about it in terms of personalized marketing is there’s a clinical element to this. It’s not just about a service or content or anything, eventually there’s going to be a clinical element to the messages and the experiences we’re delivering if it’s not there now, in terms of being personalized.
Third one is choice. I want to receive care and service the way I want it, where I want it, when I want it. If I want to text my doctor, that’s personalized to me. If I want to go in at 9:30 at night on a Thursday to an urgent care, that’s personalized to me. Again, I don’t think most of us would consider that a dimension or a personalization, because there could be plenty of other people who have that same need, but again, put yourself in the consumer’s mind. If you’re doing all of that, that feels like you’re doing it for me based on what I want, so they define that as personalized.
And then the last dimension is what I think we all would really focus on and that’s treating me as an individual. How is my service unique to me as opposed to other people? How is my diagnostic experience, how is my treatment? How do you communicate with me in a way that’s about me as opposed to other people? And that I think is the central premise of personalization. It’s the one most of us focus on, and rightly so. We just can’t forget the other dimensions to at least consider them because that’s how consumers think about it.

Chris Hemphill:
I like hearing that kind of structure around it especially when you get to the fourth, that treat me like an individual, a lot of the learnings and a lot of the science behind the first three points go back and feed into that number four cycle. Sarah, having worked so closely in that, do you have any additional thoughts on just that basic layer of, hey, here’s what you should be defining personalization as in the first place?

Sarah Coles:
Yeah. My responses are very aligned with Chris. I like, Chris Hemphill, how you started this off with the fact that personalization is more than just a first name because that’s obviously a very basic form of personalization but we’ve evolved, I think, as marketers, as healthcare systems since then. And really it’s because of all of the data that we have and that we have access to and the ability to use it in a non-creepy way but to make the recipient feel like the content, the interactions, the time, the channel is really meaningful to them.
I look at it as maybe four different ways that we can look at a personalization, one based on the healthcare data, so just a person’s age, gender, risk profile, propensity to need a certain service, even who their provider is. So who are they as a patient? What do they need and how can we provide them with the opportunities to take action on what they need to do to stay healthy?
Another component is consumer data. Often this is purchase data, information that we know about their buying habits, whether they’ve recently moved, bought a house, where they live, all of that can be layered on to provide additional personalization to maybe direct them to a location near them, an urgent care near them, or provider near them. Another aspect is engagement data. How is a person interacting with the content that they receive? What are they clicking on? That can give us a lot of insight into what they’re interested in and allow us to serve up content related to what they’ve shown us they’re interested in without even telling us?
And then in terms of how engaged they are in different channels. Are they opening emails? Are they responding to SMS, direct mail? And that can also inform how we communicate to them in the future. And then finally, based on what they’ve told us they want. This is sometimes the best data of all. When someone opts in and says, “I am interested in learning about X, Y, Z,” and we can do this through forums and other means of opt-ins. And this is just very straightforward, I’m interested in learning more about this and so in the future we’re going to add them to campaigns related to that or serve up content in channels like newsletters that are relevant to them. All of this collectively starts building that experience that makes the whole process feel very personalized to the recipient.

Chris Hemphill:
You brought in some different behavioral dimensions that inform personalization beyond the demographics and the latent data and that provides a really accessible and actionable way to think about it too. Just if you think about your experience logging onto Amazon, you’re not only clicking the recommended products, you’re not only clicking what the data scientists are hoping that you click on, but if you search that’s you raising your hand for something. The same thing as if somebody signs up for a seminar, such as a bariatric or bone surgery-related seminar, those are people that are raising their hands for information on that additional service.
And then you’re your data-driven layer comes from, well, based on these behaviors we have an assumption or we have a guess that this might be something that they might need as well. But very apropos to prioritize the people that are raising their hands for particular issues. I want jump into something. John Marzano, raised the point. I’m not sure if we’re going to have the answer.

