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anncomptonAt this point in my career, I’ve attended more conference than I can count. That said, I’m not easily impressed. That makes my reaction to day one of #SHSMD16 all the more surprising. I was stunned Ann Compton’s opening keynote address. She was spectacular. For those of you who may not know, for decades Ann Compton served as a White House correspondent for ABC News.

Yesterday was the 15th anniversary of September 11th, 2001 – certainly a day most of us will never forget. It is definitely a day Ann Compton will never forget. You see, she was traveling with President Bush when the planes hit the twin towers of the World Trade Center in New York City. She was there when President Bush was notified of the attack. And she spent the remainder of that day on Air Force One, one of the few journalists who was allowed to remain on the plane after it refueled at Barksdale Air Force Base in Louisiana. From Louisiana, they flew to Offutt air base in Nebraska, then finally returned to Washington.

Ann told this incredibly moving story as part of her keynote last night. I don’t think there was a person in the room who wasn’t emotionally impacted by what Ann shared. It was truly an honor to be there in the audience and hear her account of that day. That presentation alone justified the cost of admission to this conference. Everything else is gravy from this point forward. I’m grateful to the conference planners, volunteers and SHSMD paid staff, for making last night possible. It was poignant.

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It’s that time of year again – time for the annual SHSMD Connections Conference. The event kicks off this Sunday (September 11th) in Chicago and I’ll be there participating in four days of learning, networking, sharing and reconnecting. I look forward to attending sessions on marketing automation, customer relationship marketing, marketing metrics, physician reputation management, digital storytelling, patient experience and population health management.

The annual SHSMD Conference is always a great place for reconnecting with old friends and colleagues. That is perhaps my favorite aspect of the event. I see many of these people on Twitter, LinkedIn and Facebook on a daily basis throughout the year, but it is a special treat to connect with them in person at SHSMD. Usually there’s hugging involved. Really.

I’ll be Tweeting and blogging from SHSMD. Please feel free to follow along. If you are attending the conference, please seek me out and say hello. Or, even better, join me for deep dish pizza at Giordano’s – one of my favorite spots for eating my favorite food.

In the spirit of full disclosure and transparency, I serve on the SHSMD’s Digital Engagement Task Force and have done so for the last few years. And Dana Smith, one of my co-workers, chairs the Task Force. I’m not sure that impacts what I write about the organization, but I thought it was worth mentioning.

img_7971Pizza is on my mind this week. Truthfully, it is on my mind every week. Just ask my wife. I love pizza. But this week my thoughts of pizza are more intense than usual, probably because I’m heading to Chicago on Sunday for the annual SHSMD Connections Conference. And Chicago is home to some amazing deep dish pizza. By hook or by crook, I will find a way to make it over to Giordano’s one evening to indulge in their famous stuffed pizza. After much trial and error, Giordano’s has become one of my favorite spots for Chicago pizza (by the way, there’s plenty of bad Chicago pizza). I tend to keep the toppings simple, opting for veggies, usually jalapeno peppers and onions.

But there’s more to my fixation on pizza than my impending trip to Chicago. You’re probably well aware that Monday was National Cheese Pizza Day. My wife and I celebrated over a brick oven pizza margherita. But there’s more. What really got me fixated on pizza was an article in NY Magazine last week citing a recent study that found that pizza is a top motivator for employees.

Within this study, the promise of pizza and a compliment from the boss were both found to be top motivators, proving to be significantly better motivators than the offer of a small cash bonus.

“After the first day, pizza proved to be the top motivator, increasing productivity by 6.7 percent over the control group, thereby just barely edging out the promise of a compliment (in the form of a text message from the boss that said “Well done!”). Those in the compliment condition increased their productivity by 6.6 percent as compared to the control group. But the worst motivator, much to the company’s surprise, was the cash bonus, which increased productivity by just 4.9 percent as compared to the control group.” (Source: NY Magazine, August 29, 2016)

For a long time I’ve felt that the value of money as a motivator is fleeting. When thinking about how best to motivate employees, I believe that the best route is to create an environment where they feel valued and appreciated. And you need to show that appreciation on a regular basis. This is absolutely the case for hospital employees.

