And just like that, SHSMD Connections is over and we’ve returned to our offices exhausted, inspired and, if you’ve read my colleague’s post, a couple pounds heavier (they fed us WELL this year). There is always so much valuable information shared at the conference and this year was no different. Here are four themes I heard throughout the conference that resonated with me and have me energized for the months ahead.
The idea of content-driven marketing isn’t new, but it was a recurring theme throughout this year’s conference. Storytelling continued to be a hot topic, with discussions around the best channels to utilize (video is overwhelmingly where many systems are placing their focus) and the best types of stories to tell (patient stories, all day, every day). In fact, Megan Yore, Chief Communications Officer and Director of Marketing for Lakeland Health shared a statistic that I think nearly everyone in the session took note of. Based on research done with a group Lakeland Health’s own patients, it was discovered that people preferred patient stories to accreditation 20:1 and patient stories to physician profiles 15:1. That data may not be universal, but I think it reinforces the need to answer our patients’ demands for real, authentic content.
In his keynote address, Dr. Roni Zieger, former Chief Health Strategist at Google and co-founder/CEO of Smart Patients, talked about a shift in people looking for content to people looking for people looking for content. That means that searches are evolving to not only focus on a particular disease, but to also include others who are dealing with the disease themselves.
Dr. Zieger explained that patients only spend a small fraction of time interacting with healthcare providers. The rest of the time, they’re reaching out to those with similar experiences to discuss treatments, symptoms and to connect with a shared experience. Traditional healthcare will need to develop and maintain platforms on which patients can interact with others – be they physicians or fellow patients or caregivers.
There was a collective head nod when Barbara A. Fahey, PhD of Fahey Associates, Inc. told us that as marketers, our job is to serve as the conscience of our organizations. While everyone in an organization is responsible for adopting the brand, marketing – with the help of other key stakeholders – plays a key role in ensuring that the core values of our organizations align with the behaviors of our employees. A strong internal understanding of the brand by all employees ensures that the brand, as Fahey said, “won’t blow up at the bedside.”
Since we were in Chicago, home to the famed The Second City, it’s no surprise that humor was infused into much of the conference. We were lucky enough to see a healthcare-related show performed by members of The Second City in honor of SHSMD’s 20th anniversary and it was a nice reminder to not take ourselves too seriously.
I’m looking forward to putting these and other takeaways into practice. Thanks, SHSMD, for a great experience. See you next year!
Laura Koski is a Healthcare Marketing Specialist at Core Creative.