Chris Bevolo:
I have an answer for John. It’s not as common, we had a good chuckle about that announcement yesterday.

Chris Hemphill:
Let’s hear. I want to read it out loud and then let’s jump into it a bit. So just regarding the announcement from Epic partnering with Anthem for data exchange, good for personalization. How do we balance that with privacy and portability of that PHI?

Chris Bevolo:
Yeah. And I don’t know if I have an answer for that. We see Optum partnering with health systems in the same way on an individual organizational level. And there’s clearly benefit there. The funny part about it to us was that part of the announcement talked about how the value of this to the provider who is Epic is that Anthem will crunch the numbers and bounce back with clinical guidance for the providers. And we just went, “Oh, I’m sure all the doctors at XYZ hospital will be thrilled to get clinical guidance from the payer.” That’s always gone well historically.
That’s just one example of some of the challenges that we face to actually making these kinds of things happen because theoretically the more data we’re able to share like this, and not just between Epic and Anthem but across the industry, across different platforms, across different resources, the data, the better it should be. It should be better clinically, it should be better experientially for consumers, all of that. But we’ve got so many different cross-purposes, so many different incentives. It will be interesting to see the first time that Anthem comes back and says, “Hey, here’s what we think you should do the next time that person wants surgery.” What their surgeons are going to say.

Chris Hemphill:
I can make a prediction on that. I don’t think those kinds of things go over well with physicians unless there’s physician involvement in how the process works. I think if you’re working towards anything that requires physician buy-in, which is remember, physicians are trained rigorously in science and personalization is another science so they’ll have questions about the sensitivity and specificity, how effective it is at identifying people. So to work with physicians it can’t just be an organization telling them that, hey, this is how it’s going to be.
But I want to zoom in a little bit on part of John’s question which says, “Good for personalization.” So, when we say good for personalization that leads me to the next question we were thinking about which is, what’s at stake? If an organization can’t do personalization well or isn’t pursuing that strategy and knowing that we’re moving into a realm where you have increasing need for healthcare consumerism, to be competitive, you have value-based contracts moving more in and you still need to maintain a fee for service for those existing contracts and services as well. Just given the environment that we’re shifting into, what’s at stake for organizations that either ignore personalization or end up not doing it well?

Chris Bevolo:
Yeah. I think you mentioned Amazon a second ago and I think to me and I use this analogy all the time, it helps set up what’s at stake, because everybody points to Amazon, and there’s other examples later especially when we talk about blockers to this because Amazon does personalization as well as anybody in terms of your experience when you shop there. And Sarah laid out all the different places that we can access data, which ties back to what John brought in terms of the clinical data that maybe is going to be more informed thanks to Anthem working through Epic.
The problem is that’s locked up in Epic. The problem is part of what Sarah talked about maybe the most valuable data we have, PHI, is very difficult for us to leverage, especially unified with all the other data sources. It is the equivalent of Amazon trying to deliver the level of personalization they do now without using a customer’s own order history and financial history, blind to that. We are as health systems in some ways having to operate that way until we can figure out how to add quickly and appropriately leveraged PHI.
While I think what’s happening with Anthem and Epic should help clinically to the degree to which it’s going to help personalize is going to be stunted until we can figure that out. And that’s, what’s at stake maybe more than anything because we as consumers are experiencing personalization and all the other aspects of our lives. The example I have later that I’ll go through is Delta but you can use Amazon. I’ll also bring up Trunk Club, one of my favorites. And because those industries don’t have the restrictions and regulations that we have to deal with in terms of HIPAA, in terms of PHI, all of that, we are going to have to figure out how do we keep up with the Joneses because our consumers are going to demand the benefits of personalization and we’re going to struggle to get there.
And even within our industry if you’re a legacy health system you’re in the same boat with your other legacy peers. But we know the new entrants coming in they’re cherry-picking the sweet spots of our industry, so CVS or Walmart Health, or Optum, they’re at the top of the funnel. They’re not having to get into the acuity that our health systems have to get into. They’re masters at understanding and leveraging consumer data. Even if you feel like, well, I don’t have to compete with Delta and I don’t have to compete with Wells Fargo so I don’t have to worry about personalization, you do.
Because these folks are coming in and they’re going to leverage it, maybe not through the whole continuum but they’re going to learn how to leverage it even at the surface top level in a way that could cost you your relationship with a patient, where somebody else comes in and owns that relationship and you just become a downstream option for surgery someday. And so I think those are the implications if we do not figure this out.

