Comparing HMPS to SHSMD

May 25, 2018
Ward Alles President and Brand Consultant

Both dare healthcare marketers to answer the same question

If you’re a healthcare marketing professional, maybe “the budget” allows you to go to ONE conference per year. So, which to choose?

Well, if you think this brief commentary is going to recommend which healthcare marketing conference is better, Healthcare Marketing & Physician Strategies Summit (HMPS) or The Society for Healthcare Strategy & Market Development (SHSMD), sorry to disappoint.

Instead, allow me to offer this perspective.

Having attended both conferences now (from the vendor side), I’m struck by the similarities of these events.

  • Every year, both associations choose exceptional venues.
  • Both provide similar formats for learning and networking.
  • And both provide their share of best-practice sharing and resource gathering.

In effect, year after year, the leaders of our nation’s leading healthcare brands (and their business partners) gather to showcase their latest insights about effective healthcare marketing, i.e. what works, what doesn’t, and where the puck is heading.

Even as we faithfully attend breakout session after breakout session, and listen to presentation after presentation, the subject matter at these conferences really boils down to one question:

Are YOU a GOOD communicator?

You’ll find that question repeated and answered equally as well at both HMPS and SHSMD (as well as other smaller, local or regional conferences, I’m sure).

But that’s it. That’s what you’ll get. That’s “the dare” you are exposed to.

It doesn’t matter what the topic is:

  • Mergers and acquisitions
  • Physician or nurse recruitment
  • Employee engagement
  • The patient experience
  • Online reputation management
  • Rebuilding web sites
  • Creating a personal brand for the CEO
  • And so on and so on

It doesn’t matter if you listen to experts from the Mayo Clinic or the Cleveland Clinic or (insert name of national leader here) explain “how we did it”, the fact remains: YOU (and your team and business partners) need to do it.

And while you certainly can receive inspiration and get ideas from these leaders, at the end of the day, you simply need to be a leader yourself.

No matter what the business circumstance, you are tasked to effectively communicate. That means you need to identify your message and its sender and receiver … and then create the right pathways for dialogue that ultimately lead to (get this!) … a RELATIONSHIP.

Ultimately, that’s what you’ll find at any HMPS or SHSMD presentation:

  • A message
  • A sender
  • A receiver
  • A pathway
  • And a relationship (feelings of mutual respect or regard)

And just how do these presenters fill out this formula? By following another formula:

  • Research
  • Insight
  • Planning
  • Execution
  • Measurement
  • Analysis
  • Adjustments

It’s the same formula any consultant or agency applies when advising you on your business challenges.

After attending several sessions at this year’s HMPS conference in Salt Lake City and then further reviewing many of their presentation decks online, I consistently saw good communicators from the worlds of branding, marketing, internal communications, HR, physician recruitment, etc. trying to improve the experience for people (docs, staff, patients, consumers) on both a group and individual level.

In effect, they were looking for ways to improve relationships through effective communication by being:

  • Relevant
  • Respectful
  • Helpful
  • Individualized (where appropriate)
  • And always accessible

They had studied what to say and to whom … when to say it … how to say it … how much to say … and then invited two-way dialogue and feedback. They were effectively reaching, teaching and moving their audience.

There are no magic bullets in the presentations. No completely new formulas (however, I will admit, there are always new tools to send and receive and measure signals, and each of them comes with its own rules and behaivors). But in the end, there are simply good communicators. Smart, focused people. Creative message senders. Willing message receivers. And lots of hard, but rewarding work.

So, by all means, attend your share of conferences to learn, to grow, to network, to get inspired, to get out of your “bubble,” to relax for a moment and catch your breath.

But by all means, at the end of the day, don’t miss the forest for the trees. The major take-away and the ultimate “dare” you’ll receive at any conference, HMPS or SHSMD not withstanding, is this:

  • Your job as a professional healthcare marketer is to create relationships between your brand and its audience. One patient, one doctor, one influencer at a time if need be.
  • Your job is to be a good communicator.

It’s a big job. But it’s also a lot of fun. As always, please let us know if we can help.


Ward Alles is a Brand Consultant and President at Core Creative, a branding agency that specializes in telling the life-changing stories for mid-market healthcare systems and the emerging med-tech world.



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