I am continually impressed by the way dentists market themselves. I’ve written about it in the past. They are almost as good as veterinarians. (I’m being serious.) My stepdaughter had a dental appointment the other day. At the pediatric dental practice, they distribute coaster-sized card encouraging patients to share their positive experience by way of a Google Review. See the graphic below. Here’s the point: If you’re going to have to battle (and live with) negative online reviews, you had better push positive reviews to the web. Let the positive reviews diminish the value and relevance of those few negative reviews. Dentists have learned how to play the game! And the game is online reputation management while leveraging the power of brand ambassadors. (This practice also has its own blog, “Tooth Chatter.”

Dentist Review Coaster

The link on their website takes you to their Google+ page, where you are invited to submit your review. Below is a snapshot of some of the reviews that have been generated:

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I’m excited to share this information with you about the New England Society for Healthcare Communication’s Marketing After Hours, April 8, 2015. If you work in the Boston area, this is an event worth attending. The speaker, Karen Corrigan, is a friend and colleague. She will do an amazing job.

Wednesday, April 8
From 5:30-8:30 pm
Inn at Longwood
342 Longwood Ave

Are Healthcare Consumers Patients or Customers?

The Impact of Retail on Healthcare Delivery
Join us for NESHCo’s first Marketing After Hours session. We’ll gather for an evening of  networking, refreshments and a short “TED Talk” with Karen Corrigan of Corrigan Partners.The consumer experience is evolving and retailers are becoming more and more savvy about anticipating and meeting customer demands. As they innovate around on-line experiences, delivery, affinity programs and in countless other ways they are creating customers who expect high levels of service and personalization.

We’re living in not only a world where you can find any product, and probably get in delivered tomorrow, but where brands learn from your behavior and anticipate your needs. These customers are also our patients.This talk will focus on how the current consumer experience is impacting patient’s expectations of healthcare – and what we need to do as a result.Hold your spot for just $10. Hors d’oeuvres and a drink ticket included. Space is limited to register today. 

The digital home has arrived and homeowners can remotely monitor their home’s temperature and security; is there an equivalent for fitness and weight loss? By now we’ve all heard about the quantified self. In Mobile Health Design, one of the courses offered at Tufts University School of Medicine that is available through the Digital Health Communication certificate program or through the Summer Institute, Sandra Rosenbluth designed a smart mirror to track a person’s changing shape and bypass scales.

Screen Shot 2015-03-17 at 2.47.50 PMThe Certificate in Digital Health Communication at Tufts University School of Medicine covers health communication through a digital lens.  Students learn how to create targeted health communication messaging and full campaigns using the web, social media, and mobile technologies, as well as analyzing and learning from other campaigns (e.g., why the #ALSIceBucketChallenge went viral). Designed for working professionals, the certificate program can be completed on a part-time basis in one year with one week in Boston in July and all other courses offered online in the evening using WebEx. Graduate level courses include Social Media and Health, Health Literacy, Mobile Health Design, and more: go.tufts.edu/digitalhealthcommcert.

If a single course is of interest, the Summer Institute offers three courses:

  • Mobile Health Design (online), May 20 – June 17, 2015, 5:30 PM – 9:00 PM EST, Course Directors: Bradley Moore, MPH and Lisa Gualtieri, PhD, ScM. Mobile Health Design is an online course that examines the theoretical frameworks, best practices, and tools for designing mobile devices and apps for health.
  • Health Literacy Leadership Institute, June 8 – 12, 2015, Course Director: Sabrina Kurtz-Rossi, MEd. This one-week Institute is designed for professionals working in the field and students interested in improving health literacy in the United States and around the globe.
  • Digital Strategies for Health Communication, July 19 – July 24, 2015, Course Director: Lisa Gualtieri, PhD, ScM. This one-week course covers how to develop and implement a digital strategy to drive a health organization’s online presence, specifically the processes for selecting, using, managing, and evaluating the effectiveness of web, social media, and mobile technologies.

Learn more at go.tufts.edu/summerinstitute 

Certificate in Digital Health Communication

7th Tufts Summer Institute on Digital Strategies for Health Communication offered July 19-24, 2015

If you are on Twitter, you’ve seen companies and individuals who do this. All of the sudden your Twitter feed is filled up with six Tweets in a row from the same account. Here are a couple of examples to show you exactly what I’m talking about:

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I want to know what’s behind this strategy. Is this mindlessly pushing out several Tweets all at once? (We’ve collected all of this news today and now we’re going to share it.) Or is it a well-considered strategy for getting attention by carving out a distinct block of real estate in your followers’ Twitter streams? (By doing this, our Tweets won’t get lost.) I find it annoying, but would love to have insight into the thought process of the people and organizations who do this.

Of course the problem with this strategy, unless they share this same content multiple times in different dayparts, is that the only people who see this block of Tweets are the followers who are on Twitter at that very moment. And we all know that Twitter followers are like flocks of geese flying overhead in intervals throughout the day (and night). Much depends on the audience we’re targeting.

I am a firm believer in Tweeting out an important piece of information more than once. But this notion of Tweeting five or six messages at exactly the same time (meaning they were scheduled to go at that time, because you couldn’t do that manually) is beyond me.