Sarah Coles:
Yeah. And I’m going to just go back to my answer before in terms of we’re starting with a pool of healthcare data. And that’s something, it’s a gold mine for our healthcare systems. But what really makes it valuable is layering on that additional data that starts to build a profile about really who each individual is engaging in content, what content are they engaging in? What do they want to hear more about? What have they opted into? I think that the healthcare data piece is a really solid place to start but some of the retail health system is layering in so much additional data that they have on consumers and that’s what’s making their systems really powerful.
Because they do have information about how people are engaging in their web content, how people are engaging in their email content, people are purchasing at their stores and they’re bringing all of that together. Not to say that you can obviously have to walk before you can run, but starting to look for opportunities where you can provide opportunities to opt in, give people opportunities to elect to stay informed about topics, track how people are engaging in content, what people are clicking on, all of this is going to add up to really interesting consumer profiles and personas that will help you segment and identify opportunities across patient groups.

Chris Hemphill:
Another thing, Sarah, you harped on opt-in, again, to the idea of, hey, what’s the experience that we even offered to people that are raising their hands and telling us we didn’t have to make a prediction? They told us that they were interested. Well, another thought there is that that’s the folks that you don’t want to go dark on, you want to have communication with them. What we saw last year during the biggest health crisis that we’ve ever faced as a nation, a result of that was we saw email open rates spike up to 50%. We saw massive increases in web traffic to our healthcare providers. That was indicative of the fact that people were desperate for information on what they needed to do to manage their care and their happiness and wellbeing.
So another idea on what’s at stake is the wellbeing of those people. If we’re not communicating with them, if we’re not seeing sending them relevant communications, then they’re likely going to go to the source that is, and as Chris brought up, there’s a massive contingent of organizations that are targeting that sweet spot.

Sarah Coles:
Yeah. And I just want to add one more thing because we talked too a little bit about the possibility that patients will go elsewhere if healthcare systems don’t do this. I think the other thing to consider too, is don’t be overly aggressive with personalization if you don’t feel confident in the data because if you send people something that is not relevant to them or completely off-base, then you’re going to run the risk of they’re just going to unsubscribe, they’re going to completely turn off communications from you all together and then you don’t have the opportunity to communicate with them in the future.
My advice is always to start small and let the data build and inform you for the next step. And I do like to use things like opt-ins and engagement scores and real data that shows how people are engaging in the content and what they want to hear more about as predictors because that’s going to really drive with confidence what kind of content people want to receive. My word of advice is when you’re starting start with very broad data points and then start to work in from there to avoid any kind of misfires in personalization.

Chris Bevolo:
It’s such a great example of the struggle we have. If you’re Delta and you need to sell more Minneapolis to Pittsburgh routes where do you start? You start with your own customers that you know and understand and you target them first because you know more about them than in anything you can find on the outside. In healthcare if we want to promote, I don’t know, colonoscopies, we have to, because we want men aged 50 to get their colonoscopy, we carve out our patients because we’re afraid we’re going to trip over HIPAA, we’re afraid we’re going to send, “Don’t forget your colonoscopy,” to our own patient who just went through colorectal cancer.
Because what Sarah is talking about, the fear of holy crap, we just sent a postcard to somebody who we just treated for colorectal cancer, that is not a good thing. You want to show up as the opposite of personalized, completely clueless, that’s the way to do it. So a lot of health systems carve out understandably their own patient set because of that fear and until we can figure that out we’re always going to be, I think, up against it.

