Archive for the ‘healthcare conference’ Category

Screen Shot 2014-07-28 at 2.41.56 PMLooking for an event to attend in late September? Or perhaps your organization, like so many others, is chasing the holy grail of “patient engagement?” On September 30-October 1 in Bethesda, Maryland, the ENGAGE forum will discuss the leading innovations and latest strategies in improving patient care and healthcare delivery. MedCity ENGAGE is an executive-level event featuring the most innovative thinking from payers, providers, policymakers, health IT and beyond to highlight best-in-class approaches to one of the biggest challenges in healthcare: patient engagement. It will feature speakers discussing the current attempts to innovate in care delivery and reimbursement, along with the innovations that will form the backbone of technological infrastructure.

According to MedCityNews, the producer of the Engage forum, attendees can expect to gather a number of take-aways, benefits and insights from the event:

  • A better understanding of the current care environment and the major policy and market drivers behind care innovation
  • Perspectives from federal policy leaders on future government support of patient engagement
  • Perspectives from health leaders on the business case for exceptional patient engagement
  • Insight from engagement experts from a variety of different fields and how to apply those principles to healthcare
  • Access to innovators “in the trenches” and demonstrations of the latest technology platforms to communicate with and encourage patient behavior.

For information about the event, go to: http://events.medcitynews.com/engage/


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Tomorrow I will be speaking at the Annual Meeting of the Ohio Hospital Association. The theme of the conference is “Leading Health Care Innovation For A Healthy Ohio.” In my talk I will review innovations in referring physician marketing. In particular, I’ll look at the emergence of digital physician relations and review case studies that show how hospitals are successfully integrating digital components into their overall physician marketing programs. This is not about abandoning tried and true marketing tactics; rather, this is about integrating new digital tools and platforms into the mix, accommodating the growing number of physicians who are now comfortable with digital communication.

If you’re in Columbus, Ohio on June 10th, I’d love to see you. I’m looking forward to my time at the Ohio Hospital Association’s Annual Meeting.


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The other day I received an email reminder about the 8th Annual National Conference on Health Communication, Marketing, and Media –  sponsored by The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the National Public Health Information Coalition. The event will take place August 19-21, 2014 at the Hyatt Regency in Atlanta.

The conference brings together individuals representing academia, public health researchers and practitioners from federal and state government and the private sector, and provides a forum for dialogue within and across these disciplines. It provides an excellent opportunity for attendees to learn, share knowledge, meet with colleagues and shape the future of health communication, marketing, and media practice.

Click here for registration information.

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I’m sitting at the airport, waiting for my flight home after spending four days in Mystic, Connecticut attending the 2014 Spring Conference of the New England Society for Healthcare Communications. My hat is off once again to the conference planning committee and Kelly Woodsum, NESHCo’s executive director. The event was a great success due to their hard work. The theme of patient engagement was right on.

Below are the Twitter analytics for the conference as provided by Tweet Binder. (Click on any image to see it in a larger format.) A total of 75 people Tweeted at some point during the conference using the #neshco14 hashtag. This included people not attending the conference but simply sharing Tweets. 39 of those individuals only Tweeted once. Only 17 people Tweeted six or more times using the #neshco14 hashtag. You can get a good feel for which individuals were actively Tweeting by reviewing the “Contributor Rankings” chart below. It provides a count for original Tweets, most popular (based on # of followers), highest impact (based on total potential impressions), and most active (Tweets & Retweets). My takeaway is that this group of communications practitioners has not yet adopted Twitter as a tool for communicating with colleagues and industry peers, for better or worse.

