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Posts Tagged ‘digital physician relations’

On April 7, I had the honor of delivering the opening keynote at the 2017 Western New England Healthcare Marketing Summit. Within a few days we will have videos of each of the presentations from the Summit available on the WNEHMS landing page. Until then, I thought I would share the video of my presentation in this forum. My topic was physician relations and digital physician marketing. The video below contains all 49 minutes of my talk with only a few minor edits. If you’re interested in the potential for using digital platforms to reach referring physicians, I hope you’ll carve out the time to watch this video. Enjoy!

 

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If you’re on Twitter tomorrow, my team and I, along with many others, will be Tweeting from the Western New England Healthcare Marketing Symposium in Northampton, Massachusetts. The hashtag for the event is #HCMSymposium; please follow along. If you’re in New England, please consider joining us. With our expanded space this year, the event has not yet sold out!

At 9:30am Eastern, I’ll be sharing my vision for how hospitals and health systems should integrate digital communication tools into physician relations programs. I’ll review case studies from Tufts Medical Center, Cooper University Health Care, and MD Anderson Cancer Center. Each of these organizations used a unique blend of tactics to engage referring physicians through the use of digital tools and platforms. Interestingly, the approaches varied significantly and there are things to learn from each example. As always, I’ll share the good, the bad and the ugly.

The speakers for the event are all top notch and I love the range of topics we’ll be covering – from physician relations to persona development to brand journalism to content marketing with video. If it is anything like last year’s Symposium, it will be a great day of learning for all of us. Here’s the speaker lineup:

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For the last year I’ve been going around the country, presenting at conferences, sharing my perspective on the future of physician relations. Below is the draft of an article I wrote recently that captures some of those views. (This is much longer than most blog posts because it was written as an article for an industry publication.)

The Digital Future of Physician Relations

The digital future of physician marketing is upon us. It hasn’t washed over our industry like a tsunami; rather, it has been a gradual evolution that has followed the slow but steady adoption of health information technology and digital communication tools by physicians. The emergence of the social or digital physician has been documented by numerous studies from organizations such as Manhattan Research, QuantiaMD, and ZocDoc, and written about in peer review publications including the Journal of Medical Internet Research (JMIR) and the Journal of the American Medical Informatics Association (JAMIA).

It is now evident that physicians find value in interacting with other physicians via social platforms. Physician-only online communities like Doximity, QuantiaMD, Sermo and Medscape Physician Connect have become the leading digital gathering places for doctors seeking professional camaraderie, support and guidance. Within these online communities physicians can securely collaborate on diagnoses and patient treatment. Currently, one of these online communities, Doximity, has a membership that is so vast it includes one in three U.S. physicians.

Once it became apparent that physicians are gravitating toward digital platforms, it was only a matter of time before healthcare communicators and strategists recognized the opportunity presented by digital physician marketing.

Step One: Adoption of Digital Communication Tools for Physician Marketing

Many healthcare organizations, hospitals and health systems have taken the first step into the realm of digital physician marketing. This involved the integration of digital tools into the overall physician marketing program. The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center was an early adopter when it launched its www.physicianrelations.com portal for referring physicians. This was just the beginning of its initial foray into digital marketing. Next it added a Twitter feed specifically targeting community physicians, a paper.li daily electronic newspaper that aggregated MD Anderson Faculty Tweets, and a Facebook page with oncology resources for health care professionals.

Other organizations like Tufts Medical Center would follow MD Anderson’s lead. Tufts Medical Center has introduced its www.TuftsMedicalCenter.tv website – a video repository and resource center for referring physicians and consumers. On the site, specialists and subspecialists speak to specific health conditions, medical procedures and therapies. For the busy community physician, the videos are easily accessible and a convenient resource when considering a potential patient referral. Tufts Medical Center and Floating Hospital for Children have launched a referring physician microsite designed to simplify the referral process for the physician and allow for a better patient experience. The physician microsite gives referring physicans up-to-date quality information, contact information for the physician liaison team and access to a number of helpful documents that can be downloaded as PDFs. The downloads include a quality brochure, patient brochures, talking points for physicians making a referral, directions to the medical center, and profiles of specialists.

Similarly, Signature Healthcare in southeastern Massachusetts, about 20 miles south of Boston, has launched its own digital platform designed to reach referring physicians. The microsite (SignatureMDExcellence.com), part of a broader physician marketing program, has proven to be a valuable tool for physician retention and recruitment – two important considerations in the highly competitive eastern Massachusetts healthcare environment. Online videos of Signature Healthcare’s employed physicians are showcased on the microsite and leveraged across a number of digital platforms including YouTube, Facebook, Google+ (often ignored by marketers), and Pinterest.

Finally, Cooper University Health Care successfully integrated digital tools into its physician relations program when it created the South Jersey Medical Report. The Report is a full physician marketing program targeting employed and community physicians. Elements of the program include a physician microsite rich with video content featuring Cooper specialists, a dedicated physician Twitter feed, a traditional physician newsletter available as a paper document and electronically, and a mobile application.

Healthcare organizations like Cooper University Health Care, Signature Healthcare, Tufts Medical Center and MD Anderson dipped their toes in the digital communication pool when they integrated these digital tools into their overall physician marketing programs. However, for these organizations and others, there looms an important question regarding how the digital age will impact the structure and function of the physician relations department.