Chris Hemphill:
Thank you for that. And, Sarah, while you were talking it connected the dots to another part of the thinking here. Because there are areas where communications can go wrong such as the one that Chris just mentioned. There are all kinds of challenges and I could give a lecture on how to evaluate like the accuracy of various approaches. We’re not going to jump into that here, but what I wanted to get into a little bit was where to draw the line because there could be, what if somebody promises that, hey, we can identify all the people that are going to likely need a cardio consult but it’s imprecise.
Or, what if we send communications that are off-putting to people because it feels like minority report or big brother because of the nature of the communications they cut it of?. So there’s an element here, hey, we can make the prediction but what do we do with that? Chris, I want to throw at you, how do you keep away from the line that we get asked about a lot, is how do you keep away from that creepy line?

Chris Bevolo:
I hope Sarah has a better answer than mine because when you gave me the question, I’m like all right, this reminds me of the Supreme Court Justice and I have his name here, Potter Stewart. Back in the ’70s in a very famous case about trying to define obscenity his answer was, “I know it when I see it.” Which is one of the most famous Supreme Court quotes and also I think one of the biggest fails. I mean, you can’t. Legally, can you really have that be your answer, I know it when I see it? Well, what about when she sees it? She’s going to have a different interpretation.
But honestly in some ways you have to think that. And I think just to cut to the chase when we have our own experiences, we’re all familiar with retargeting, we’re all familiar with… Wait a second, I just asked my wife about do we need a patio set and now there’s an ad for a new patio set. Who heard that? The question I think should always be asked, how did you know that? If I question how you, whoever is carrying this message knew that, I might have crossed the line.
If it’s not clear to me like, oh, of course, I’ve been searching online for patio sets and so I see ads, I know that’s how the world works, that’s fine. If I’ve done nothing but talk to my wife about it, how did you know that? You’ve crossed the line, whatever, Alexa or whoever. What’s the movie on Netflix? The Great Hack? If you haven’t seen that it starts off with the conversation and the guy says, “You think people are listening and that’s how they target you?” No, they just know so much about you. They know exactly that Chris you are at the exact point where you want a patio set.
They didn’t hear a thing, they just know a lot about you. But to your point, Chris, there’s a line and it shifts and depends on whoever you’re talking to. But I think that’s the marker to use of look, if I’m confused or concerned or creeped out because I don’t know where you got the information to give that to me, then whoever that is has crossed the line. That’s the best I got. Sarah, I hope you have something better.

Sarah Coles:
Well, I’m going to go back to my point about let the person tell you what they want. I think providing opportunities for someone to click on topics, maybe take a health risk assessment, fill out a form where they can opt in just to stay in formed about certain topics, all of these key indicators will help inform those data points that say this person might be ready for this at this time. One of the things that we do a lot of is we help our customers build out patient newsletters. And these are usually sent once a month with dynamic content, so the content changes depending on who the recipient, although I would never really know that mine is different than Chris’s but it feels more relevant to me.
And as we’re tracking and engaging what people are clicking on, we’re learning about who that person is as an individual, what they’re interested in, what topics they might want to learn more about next. If I’m clicking on articles about heart disease over a period of time then maybe I’m going to get served up a heart risk assessment in my next newsletter. And that’s all based on the fact that I’ve shown that this is a topic I’m interested in. So I think that finding opportunities to serve up the content in a subtle way, let the person express the interest and then maybe come back with a harder call to action is leading somebody down that path of engagement so that every step of the way they’re telling you more about what they want and you’re responding with something that meets their needs.

Chris Hemphill:
Yeah, that outlines a step-by-step approach so that the audience can think through how to structure like a personalized campaign and already have that relationship established where there’s communication constantly coming out anyway and you’re just making that content more relevant without being blatant or hard about the call to action unless there’s been a hand raised. Makes a lot of sense.

