Posts Tagged ‘hospitals


Top Ten Things We Learned at SHSMD 2012

Attendees of SHSMD2012 are back at their home locations plotting a return to Chicago in 2013, attempting to sync their Poken and wondering if they missed anything from Saturday morning’s keynote, Thomas Goetz (he only spoke to about 20% of the audience Ari Fleisher had on Thursday). While everyone will have their personal take-aways, Tracy Weise, Jay Weise and I developed a top ten list of things we learned in Philadelphia.

1. Hospitals and all medical facilities are overturning every rock for ideas, actionable plans to reduce readmission rates. The most effective tactic so far is educating the family of a patient and allowing the pressure of a loved one to encourage post-hospital stay behavior.

2. Awesome description of the difference between the nuance of healthcare system and service line marketing: The healthcare system branding creates a promise, the service line marketing delivers on the promise created.

3. The overwhelming majority of attendees were unconcerned about outcome of Presidential election as it relates to healthcare reform. Some things are in place and will stay in place; other things will change regardless of who wins.

4. Acceptance of the “must do” strategies in the American Hospital Association report:

    • Increase Hospital-Physician alignment
    • Improve the quality of patient safety
    • Make advancements in hospital efficiency
    • Develop an integrated information system

5. In a session that included an interactive questionnaire, Lack of strategy, lack of time and lack of staff were the biggest reasons offered for not implementing a robust social media plan. However, an argument can be made that there is still a lack of knowledge about social media in the healthcare marketing community.

    • Only 1.1% of the 1,300 SHSMD2012 attendees checked into the SHSMD 2012 Conference using the location based social media platform foursquare
    • Only 6.2% of the attendees tweeted using the hashtag ‘#SHSMD12

This begs the question, why are healthcare marketing experts reluctant to embrace an important ‘patient experience’ tool?

6. Web 2.0 and social media are working for patient acquisition: There were two case studies, Mayo Clinic and Cincinnati Children’s Hospital with tangible results and the programs were replicable.

7. It is massively important to incorporate a disciplined planning approach to service lines prior to budget season, otherwise you’ll budget before you plan and back into the programs you can afford. At the same time you must engage physicians in the planning process and they must see action otherwise you’ll never get buy-in in future years.

8. Nobody really knows what the ACO landscape will look like, if any so called expert tells you otherwise, they don’t know what they are talking about. They may fool you, but don’t let them make a fool out of you.

9. The quantitative data to effectively manage your medical facility is available, be sure to incorporate qualitative data from physicians to complete the story.  Be sure to deep dive into data analysis if the results are contrary to the generally held opinions of hospital leadership, otherwise you have an uphill battle trying to change minds.

10. Best Quotes from SHSMD2012 – if you said any of these, you know who you are:

    • Overheard at the end of concurrent sessions on day 1: “I am ready to nap dangerously.”
    • In a session when the presenter was making a transition from social media to anal reconstruction surgery, “Before we dive into bowel movements…”
    • In a session responding to a question about strategies, objectives and tactics: “People have a harder time with strategies because they are squishy.”
    • In the exhibit hall, “Hospitals are concerned about patient tracking after they leave the hospital, but why has the term out migration been replaced with leakage.”

Want to find out more about what we learned at SHSMD 2012? Give us a call. Want to add to this list, share your thoughts here or on Facebook at Weise Communications and follow us on Twitter at @Weise_Ideas.


Top Ten Things We Learned at SHSMD2011

Attendees of SHSMD2011 are all dealing with re-entry work, attempting to sync their Poken and evaluating to-do lists based on the SHSMD conference. While everyone will have their personal take-aways, Jay Weise and I developed a top ten list of things we heard and learned in Phoenix.

1. The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act includes provisions about IRS oversight of requirements that nonprofit healthcare providers must meet in order to maintain their tax-exempt status. Nonprofit organizations are seeking assistance to track community benefit programs and keep it in a format approved by the IRS. This is an opportunity for the right company.

2. HCAHPS (Hospital Consumer Assessment of Healthcare Providers and Systems) is a national survey that asks patients about their experiences during a recent hospital stay.  When will the general public adopt HCAHPS as criteria they use to select a hospital? Unfortunately, there is a lot of focus by hospital administration on these scores, but no evidence that a patient is using it in the hospital selection process.

3. The new buzzword, ‘Patient Experience’ Not patient-centered, not patient-centric, not patient-focused…Patient Experience.  This is intended to represent the totality of the interactions and perceptions of interactions between the patient and the health care facility. Patients with a more favorable experience are more likely to adhere to treatment protocol, have a positive outcome and provide favorable recommendations to others.

4. A big question from the conference: is government mandated health care constitutional? When will a ruling that provides certainty occur? How much legislative change will occur to the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act prior to the large provisions taking effect in 2014?

