Healthcare Marketing as a Profession

Healthcare: The Times They Are A Changing

(You may have noticed that it is snowing on my blog – and it is snowing while I sit here in Boston today.) For those of us working in healthcare marketing, the world has gotten much more complex over the last several years. Long gone are the days when a marketing program consisted of radio, TV, print, outdoor, transit and direct mail. Integrated marketing has a new look today.  And many of us now have tools such as sales automation, CRMs, PRMs, and the like. The good news is that the new brand of integrated marketing, which includes digital elements and customer relationship management tools, is more targeted and measurable.

The World Trade Center in Boston
The World Trade Center in Boston

Today my team and I are working on a number of new engagements – most of which have nothing to do with advertising. From my perspective, we stopped being an advertising agency years ago. We are currently working on a care coordination and population health management assignment; a global health project; an engagement focused on medical tourism and international access to high quality care; a number of marketing programs to promote hospital affiliations; a new project aimed at bringing together public health professionals and primary care providers; and a number of projects that involve the development and management of online patient communities.

At the same time, we are also doing some of what we’ve always done: rebranding a health system; developing a bariatrics campaign for a medical center; writing crisis management plans for hospitals (very prevalent right now); developing and managing physician marketing programs; and producing lots of patient and clinician videos. That work won’t go away – at least not for a long time. The content development part of the job should never go away. In fact, demand for high quality content, including professionally produced video, should only grow. Video content can be so powerful, particularly when leveraged across a variety of platforms (Web, Google+, YouTube, Facebook, Twitter, and more). Our digital platforms today need great content that provides value to visitors. In healthcare marketing, we do not have a great history of creating advertising and marketing that provides real value to those on the receiving end. Instead, we have a history of spewing crap at consumers (pardon the expression but it seems apropos).

This complexity within the rapidly changing healthcare ecosystem is why, several years ago, my firm made the decision to focus exclusively on healthcare. From my perspective, it is impossible to be exceptional at what we do without the laser-like focus on the industry. It was time to drive a stake in the ground! Things are changing too fast and the healthcare landscape is too complex. To expect my team to be experts in healthcare, transportation, travel & tourism, higher education, and the financial industry was just too much. I believe there is power in focus and it will lead to better outcomes for my firm and our clients. It is important to me that our art directors, copywriters, community managers, account executives, and digital strategists all understand healthcare. I want them reading Modern Healthcare, HealthLeaders magazine, H&HN, Healthcare Marketing Report, and Strategic Healthcare Marketing, among others. They should subscribe to Ragan.com’s Healthcare Communications News Feed. You get the point.

That’s the Jennings story – told by a professional storyteller who now spends most of his time creating online environments for patients, family members and prospective patients, and facilitating health-oriented conversations within those settings. It’s a new day in healthcare marketing and I’m glad to be in the middle of it all.

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