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Screen Shot 2013-08-22 at 9.58.39 AMOne of the amazing developments in healthcare over the last few years has been the rise of the connected patient or ePatient. At the end of 2011 I was interviewed by a reporter who was writing an article predicting the leading healthcare marketing trends of the upcoming year. My rather optimistic prediction was that 2012 would be the year of the ePatient. In the end, 2012 was probably not the year of the ePatient (nor was 2013), but there was progress. The voice of the patient was more prevalent than it had been in the past, and the participatory medicine movement was gaining momentum. The Society for Participatory Medicine (e-patients.net) has been a significant force in this movement. For those not familiar with the term, the Society defines participatory medicine as a model of cooperative health care that seeks to achieve active involvement by patients, professionals, caregivers, and others across the continuum of care. Although there are well know advocates and activists working for patient engagement (ePatient Dave, Alicia Staley, Kelly Young, Regina Holliday, to name a few), much of the work has been done by thousands of patients who have blogged, Tweeted and engaged in community building activities in an effort to tell their stories and change the prevailing relationship between patients and providers. (explore: We are all patients!)

I’m certainly not the first person to say it, but patients are the most under utilized resource in healthcare. It’s not just the clinical setting where the patient’s voice has been missing; it is also the case within hospital marketing departments. The field of healthcare marketing in general has failed to recognize the value and importance of the patient’s perspective. Think about healthcare marketing conferences. It is the rare exception when a healthcare marketing conference has a patient panel on its agenda or has a patient as a featured speaker. At our professional development events, the patient has been conspicuously absent. That’s odd given all that we can learn from patients and family members. I would argue that any marketing strategy that we develop should be informed by the perspective of the patient. How are we to understand how our hospital brands are perceived without LISTENING to those constituents we serve? The need to hear and learn goes far beyond patient satisfaction surveys. I’m talking about creating a culture and an understanding within our organizations that recognizes the value of the patient’s voice. We need to hear their stories and not be dismissive. (Listen to be better clinicians and provide better care)

That’s why I advocated for and am leading an ePatient Panel today at the the Spring Conference of the New England Society for Healthcare Communications. It will be a keynote session over lunch, and I have gathered an amazing group of panelists:

Alicia Staley and I have known each other through social media for at least 7 years. We first met when I was on a tear trying support Tufts Medical Center in a managed care battle with BCBSMA. At that time when I met Alicia, she had about 10 times more Twitter followers than I – and was more than willing to jump in and help me out by advocating for Tufts MC online. She shares my affinity for the organization! I have considered her a friend ever since. Alicia is a 3 time cancer survivor committed to making a difference in the health care community. She started the Staley Foundation in October 2007 as a way to work toward education, advocacy, and assistance for those affected by cancer as patients, caregivers, family, or friends. She shares her passion and enthusiasm for helping the cancer community by contributing to http://www.awesomecancersurivor.com and www.thehitcommunity.org. And she is one of the moderators of the weekly Breast Cancer Social Media chat on Twitter.

Catherine Rose, PhD, is an ePatient and an eParent. Alicia Staley originally connected me with Catherine (thanks Alicia!), although Catherine and I are both members of the Healthcare Leadership Twitter Community. Today, Catherine is Product Manager for Healthcare Lighting applications at Philips. She completed three degrees in 4 years at NC State University. Then she went to Stanford for a PhD in Mechanical Engineering, rounding that out with an MBA in Finance from University of Massachusetts. But with all that, Catherine says her real education started when she became a Mom. She is mom to Alexis (8) and Jessica (6), both of whom have various medical issues. Inspired by the experience with Alexis’ combined hearing and vision impairments, Catherine developed a product called LightAide. Catherine works to support other families in their challenging medical journeys.

On her blog, Catherine states that no parent should feel:

  • inferior to a health professional because of educational status
  • isolated because of a rare disease diagnosis
  • alarmed because of the complications of their child’s medical issues
  • helpless because the complexities and healthcare system bureaucracy
  • hopeless because of future path outlined by clinicians

Laurie Edwards is a patient advocate and health/science writer whose work has appeared in the New York Times, Boston Globe magazine, Psychology Today, and WBUR, among many others. She has had several chronic illnesses since childhood. Laurie is the author of Life Disrupted: Getting Real About Chronic Illness in your Twenties and Thirties, named a 2008 Best Consumer Health Book by Library Journal, and In The Kingdom of the Sick: A Social History of Chronic Illness in America, which was voted Editor’s Choice for Adult Books, 2013 by Booklist. She teaches writing for the health sciences at Northeastern University in Boston, MA. I’ve written about Laurie’s books in this blog. They are extraordinary and recommended reading for any healthcare professional.