5. From Michael Sachs’ keynote presentation on Friday, Constitutionality ruling on healthcare reform will not affect the macro trends in the healthcare industry.

6. Hospitals are waiting for someone to figure out a strategy for Accredited Care Organizations (ACO’s) before they adopt it. Right now there is too much uncertainty and confusion. ACO’s are too far away from current Key Performance Indicators.

7. From Jeff Bauer’s keynote presentation on Saturday, “By 2020, there will be more people living in the United States under 18 that were born outside the U.S. than were born inside the U.S.” The impact on medical treatments will be far-reaching. For example, men of Korean descent do not have the genetic enzyme to process the anti-depression drug, serotonin. How will this effect care, drug protocols, pharmaceutical company focus and online information?

8. Marketing strategist in healthcare organizations are the only people in the organization that can bring the customers point of view to strategy. Hospital Administrators are counting on the marketing strategist voice. Marketers need to speak up.

9. Healthcare marketers must consider the system of care is not inside the hospital walls, it is outside of it. Healthcare marketing strategists must take the leadership position and consider all entry points including: the website, community events, referral lines, physician offices, etc.

10. Integration across multiple platforms of data and across functional areas within a medical facility must occur to provide value to patients. The cost-efficiencies will be mandated in health care reform and are essential in a competitive environment.

Maybe we should have called this a top fourteen list because we have to include some of our favorite quotes:

“Patients fear rude doctors and nurses more than death.” – Colleen Sweeney, Director of Innovation, Ambassador, and Customer Services,
Memorial Health System, South Bend, IN

“HIPAA is the mullet of patient safety, your data is not as protected as you think.” – David McDonald, CEO, True North Custom Media, Chattanooga, TN

“Be realistic when setting Facebook goals for any hospital. Who really wants to LIKE a hospital?” – Dean Browell, Executive Vice President, Feedback, Richmond, VA

“The FDA has rejected many new cancer drugs because they were tested on the wrong kinds of cancer.” – Jeffrey C. (Jeff) Bauer, Ph.D. Health Futurist and Medical Economist, Chicago, IL

Want to find out more about what we learned at SHSMD 2011? Give us a call. Want to add to this list, share your thoughts here or on Facebook at Weise Communications and follow us on Twitter at @Weise_Ideas.


You Want to Put Your Mouth On My What? Communication Principles in Practice at Your Hospital.

At the Side Note Blog we can’t really let a nipple sucking doctor get by without comment, now can we?

The story is rather offensive. A 20-year-old woman went to the doctor for a breast exam because of fluid seeping from her breast. The male doctor decided to “diagnose” the fluid seepage by obtaining permission to suck  her breast. Yes, he sucked on her breast. Unfortunately the Finnish court let the doctor off of sexual solicitation charges brought by the patient because the doctor  asked and obtained permission from the patient to suck on her breast.

Are you kidding me?

What was the patient supposed to say?

I am sure her “permission” sounded something like “uh… uh huh?”

I never went to medical school, but even I can come up with numerous ways of extracting a bodily fluid for testing that does not include anything unhygienic or overtly sexual.

I think it’s time to send med students and physicians back to school for additional communication courses. We are taught from a very young age to trust physicians. To do what they tell us to do. When they prescribe a medicine, we take it. When they order a test, we get it. A 20-year-old women worried about her health, seeking the advice of a physician, probably didn’t know HOW to respond to the physician’s offensive request.

I have had the pleasure to work with many wonderful physicians over the years. They all know that they leverage power over their patients. The good ones don’t abuse that power. The good physicians embrace this power and use it to inspire hope, increase confidence and decrease fear.

What are your physicians saying to their patients? How does their power of persuasion impact the healthcare provided by your institution? And what communication training do you use to ensure there is no offensive behavior at your organization? Tell us your stories here.


The All Too Often Forgotten Marketing Rule

The All Too Often Forgotten Marketing Rule: Don’t Forget What Makes Your Hospital Different

Here on The Side Note Blog we write a lot about how and why to implement certain aspects of marketing, advertising and public relations campaigns. We have covered SEO, mobile marketing, social media, outdoor advertising, TV advertising, branding, crisis communication and so on. It should not be forgotten however, that all of your marketing and advertising should never lose focus on what makes your hospital unique. What is the one thing that your hospital can hang its hat on? Is it quality product, service, price, convenience, atmosphere or location? Never lose focus on the one thing that makes your hospital – the reason patients will change doctors to have treatment at your facility. This reason needs to remain a fundamental part of your marketing message.

Take for example a full-service hospital known and recognized by the community for its excellent oncology services that is focused on growing the orthopedic service line. This hospital should write messaging targeted at getting people to remember that a hospital with great oncology services most likely has other world-class services as well – in this case orthopedics. Anchor yourself to your key differentiator whenever possible.