Those healthcare organizations that have integrated employee appreciation into their culture have derived all kinds of benefits: greater employee satisfaction, lower turnover rates, lower absenteeism, and higher patient satisfaction. The culture of appreciation has to be authentic and can’t be manufactured overnight. And it isn’t all about pizza! It’s all about showing appreciation, catching people doing things right, recognizing good work, having leadership walk the halls, connecting employees to the mission and celebrating achievements. Pizza is simply an iconic way of showing appreciation. In the Carolinas, BBQ has a similar impact!

One last note. I believe that the principles of community building apply to any effort to build corporate culture. As employees and co-workers, we are drawn together by shared interests and a shared commitment to the organization’s mission. But culture takes time and the opportunity for storytelling and commiserating. It is not a coincidence that for thousands of years human beings have formed community and celebrated community over shared meals. At Jennings, we bring in lunch twice a month for our team, giving employees an opportunity to share a meal, tell stories and bond over common experiences. For a hard driving team, where people are constantly going in different directions, this brief respite and demonstration of appreciation is just what the doctor ordered. And it is my belief that the pizza lunches have the largest impact!

Screen Shot 2016-08-30 at 5.36.46 PMI make it a practice to stay away from politics. This political season is no exception. But as a healthcare marketer and blogger who occasionally writes about HIPAA, I can’t help but notice that HIPAA (not HIPPA) has now become part of the political conversation. Recently there have been several articles from national publications (online and traditional) pondering whether or not Donald Trump’s physician (Dr. Bornstein) has been violating HIPAA by using Windows XP – a platform that is no longer supported by Microsoft. The old Windows XP platform may no longer meet requirements for information systems containing private health information. According to media reports, Windows XP is widely viewed as an unsafe platform. (Of course, the real question is why does the media care whether or not Dr. Bornstein is HIPAA compliant.)

How did this conversation about HIPAA originate? Evidently, while reviewing recent NBC News video footage of Dr. Bornstein where his computer monitor was visible in the background, Deadspin’s Tum Burke noticed that the physician uses Windows XP. The rest is history.

Screen Shot 2016-08-30 at 5.21.19 PMThis has all been happening in the context of the most ridiculous campaign season I have ever witnessed. Whoever came up with the expression “truth is stranger than fiction” would marvel at the current political environment. Donald Trump’s physician has penned a very strange letter attesting to his patient’s extraordinary health, while Hillary Clinton’s health is being questioned by any number of sources. I expected HEALTHCARE to be an issue in this election. I fully expected the Affordable Care Act to be a point of contention. However, it is now evident that the health of the candidates, questions about how forthcoming they are regarding their health, and the practices of their physicians are to be part of the discourse. We definitely live in interesting times!

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Nothing can replace the value of providing useful content that people actually desire. A blogger for one of our hospital mommy blogs wrote a post in 2012 offering up simple advice for unplugging a clogged toilet. To date, that post has received more than 78,000 views. What happened? People searched for this information on Google, then they went to the site and found this post to be helpful. Google noted the interaction with the post and kept offering it up when people searched for information about unclogging toilets. Now, more than 100 people per day view that post. Look at these top search terms:

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Is supplying information about how to unclog a toilet important? It sure is if you want to connect with busy moms. Think about it. Whatever you’re juggling in your household, if the toilet gets clogged, that is an urgent issue. You need it resolved in a hurry. This blog post has proven its value over and over again. And, it serves as a great reminder that useful content may appear to be mundane on the surface! That’s an important lesson for us all.

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Like you, I get email messages daily reminding me of industry events, award competitions and more. Here are a few things you might want to make note of in your calendar: (This is in no way a definitive list. Feel free to send me additions.)

And looking forward…

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Last weekend, my business partner (Paige Zinn) used a Facebook post to nominated me to participate in the #22PushupChallenge. I agreed to do it, and figured I should also write a blog post to bring more awareness to the issue of soldier suicide. (As an aside, I don’t do pushups as part of my workout regimen, so the thought of doing 22 pushups everyday for 22 days is daunting.) I posted a video of me doing my first set of 22 pushups on my Facebook page yesterday. It wasn’t pretty, but I got it done.

The #22PushupChallenge campaign is bringing awareness to the fact that 22 Veterans commit suicide everyday. Additionally, one active duty service member commits suicide everyday. This is truly an epidemic.

Anyone can make a donation to the cause by going to 22kill.com stopsoldiersuicide.org.  There are also a number of hashtags being used to promote the cause including #22pushupchallenge, #22pushupschallenge, #22kill and #Stop22aDay. Here’s a video that introduces the #22PushupsChallenge:

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