Chris Bevolo:
Yeah. I’m going to call up my colleague, Chase, who earlier posted something which is super relevant here. I think, Sarah, what you’re describing is not necessarily soliciting preference, it’s just organic preference that’s demonstrated through activity. We should also solicit preference as long as we’re equipped to house it and act on it because there’s nothing worse than asking somebody their preference and then it doesn’t show up in the experience they have. And that’s a huge struggle I think too with health systems and what they’re able to do and the restrictions they have. But there’s a lot of opportunity there, we just have to be really careful about how we go about it.

Chris Hemphill:
And, yeah, if you have an audience that is expecting a personalized experience then they get asked things that could personalize their experience and then that doesn’t materialize, you just lost all your geriatric, really.

Sarah Coles:
Well, you don’t ask them direct to follow through on what people… They want. So, yeah, I agree.

Chris Hemphill:
So a big word, a big shout out appreciation. I’m so glad that folks are sticking on with us. We’re a little bit past that 30 minute mark but there’s a couple of topics we thought would be helpful which we’ll be getting into. I feel a lot of people who are watching this might be involved in personalization efforts or might have tried at their organizations and not been able to get the necessary support. Chris, I wanted to throw it at you and, Sarah, I’m sure you have some good answers as well. But blockers that you’ve seen to personalization efforts at health systems, what are some blockers you’ve seen and how have you seen people work around them?

Chris Bevolo:
Well, I kind of already gave away the ghost. To me the biggest blocker is the ability to leverage the most valuable information we have which is PHI, patient information. We know more as health systems about the people that have come in than typically can find anywhere else, it’s just gold. But it’s rightly a huge blocker in how we’re going to leverage that. There’s regulation in place, there’s ethical issues in place, but again it goes back to the way Sarah categorize it. We think of there’s third-party data, consumer data that’s out there, there’s PHI, and there’s what we would call first-party marketing data or engagement data.
What can we learn from somebody who comes in who takes an HRA, who signs up for our newsletter, whatever, it may not be PHI but we can leverage that. Again, I think about Delta has the same thing. Delta has my customer information, they have third-party consumer information about me, and then they have how I interact with their marketing. They’re able to leverage all of that. We’re missing that big piece in the middle and that is a huge blocker and it’s the holy grail of figuring this out. And you think about things like the Epic partnership with the insurance company, that that’s like a step in that direction, but it’s going to be so limited in how we can leverage that because it’s still going to be contained within that clinical setting, and we all think about this outside of that clinical setting.
I think that’s the biggest blocker of all. And then you also put on here, Chris, real hesitancy within healthcare, not from marketer or appliance officers, from IT folks, from legal. We have had clients that say, “We can’t use email marketing. We’re not allowed to use email marketing.” Because they were scared of HIPAA or they’re so scared of the spam laws and all of that. And honestly, there’s a lot we can do with email marketing, but if there’s a lawyer in your organization and they’re just like, “Nope. Nope, not going to happen,” it’s really hard to get through that. So it’s also educating people who have the power to say no about not only the benefit from a competitive standpoint but also just from a consumer experience standpoint.

Chris Hemphill:
And, Sarah, your thoughts on that too.

Sarah Coles:
Yeah. I like the airline example that you gave, Chris. And I think that providing people with opportunities to respond to offers, so to speak, if we’re going to think about it from a consumer marketing perspective. If your airline is sending you an email with three different specials and you’re clicking on the New York to San Francisco and we now know that you’re interested in flying to San Francisco and we’re going to send you a more information about flights related to that route, that is very similar to sending a patient a newsletter or a communication channel with information they might be interested in about related to their health and depending on what they click on now we know that they’re interested in one thing or another.
I think using those subtle ways to send out what are seemingly generic offers or generic information and allow people to tell us what they want to hear more about helps ease some of that concern around are we sending people information based on the data that we know? Well, yes, we’re starting there but we’re not making it feel to the recipient like it’s creepy or anything. We’re just giving them health tips or information that would be valuable to them and then they’re telling us back, “Yes, I want to hear more about this, this, and this.” So it’s a little bit of a give and take versus a creepy, we know that you’re overdue for this, or, we know that you need that.

