As my career has developed, I’ve learned to care less about doing what’s popular. That’s particularly true when it comes to speaking at conferences. My goal in presenting at conferences has always been to share information that the attendees can put into action. However, earlier in my career, I wanted to hit topics that would attract large, standing room only crowds. Today, I want to address topics that I think we need to be talking about. Those aren’t always the most popular topics and they are usually not in vogue. The three topics I’ve focused my presentations on lately are Patient Safety & Quality, Marketing’s Role in Population Health Management, and Advocacy Marketing in Healthcare. Today, I want to talk about preventing avoidable medical errors that lead to unnecessary patient deaths; I want to talk about how we put the patient at the center of the care team and how, as marketers, we need to listen to the voice of the patient; I want to talk about the social determinants of health and how we can’t solve the health problems in our communities within the walls of the hospital; and I want to talk about the need for healthcare leaders to speak up and advocate for change/transformation of our health system in the United States. Those are the topics that excite me! And I thoroughly understand that they don’t excite everyone in our field.
At last week’s Healthcare and IT Marketing Conference (HITMC), I was given the rare opportunity to directly address two of those topics through my presentations.
On Thursday, I presented with one of my co-workers, Kate Gillmer. Together, we presented on the topic of Marketing and Collaboration Strategies to Support Population Health Initiatives. We shared detailed case studies from Copley Hospital, Renown Health, and the Practical Playbook (a partnership of the CDC, Duke, and the de Beaumont Foundation).
We talked about the important role that marketers can play in facilitating collaboration between their organization and community organizations (non-profits, churches, and public health organizations) as part of an effort to address the social determinants of health within their communities. It’s perfect for marketers to play this role; we are natural community builders and we are experienced in creating coalitions to help achieve our organizations’ business objectives. One of my favorite stories in this regard is how little Copley Hospital in Morrisville, Vermont, brought together more than a dozen community organizations to participate in a community health blog that would address the more pressing issues they face in their county: Opioid addiction, suicide, obesity, heart disease, poverty, affordable housing, and diabetes. It was amazing and instructive that the marketing team conceived this project and brought all of these organizations to the table. I will add that the marketing team is made up of two professionals. Just two.
Kate and I thoroughly enjoyed telling these population health stories and appreciate having the opportunity to share our perspective. People stayed for the duration of the presentation and asked really smart questions.
On Friday, the last day of the HITMC conference, I led a panel discussion on Advocacy Marketing in Healthcare. John Lynn and Colin Hung from HITMC had given me the opportunity to develop this panel and handpick the panelists. I chose three rock star professionals with plenty of experience in Advocacy: Vanessa Stafford of the New Hampshire Hospital Association; Christine Baratta, the former VP of Marketing for the Massachusetts Health & Hospital Association; and Kim Hollon, the president and CEO of Signature Healthcare (Brockton, Massachusetts). Together, we discussed how hospitals and health systems are successfully incorporated advocacy into their Marketing & PR routines. From grassroots marketing strategies to content marketing strategies, healthcare organizations are finding the need to be more proactive in asserting their advocacy agenda – speaking to both consumers and influentials such as state legislators, government officials, and members of the media. Advocacy agendas could include everything from Medicaid Expansion to Certificate of Need legislation to Mandatory Nursing Ratios.
One of the things I love about the HITMC Conference is that they are willing to take on important issues facing healthcare and not just address the most popular trends. On a more trite level, I also love that they select incredible locations for their conferences. Being in Boston this year was so much fun. In closing, below are a few photos from my time in Boston.