Maybe the thing that you can ride on is your location. Consider a fundamental focus on outdoor and radio advertising and put directional information on every billboard and in every radio ad. Regardless of what the overall message is, never run an ad without information on where the hospital is located.

Maybe the very best thing that your hospital offers is the quality of nursing care. Focus on this. Nurses spend more time with patients that physicians do, so talk about the care of nursing in all areas of your hospital. Use your nurses in your campaigns. Talk about the difference they make every day.

Regardless of the goals of individual campaigns, try to include your distinguishing component. Don’t ever let your audience forget what makes your hospital different from your competitors.


7 Tips on How Health Care Companies Can Connect with Women Through Social Media

Women are often the caretakers in households. They usually decide when kids and husbands need to go see the doctor.  They decide what cough and cold medicine to take or what remedy will cure that ouchy. Women are increasingly important for health care communicators to get on their side and have them become brand-ambassadors for the company.

So, how do you get their attention? Through social media. Women have firmly established their presence in social media, and account for the majority of users on many popular sites, like Facebook and Twitter. Companies looking to reach women — whether as consumers, entrepreneurs, employees, or advocates — have an unprecedented opportunity to engage them through social media.

But how do you connect with these women? Use these helpful tips:

  1. Formulate a social media strategy to reach women, including new moms
    Start by researching the specific type of woman you are trying to reach where this demographic is specific to social media. Next, develop an outreach plan and messaging.
  2. Develop messages that speak to your target audience
    You should prepare messaging about the company, its goals and purpose as well as specific messages on each of your products, services and audiences. Test messages with groups of women to ensure effectiveness.
  3. Find online communities for women, or start one at your company
    Communities within existing social media, like Facebook groups, are a great place to talk to women and mothers. Also, consider starting a social media space all your own. Invite customers to talk to one another and build a community around your company.
  4. Start a Twitter feed geared to women
    Twitter is a great way to share content about your company and a great space to monitor conversations happening in areas of interest.
  5. Converse with mommy bloggers, work to understand their needs
    Mommy bloggers are out there talking about every conceivable health care topic. Just check out Locate the ones in your area and work to understand how they feel about your area of health care. Address their needs and then tell them how you help solve their issues.
  6. Publicize your hospital’s women-oriented events via social media
    Many social media tools allow publicizing of events. Load your events in the social media sites you participate in and invite women to attend.
  7. Integrate offline strategies to expand your social network for women
    Making sure the people you are reaching out to online know about your off-line efforts and invite women at off-line events to join you online. This will increase the value of your marketing dollars.

Using these strategies will help your health care company connect with a key demographic in an energetic and exciting space. It will help you demonstrate your company’s benefits and help you build relationships with women in social media.

Other resources worth reading:

10 Musts for Marketing to Women on Facebook
HOW TO: Attract and Engage Social Media Moms
Reaching Women via Social Media


Healthcare Marketing: Social Media in Practice at One Community-Based Hospital

North Suburban Medical Center, located just north of Denver, is a community-based acute care hospital. At its helm is CEO Jennifer Alderfer. A small minority of hospitals are choosing to engage in social media. While other industries are learning to push and extend boundaries of online communications, many hospitals are frozen out of participation by either fear or lack of knowledge. North Suburban Medical Center is taking a conservative, yet forward moving approach to engaging audiences in social platforms.

I had the opportunity to speak with Jennifer about the hospital’s social media programs. Below are her responses. If you have additional questions for Jennifer, please post them here.

Question: How have the marketing initiatives at North Suburban changed in the last 18 months?
Answer: We have seen a shift in the need to engage in social media.  For example, we developed of a facility Facebook page to enhance recruitment efforts and to help promote and celebrate our upcoming 25-year anniversary.  Additionally, we’ve revamped our external website, making it more interactive, to engage the public surfing the web.  We also added highlights of our major service lines to the website.  

Q: How have your public relations initiatives changed in the last 18 months?
A: From the PR standpoint, we began to receive and respond to patient and customer feedback from online submissions on the website.  Online submissions have increased slightly in the past 18 months. This has enhanced our connection with the community.

Q: What are your corporate goals with social media?
A: I attended a seminar “Best Practices for Applying Social Media to Healthcare” at the American College of Healthcare Executives 2010 Congress held in Chicago in March. At the seminar I learned that according to the American Hospital Association, only 297 out of 4,987 hospitals (or 5.95 percent) are engaging in social media. I believe at North Suburban we can use social media to effectively connect with our community audience in a meaningful way. I know that we should be somewhat proactive within the social media realm, understanding that conversations about my facility will take place without me initiating them or even participating in them! Social media will provide us with the venue to be included in conversations we may have missed if we shut out social media from our communications network.