Chris Bevolo:
I mean, that’s a really great point because again going back to Delta who, I’m a big fan boy of Delta, I fly so much… I used to fly a lot before, the last year and a half. But there are probably a dozen aspects of my experience with Delta that are personalized that I may not even recognize. Writ large I recognize, wow, they really know me, I have a good experience with them but they are sending me offers that are undoubtedly based on my status on where I fly, on the information they have about my income and my preferences. They’re offering me a first-class seat that is $147.50. Sarah might get it for $300 because they know, hey, I’m a little more valuable because I fly more or vice versa. Sarah, I don’t mean to pick on you.
That is 100% personalized to me, but it’s not where I feel like, wow, that’s creepy. Why are you telling me? If I sat down with the other people who got that offer and we compared our notes it might feel creepy but in the moment, in all of those moments, I just feel for whatever reason I’m getting a great experience with them. It feels like it’s right for me. I may not even recognize it as personalized to me. And that’s okay, in fact, that’s maybe even better.

Sarah Coles:
I agree. I think personalization is done best if you don’t even know as the recipient that it’s personalized to you.

Chris Hemphill:
I’m going to throw out another… I’ll do it quickly but I’m going to throw out another one too, is that if we’re arguing for getting the resources together to make personalization available and then operationalizing it to where, hey, we send out this email campaign that is very personalized but then people pick up the phone and have delayed experiences and can’t get slots. There does have to be some work to get buy-in with service line leadership and operational leadership and often I think that there’s a breakdown where if they don’t understand how a particular system works, like if we’re saying that these are the people that we’ve identified that need this particular service and are going to have this kind of communication, whether it needs to be a justification around that.
It’s like the flip side, Chris, that you brought up around, well, tell me how you knew. Well, you need that backing from operations and services too, so I think it becomes a transparency issue. If there’s some algorithm or some approach that’s been identified then there has to be a communication where there’s no secret sauce behind it. There’s an explanation on how that worked and how well it performs and a confidence that, hey, we reach out to these people. Those are the people that should be getting those communications, they’re an assurance there with accuracy.

Chris Bevolo:
Yeah. There’s so many, understandably as soon as you got to walk before you can run, but so many examples of disjointed approaches to personalization that fall apart. You do some great segmenting, you target people with a health risk assessment for joint pain, you get 1000 people to take it. You get 100 of them who demonstrate the need to actually see a surgeon. They’re at a place, they need to see a surgeon. That’s the output of the HRA and it says, “Hey, you should really talk to a surgeon based on what you’ve told us. Here’s the name, here’s the information, here’s…” Whatever. And then they call and the person in there is like, “I don’t know what you’re talking about. How did you get this surgeon’s name and what do you mean you were told you need surgery?” And they’re not even aware of the experience that has been catered to this person and then they just fall off a cliff.
And in some ways you’re worse off because you’ve set up this expectation and now they’ve just run into this horrible experience where clearly they don’t know me at all. “You’re the one who send me this, you’re the one gave me this advice, and now I’m talking to you and you don’t know me at all.” Because that’s how consumers think about it. As in fairness that may seem, if you’re XYZ health brand that is one entity and you all talk to each other, you all know what’s going on with me. If I talk to this person over there then of course that person over here should understand that conversation. We know it’s way more complicated than that but that’s where some of the brands historically like Mayo Clinic have always risen above because they’ve figured that part of personalization or not, but you got to have that, Chris, to your point.

Chris Hemphill:
Chris, I’m going to tell you, you have found the perfect way to wrap up the conversation because you just used the title of the webinar which you said, You Don’t Know Me, so…

Chris Bevolo:
You don’t know me.

