Digital’s effect on healthcare marketing

April 15, 2015
Stephanie Burton Director, Healthcare Marketing

It seems that all the forward-thinking, healthcare marketing professionals are concentrated in Las Vegas this week.

In exchange for not hitting the jackpot on the slots, I’ll consider myself lucky to have learned from the great minds at the Healthcare Marketing and Physician Strategies Summit.

In addition to taking home a couple of extra pounds, I’ll also be taking home these key messages:

“Digital” is no longer a thought; it’s completely changing the way we’re doing business.

This is so refreshing. Just a couple short years ago, I was alarmed that health systems were still trying to justify a Facebook presence. That thought has evolved into candid discussions that are questioning the role of traditional advertising campaigns. But, as overwhelmed as we are, I feel strangely comforted to know that we’re all a little behind, because this evolving field is changing faster than we’ll ever be able to keep up.

Some things never change, and that’s a good thing.

Even today, health system employees generally prefer to receive communication from their direct supervisor. Dennis Pullin, president of MedStar Harbor Hospital, takes this to heart. “We will be approachable and we will be transparent,” he promises employees. Rounding, mandatory employee town-hall forums and good, old-fashioned face time have helped fulfill this promise. This is some of the hardest work we’ll do, but it is so important for healthcare marketers not to lose sight of internal communications.

Social media is no longer “free.”

If you’re not already paying to play, it’s time to pony up. Both Stephanie Cannon with Nationwide Children’s Hospital and Kathy Divis, of, discussed the impact of Facebook’s new algorithm on healthcare marketers. Now, Facebook advertising is a need to have, no longer a nice to have.

The role of the physician liaison is changing.

While nothing will replace face-to-face interactions, physician liaisons will be charged with maintaining social media presences as part of their daily duties soon. If you’re not doing it now, start engaging online. Immediately.

What were your insights? More importantly, what will you do differently when you get back to the office?
Stephanie Hungerford is the Director of Healthcare Marketing at Core. Follow her on Twitter @shungerford.

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