Beginning Sunday, April 29, 2012, healthcare marketers will descend upon Orlando, Florida for two and a half days of great networking, learning, and sharing. It’s an annual event: The 17th National Healthcare Marketing Strategies Summit – formerly called the National Forum for Customer Based Marketing Strategies (HCMS). The new name is simpler and more on point. I don’t know how many attendees the conference attracts, my guess is 400 or 500. Many of them are thought leaders in our industry. These are people like Chris Boyer, Gabrielle DeTora, Chris Bevolo, Karen Corrigan, Linda MacCracken, Jesse Stremcha, Suzanne Sawyer, Danny Fell, Lyle Green, Bill Gombeski, Rob Rosenberg, Carla Bryant, Allison McCarthy, and so many more. These, together with my most challenging clients, are the people I learn from everyday. I’m in contact with several of them on a regular basis via social media. But man (or Dan) does not live by social media alone! The Summit represents a chance for all of us to come together in real life (IRL for you twitter folks) and have more free form interactions and exchanges.
I’ll be presenting on Monday with my colleagues Lyle Green (MD Anderson) and Jill Lawlor (Cooper University Hospital). Our topic is “marketing to referring physicians” and Jill and Lyle will present case studies from their respective organizations. I’ll be doing the set-up and color commentary! We did a similar presentation last month to a very different audience at the AAMC GIA conference in Palm Springs. It was rewarding to see how much interest our talk generated at the AAMC event. Hopefully we’ll have a similar experience at HMSS.
One of my regrets about conferences like this is that more healthcare communicators don’t have the travel and conference budget to attend. Most of the hospital marketers I know end up going to a regional conference annually, and that is the big continuing education and networking event of the year. I love going to these regional conference, and just returned from the spring conference of the Virginia Society for Healthcare Marketing and Public Relations. The speakers at that event were amazing. But there were only four presentations and the opportunity to network with a variety of thought leaders from a number of disciplines within the industry just doesn’t happen at these regional conferences. It’s a reality we deal with. Hopefully, most healthcare communicators are now using social media to connect with peers across the country, helping to give them access to leading edge thinking. That is certainly what I try to do. Through Twitter and Linkedin (primarily), I have daily access to thought leaders in our field. And I love it!
If you’re interested in following the conference on Twitter, the official hashtag is #hcms12.