Step Two: Defining Digital Roles within Physician Relations

The physician relations department has always been an aggregator of content relevant to the referring physician. Typically that content, once gathered, was distributed to medical professionals and practice administrators by way of newsletters and collateral material handed out during practice visits. Today, how does the availability of, and the need to distribute, large quantities of digital content impact the function of the physician relations team and, specifically, the physician liaison? One of the challenges facing physician relations departments in the current health care environment is how to handle this abundance of content and the addition of these new digital communication channels, often with fewer financial resources and a reduction in FTEs.

The Digital Content Marketer

In response to these challenges and opportunities, the roles within the physician relations department may need to evolve or change. One new position that seems likely to develop is that of the digital physician relations content marketer. This individual would be the point person within the department responsible for aggregating digital content and for disseminating it across numerous digital channels. Content would be aggregated on a primary platform developed specifically to meet the needs of community physicians. That could be a microsite, the “for medical professionals” section of the organization’s website, a LinkedIn Group or a blog. By continually updating the content, the information would be attractive to search engines and improve rankings.

The digital content marketer could also manage the department’s daily digital outreach to physicians and practices. This would involve using electronic marketing and social media (Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn and others) to post links to specific pieces of content that referring physicians may value. Of course, the digital content marketer will also have to monitor social channels and respond to Retweets and questions from followers. Active listening would an important part of this job, noting and then responding to requests from physicians and practice managers.

The Digital Physician Relations Specialist

It is likely that the physician liaison’s role will need to evolve as well. Although many physicians are now comfortable with digital communication tools, many are not. We are now only part of the way through this transformative process. This means there exists a significant opportunity to educate community physicians, clinicians and employees of the practice about ways to access information about the medical center via digital channels. An important part of the liaison’s role moving forward will likely involve using practice visits to familiarize these individuals with the digital platforms being used by the healthcare organization and acquainting them with the range of information available.

Another potential future role for the physician liaison involves them becoming digital physician relations specialists. This would significantly expand the reach of the liaison by adding digital communication to their role. Today, liaisons are limited in the number of practices they can visit in a day. However, with the help of social media, they can freely disseminate information about their organizations and reach out to practices far and wide, no longer encumbered by the obstacles of geography and time.

For the digital physician specialist, in addition to the traditional functions of a liaison, a portion of each day would be spent using social media to post content linking back to the organization’s digital hub (website, blog, microsite, etc). They would Retweet information shared by “faculty tweeters” and direct community physicians to the organization’s online resources for referring physicians.

Is It Time for Digital Physician Relations?

The question is no longer about the relevance of digital physician relations. Rather, the question today is whether your organization is going to embrace it now and get ahead of the curve, or play catch-up on the back end. Digital adoption among physicians will continue to grow. They will increasingly turn to digital communication to reach out to other physicians and to help them do their jobs more efficiently and effectively. They will actively look for trusted online resources that meet their professional needs. For medical centers and health systems looking to engage community physicians, these digital platforms are the next frontier. It is within the digital space, as a new feature of the physician relations program, that the hearts and minds of the new “digital doctors” may be won or lost. Effective communication requires that the information be delivered in a manner that fits within the context of the end-user’s professional life. As physicians’ appetite for digital information grows, so too must our digital mark

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A couple of weeks ago I had the honor of presenting at the annual conference of the American Association of Physician Liaisons (AAPL) in Seattle. I shared with them my well-reasoned rant about the digital future of physician relations. Below is a 20-minute excerpt from that presentation. There are about 15 minutes of me presenting and then about 5 minutes of me responding to questions from the audience. Given the fact that I was the last presenter before the cocktail reception, I was pleased to see that the audience hung around to the very end, and even took the time to ask a number of thoughtful questions. This was a good group. Enjoy.

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Screen Shot 2014-06-16 at 8.08.40 PMTomorrow I will be blogging and Tweeting live from the 2014 Conference of the American Association of Physician Liaisons. This year’s conference is taking place in one of my favorite cities – Seattle! To learn more about the conference, go to www.physicianliaison.com. I deliver my keynote at 4:15pm (Pacific Time) on Wednesday, the first day of the conference. Immediately following my presentation is a cocktail reception! I’ll be speaking about the importance of integrating digital media into physician relations program. This will be an extension of the digital physician relations rant that I’ve been on for the last year. This presentation should be a lot of fun because physician liaisons that I work with from Tufts Medical Center and MD Anderson Cancer Center will be in attendance.

While I’m on the plane today flying out to Seattle I plan to spend a lot of time tightening up my presentation. I only have 45 minutes to present, and I’ve got enough content to fill twice that much time. My mantra will need to be: less is more. I want to leave them with a short and impactful presentation.

If you’re in Seattle attending the conference, please come by and say hello.

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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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Last week, Lyle Green and I presented together at the 2014 Healthcare Marketing & Physician Strategies Summit. We shared our vision for the future of physician relations: Digital Physician Relations. The presentation was based on work we are doing together at MD Anderson Cancer Center as well as an article we co-authored last year for eHealthcare Strategy & Trends magazine.

Below is an edited version of our presentation, cut down to 50 minutes. The original presentation was about 80 minutes. Enjoy!

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