Q: What is your current opinion of social media and its ability to drive business opportunities?
A: I feel that social media is not a fad but rather a fundamental shift in the way we communicate. As an organization, we can’t be everywhere (an active participant on every social media outlet). Clearly we must be somewhere and we must select a few social media networks that work for us.  I do believe in the ability of social media outlets to drive business for certain services, especially for elective procedures.

Q: What social media outlets is North Suburban actively using?
A: North Suburban has a Facebook page and a YouTube channel which is linked from the website to post videos of employee testimonials. As part of the larger HealthONE organizations we have a Twitter account, but we don’t have a Twitter account specifically for the hospital. We tried to establish a blog internally but it had limited response and interest from the employees. iTriage is an Apple iPhone application the facility is using as well.

Q: Who is responsible for implementing your hospital social media programs?
A: Our hospital-based social media programs are managed by our director of marketing and public relations.  As a health care system within HealthONE, the public relations / community relations strategist manages the HealthONE social media programs.

I appreciate Jennifer’s insight into what North Suburban Medical Center is doing with social media. What is your hospital doing? Is your hospital in the minority of those participating in social media? If not, what is holding the institution back?

About Jennifer Alderfer

Jennifer Alderfer is the president and chief executive officer at North Suburban Medical Center and has been with HCA/HealthONE since 2000.  In April 2010, HCA/HealthONE promoted Alderfer from the North Suburban Medical Center chief operating officer role, a leadership position she held since 2006.

Prior positions include associate administrator and chief operating officer of HealthONE’s The Medical Center of Aurora North Campus, as well as administrative fellow and associate administrator at HCA’s Wesley Medical Center in Wichita, Kan.

Active in the community, Jennifer is a member of the Board of Directors of the Metro North Chamber of Commerce, Mapleton Education Foundation and Colorado Health Administration Alumni Association.

Jennifer is board certified in Healthcare Administration and is a fellow with the American College of Healthcare Executives.  She earned her Master of Health Administration and Master of Business Administration degrees at the University of Colorado – Denver.

She is married, the mother of two daughters and a son, and enjoys camping, fishing, hiking, and motorcycle riding with her family.


The American Cancer Society wants you to “Choose You”

The American Cancer Society launched the “Choose You” initiative this week to encourage women to take care of themselves and get proper cancer screenings. The national campaign involves a microsite, televisions actress spokesperson, two national sponsors (with advertising and marketing of their own), a national advertising campaign, and campaign–centered day.  We’ll take a look at the integrated health care campaign and review the tactics it uses.

The sobering facts, according to the American Cancer Society, is that one in three women will get cancer in her lifetime, and about half of all cancer deaths could be prevented if people maintained a healthy weight through diet and regular exercise; avoided tobacco products; and got recommended cancer screening tests. Unfortunately, it’s not always easy to incorporate these healthy behaviors into a busy lifestyle.

Using actress Ellen Pompeo, from Grey’s Anatomy, as their spokesperson, the American Cancer Society held a large kickoff event in Times Square. They are encouraging women to sign a Choose You Commitment, an online pledge to reach a specific, individual health goal. Participants give a minimum five dollar pledge once they sign a Choose You Commitment to incentivize them to stay on track. They can also ask friends and family to support them.

Choose You participants and visitors to, the campaign’s microsite, have access to online support and tools such as a calorie calculator, virtual dietitian, nutrition and activity quiz, smoking cost calculator, prevention and early detection videos, and a desktop helper with daily health tips.

National sponsor Sprite Zero will launch new advertising to raise awareness of the Choose You initiative. The new digital and billboard ads will appear across the country starting in May and will feature the tagline, “The Choice Is Clear,” with information on the brand’s zero sugar and no caffeine benefits. Sprite Zero is also supporting the Choose You launch through product sampling and couponing.

National sponsor Walgreens, through its stores nationwide, will be offering discounts on products to help women live well and put their health first. Additionally, throughout the month of May, Walgreens customers will have the opportunity to support Choose You with a “scannable” donation at checkout.

On May 12, large employers around the country participated in Choose You Day, and encouraged their employees to pledge a five dollar donation to the lifesaving work of the American Cancer Society. The employees were also encouraged to take 30 minutes during the workday to focus on their own personal health. Employees could choose to take a walk, attend a yoga class or participate in a program provided by employers.

This campaign has lofty goals, and a great deal of marketing, public relations and advertising to back it up. The integration of advertising and marketing here is brilliant. Using advertisers to support your cause and spread your message is both cost-effective and a smart tactical move. However, the messaging for Sprite Zero will be interesting to review as they try to spread a healthy message yet not ‘dis’ their staple brand, Coke; a difficult, but accomplishable goal.

Overall the campaign’s use of a microsite, pledge and multi-faceted approach to educate women is smart and will hopefully be effective in making American women take action in regards to their own health.

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