Amir Lewkowicz is is co-founder and Vice President for Partnerships at Inspire. Inspire is an online platform that connects patients, families, friends, caregivers and health professionals for health and wellness support. Amir is leading Inspire’s efforts in partnering with patient advocacy groups as well as with pharmaceutical, biotechnology and medical device companies.Amir Lewkowicz and his partners created Inspire as a way to help accelerate clinical trial recruitment through online social networks. They believed then, and still do now, that if you could organize communities of patients by therapeutic area and give them opportunities to participate in medical research, you would have patients who are highly engaged and open to research opportunities. Amir received his BA from The George Washington University and his MBA from Babson College. It was at Babson where he became fascinated with social media and decided to make social media his career.

Understanding and Appreciating Patient Feedback

Too often I hear healthcare professionals talking about that one, loud, dissatisfied patient that is creating a stir, and is wholly unrepresentative of others who visit the practice. More likely, this individual is the one patient who actually decided to speak up and express their dismay over the manner in which they were treated. We need to be open to hearing that, and be welcoming of their perspectives. After all, our organization’s brands don’t live in our brochures or websites; they live in the experiences of patients, family members and our employees. These are the people who go out and share their experiences with friends, neighbors and colleagues. These are the storytellers who shape brand perceptions and public opinion. Going back to the analogy of hive marketing, after their encounter with your organization, they return to their community and recount their experience. Those who hear the story, leave the hive, and pass the story along, or, at a minimum, carry it with them and store it in the back of their mind.

When I encounter patient complaints on Facebook, they are often angry and frustrated. I believe that some of that comes from a feeling of not having a voice and not being heard. When patients engage with clinicians, the encounter is usually way too brief, and there is little opportunity for meaningful exchanges to take place. The patient is out the door, head spinning, wondering what just happened. The question I would ask is: Do we invite meaningful patient feedback? Do we strive to create environments where patients feel that their input is welcome? Both marketers and clinicians need to work to create environments, online and real world, where patients feel comfortable offering feedback and know it is valued. How do we show that we value feedback? Go back to one of the principles of community: Reciprocity. At some point in an encounter with a patient, we need to stop talking and ask fro their feedback. That changes the interaction from an “encounter” to a “conversation.” It may seem simple, but when you’re moving fast, it is easy to forget to slow down long enough to ask the all important question.

Marketers can help their organizations gather valuable input from patients through the management of the hospital’s online  communities (Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, etc). There is an art to creating online environments where the free sharing of opinions and experiences takes place. As most of us have experienced, you can’t simply create a Facebook page and expect random conversations to spring to life. As the community manager or moderator of the group, you have to invite conversation and let people know (by example) that it is okay to share within the platform. If all they see is post after post by the hospital, they are likely to feel they are witnessing a monologue rather than taking part in a conversation. The first key to creating a safe environment that welcomes patient input is to ask questions. This is no different than the patient’s experience with the clinician. By asking the individual how they feel and how we can help them, we are signalling that we value their input. So ask. However, in the beginning, simply posting a relevant question on your Facebook wall may not stimulate engagement. Sometimes conversation needs a little encouragement. The people visiting your Facebook page will look to see if others have comments, before they comment. That’s why you may need to seed the conversation. Have a couple of friends or colleagues leave responses. This is all part of the process of creating an environment that invites conversation. You’re not trying to invite negative comments; you are trying to create community and sharing. The potential benefit to the organization is the learning that takes place when brand constituents start to share their experiences and perspectives. It will be up to you to pass those along to the appropriate individuals who can benefit from the information.