What are your thoughts? I’d love to get a reality check from others in the know. Thanks for bearing with me!

photo-24 copyThis week I am reading an “oldie but goodie:” Michael Millenson’s Demanding Medical Excellence: Doctors and Accountability in the Information Age. I believe the text first came out in paperback on 1999. Why am I reading such an old book? Frankly, because for someone who reads a ton of books about healthcare, this is one I’ve never encountered. And fortunately, I met Michael recently thanks to a mutual friend (Jane Sarahsohn-Kahn) who connected us, believing we would have a lot in common. Indeed we do.

If you’re not familiar with Michael, early in his career, he was a healthcare reporter for the Chicago Tribune, where he was nominated three times for a Pulitzer Prize. Michael has lectured at the National Institutes of Health and the Harvard Business School and served as a faculty member for the Institute for Healthcare Improvement. He has written for publications ranging from the British Medical Journal and Health Affairs to The Washington Post and Forbes.com. Michael serves on the editorial board of the American Journal of Medical Quality and on advisory boards for the American Medical Group Foundation, the AHIMA Foundation, the Johns Hopkins’ Armstrong Institute for Patient Safety and Quality and several health care start-ups. If you’re curious, you can learn more about Michael at http://millenson.com.

I’m always excited to make a new connection and to find new books to read! From my early scanning of the book, it looks like Michael was ahead of his time. Accountability and transparency are still works in progress, nearly 20 years after Demanding Medical Excellence was first published. I look forward to spending more time with Michael’s book and may well write a review for the blog. Meanwhile, feel free to check it out on your own.

For many years now I have benefited professionally from my relationship with the Society for Healthcare Strategy and Market Development (SHSMD) of the American Hospital Association. I’ve attend the conferences, spoken at many of them, hosted roundtable, moderated sessions and currently volunteer by serving on the Digital Engagement Taskforce. SHSMD has played an important role in my professional development over the years.

Screen Shot 2015-03-17 at 9.30.24 AMRecently I’ve been receiving email messages from SHSMD with information about its Certificate Series: Essentials of Healthcare Marketing. You can sign up for individual courses, or you can register for all three courses ($675 for a member). Below is SHSMD’s information on the series which I lifted directly from one of their email messages:

Society for Healthcare Strategy and Market Development of the American Hospital Association

Register today for the upcoming Essentials of Healthcare Marketing Certificate Series, starting April 20. Take each course individually or save $75 by registering for parts 1-3! http://bit.ly/1wUeuW5

Part 1


Fees: $250 (member) | $325 (nonmember) | $450 (joining member)

Part 2


Fees: $250 (member) | $325 (nonmember) | $450 (joining member)

Part 3


Fees: $250 (member) | $325 (nonmember) | $450 (joining member)

Parts 1–3:


Fees: $675 (member) | $825 (nonmember) | $875 (joining member)

Visit http://bit.ly/1wUeuW5 for more information and to register.

Patient Experience

FocusGroupOften when I am moderating focus groups for hospital clients, I hear patients and former patients complain about the most basic things. In healthcare, we seem to forget that the patient experience starts at the beginning. That could be their experience on the hospital website or their first contact with an employee or volunteer when they walk in the front door. Sometimes that experience begins in the parking garage, minutes before they make it to the front door.

Think about it. When someone greets you warmly and puts a smile on your face, that experience has a way of impacting your entire day. It has a halo effect. It puts you in a good mood and you suddenly see things through positive filters. So why don’t we put more thought and energy into the way we welcome people as they arrive at our facilities?

Screen Shot 2015-03-16 at 9.32.39 PMI have a weekly meeting on the campus of Duke University. I park in one of the parking garages next to the medical center. This is a garage used by a wide variety of patients, including those visiting the Cancer Center. Each week as I pull up to the garage to get my ticket prior to parking, a smiling, boisterous woman greets me and has something positive to say. She is an employee who works at the parking deck, and her job, whether by her design or Duke’s, is to greet people driving into the facility. I don’t know if it is in her job description, but I am certain that her number one priority is to put a smile on the face of each person entering her garage that day. She always compliments me on my neck tie, and if its a Monday, she’ll ask me if I had a good weekend. Sometimes she even sings to all of us and spreads joy. That’s it. She spreads joy. It happens every time I see her.

So how do you think that impacts the patient experience? Imagine people feeling scared and intimidated as they approach this large medical center – the kind of place people go when they are really sick, maybe facing a terminal illness. And think about what it means to them to be greeted with such warmth. I don’t know what they pay that lady at the parking deck, but it is not enough. She is a brand ambassador without equal. Later in the day, as the patient and his or her family members move from one medical appointment to another, that wonderful lady who put a smile on their faces may not be top-of-mind, but I guarantee you that they have a warm feeling about Duke Medicine.

Compare that to the many hospitals I visit where I have trouble getting the employee or volunteer behind the front desk to even acknowledge me. When they do acknowledge me, they often look as if I have interrupted them from something far more important.

I don’t want to over simplify patient experience design. Everything can be perfect and if we fail with patient transport at discharge, that may well be the thing they remember. But one thing we can control, and get right, is the way we welcome patients and family members into our hospitals and outpatient facilities. We can put our best foot forward every time. The idea of a warm greeting should be institutionalized! It should be part of the culture.


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