Chris Hemphill:
You don’t know me. That gives us a good point to get to… You’ve written a lot of books on these topics and have had a lot of communications. And you’re spending time with us today and sharing with a live audience and we were just hoping to know your final thoughts, your why in coming to this and anything that you’d like for people to just… What you’re hoping people would lead this conversation.

Chris Bevolo:
Well, to me this is the future, this is the future of what we do. It doesn’t mean things like brand are going away and all things, but the leveraging of data in an inappropriate way to deliver more and more personalized experiences and clinical offerings, that’s where we’re headed, that is the future. And it is complicated, there’s a lot of challenges as talked about, and I certainly don’t have all the answers, that is for certain. I just know that it is essential for our thriving but also surviving, I think as health systems.
Whenever I get my hands on something like this, you guys, I love talking about it. I want to dig in with people, I want to know where they’re at. I love conversations like this and we haven’t been able to have enough of these over the last year in-person. So, yeah, anytime I get online with folks and dig in especially like you guys who know what you’re talking about, it’s just so essential, this is so essential. I mean, the last book I wrote was in 2018 and I said, “If there’s one thing you take away and learn and master is data-driven marketing.” And this is the ultimate outcome of that personalized marketing.

Chris Hemphill:
Thank you. And Sarah, you as well. I mean, you’ve been working at this burning the midnight oil sometimes and making this happen for a ton of organizations. What would you say is your why in doing this?

Sarah Coles:
I think the why is to ultimately make the patient experience better for people who need health services. I think often people think about their healthcare provider and you don’t really feel really good about it, the experience doesn’t feel really great. And so I think if we can get to a point where people feel good and excited, I feel my healthcare system knows me, I feel I have a dynamic with my provider or the organization, where they just feel more like an individual, really.
And I think we’ll do that through data. As I mentioned before, use data as a starting point but ultimately let the recipient or the patients guide the journey. As much as you’re sending content and what I call offers and opportunities, let them tell you what they want to hear more about, let their engagement guide future channels and content and make it really a two-way flow so that it’s not just that healthcare data that’s dictating the experience but every data point around it as well.

Chris Hemphill:
And I guess I’ll throw mine in too, is that I was just having a conversation with our manager of analytics yesterday about this, but medical technologies, technologies available to deliver care and what we’ve learned from evidence-based approaches and things like that, those are continuously getting better in helping to deliver better outcomes. But if we’re still missing out on the conversations that lead to people identifying those needs and we’re missing out on large swaths of communications with people who need those specific services, then we’re missing out on the matching game that gets the people who have these needs to the services that are appropriate for them.
I feel we need to do away with the concept of mass marketing, and I don’t even consider myself a segment, we’re all individuals. If we can get to a point where we’re matching the right services and right approaches with individuals then hopefully you can help drive better outcomes and improve people’s healthcare and the decisions they’re making. With that we’ll go ahead and conclude here. We’ll let you get back to the weekend, everybody is yearning to get back to meetings and work and dashboards and things like that so I’m not going to stand between you and your dashboards.

Sarah Coles:
Thanks, Chris.

Chris Hemphill:
Next week we’re going to have a… Well, this is Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month going all the way till May 31. We have gotten a group of people who are AAPI and we’ll be talking about their own experience within healthcare from a career perspective. So we wanted to just put this panel out so that people in the AAPI community can just have a conversation with these leaders. We’ve got Ben Chao from MultiCare, Sheetal Shah, who was previously our COO, now CCO Invoy, and also our Head of Product, Priscilla McCloskey. It’ll just be a conversation on career issues and discrimination faced by AAPI and people in the AAPI communities and just the opportunity to have a conversation with them. But, thank you. Again, everybody thank you for hopping on with us and I’ll let you enjoy your week and hope you have a great weekend.

Sarah Coles:
Thank you. Bye.

Chris Bevolo:
Thanks everybody.
 
 

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