It is important to note that having a platform for expressing yourself is not the same as being heard. When you invite members of your online communities to share their stories, you are opening a door to conversation. That means that you need to be prepared to respond. Some comments only require a quick “thank you,” while others will require you to serve as a mediator or facilitator. If you don’t know the answer to a question posed by a visitor to your site, it is best to admit that you don’t know and offer to connect them with the appropriate individual within your organization. But don’t lose track of the individual and their need for an answer. Make sure that they know you are working to get them an answer. In the end they may not like the answer, but at the very least, they will know that they have been heard and you treated them in a manner that clearly demonstrates that you value their input. By responding to them initially within the forum (for example, on your Facebook wall), you are showing the entire community that you care. In that way, you are opening the community to more conversation and eliminating any taboos that may exist. When the nature of a community member’s feedback is harsh, after your initial response, I recommend taking the conversation offline. At my firm, we will typically respond by acknowledging their comment while providing an email address where they can contact us for a more detailed conversation. We make it clear that we value their input and see this as an opportunity to improve the patient experience. That’s what I mean when I suggest that hospitals should welcome negative feedback. Through feedback from patients and family members we will become better care providers and better marketers/community builders.


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For the next three days I’ll be attending one of my favorite events of the year – the Spring Conference of the New England Society for Healthcare Communications. For the last two years I’ve been fortunate to serve on the NESHCo Board of Directors and on their membership committee. It has been a wonderful experience. For those of you who have served on boards, you know that it is not always a great experience.

Screen Shot 2014-05-11 at 6.00.00 PMToday I’m attending a board meeting/retreat for a good part of the day, and then there’s an opening reception this evening. This year’s spring conference is taking place in Mystic, Connecticut. In New England, there is no shortage of scenic spots to hold these events. Last year we were at Newport, RI and at the Boston Waterfront the year before that. My favorite part of the conference is simply reconnecting with colleagues who I only see a couple of times a year. The members of this organization are gracious and welcoming.

Screen Shot 2014-05-11 at 6.04.35 PMThursday is the main day of the conference, with many educational sessions. I’ll be leading an exciting ePatient panel over lunch! This is something I have wanted to do for years. My thanks to NESHCo for making it happen. We need the voice of the patient to be more prominent within our industry. End of story!

On Thursday evening, NESHCo holds its annual Lamplighter Awards Dinner, sponsored by my good friends at Market Street Research. Two years ago my firm was fortunate to have an affiliation campaign for two of our clients win The Lamp (Best of New England Award): Signature Healthcare and Tufts Medical Center. We’ve been privileged to have our clients win a number of Lamplighter Awards each year. This year we entered work for Tufts Medical Center, Floating Hospital for Children, Dartmouth-Hitchcock Medical Center, Lawrence General Hospital, Lowell General Hospital and Signature Healthcare. We’ll see what happens on Thursday night.

The conference concludes on Friday with additional educational sessions. The day starts at 7am with a very cool Tai Chi and Qigong session designed to help you feel relaxed, energized and balanced.  David Chandler, Tai Chi Master from Eagle’s Quest Tai Chi Center will lead the group through the basics. I am excited about this session. The final keynote of the conference will start at 11am and feature my friend Dan Miers of SPM Marketing. Dan will do a terrific job talking about branding in the age of accountable care.

I hope to see you at the conference! Look for my Tweets, Facebook and Instagram posts.


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Screen Shot 2014-05-08 at 2.35.27 PMToday I’m attending and speaking at the PRSA Health Academy in Washington, DC. It is the second time in two weeks that David Meerman Scott and I are on the same slate of speakers. It’s pretty cool to be in his company. We had a chance to connect in Orlando last week prior to his keynote at the Healthcare Marketing and Physician Strategies Summit. Judy Neiman of the Healthcare Strategy Institute introduced us. His presentation was extraordinary, so the folks at #PRSAHealth are in for a treat. He’ll be doing the keynote tomorrow morning so I should be able to attend.

Screen Shot 2014-05-08 at 2.46.05 PMI present at 10:45am, together with Marie Gross, VP Business Development, Signature Healthcare. The title of our presentation is: “Once Upon a Niche: Using Storytelling to Build Online Health Care Communities.” Among other things (it will be an action packed presentation) we will share some of the initiatives Signature Healthcare has launched to engage niche audiences (Physicians, Patients, Community Members, etc.).

If you’re not familiar with PRSA Health Academy, the conference helps health care communicators sharpen their competitive edge by providing insights into emerging industry trends, tools and techniques. And I am fortunate to be presenting at the Academy for the second year in a row. If you’re in attendance, please come up and say hello!

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