Posts Tagged ‘physician marketing’

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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For some time now I have been on the video bandwagon. Video is the ideal platform for effective, authentic storytelling. As I said in a recent article in eHealthcare Strategy & Trends (February 2013):

There exists a clear opportunity within the healthcare industry to more effectively engage consumers online using video. As Marie Gross of Signature Healthcare points out, the move to well-crafted physician videos is a necessary reaction to the changing appetite of consumers, who want to know more about their healthcare providers. “We believe that the physician videos we’re producing help us to capture and retain the consumers’ interest while responding to their need for a greater depth of information about their potential healthcare provider,” Gross says. Recognizing this opportunity, production companies such as WebOuts and On-Site Studios are developing solutions that make it easier for marketers to produce professional-quality videos at a reasonable cost. The convergence of these factors will undoubtedly lead to more experimentation with video as a physician marketing tool.

Here’s a video of Marie Gross, speaking to the power of physician video.

Here are a few physician videos that we just completed. They are part of a much larger series of physician videos that we’ve produced for Signature Healthcare and Signature Medical Group. I’m am extremely proud of the way in which we represent these physicians, capturing their personalities and their humanity. Believe me when I tell you that they don’t show up for the interview relaxed and ready to tell their stories. My team is extremely skilled and experienced at getting the most out of our encounter with each physician.


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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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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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IMG_6488I spent three days this week in Massachusetts filming patient stories and conducting clinician interviews on video (physicians and physician extenders). This aspect of my job is always a lot of fun. I enjoy the challenge inherent in conducting on-camera interviews: Helping the personal being interviewed to relax, overcome their fear, and forget about the cameras. A good interview should be a conversation. It is my opinion that if you’re simply reading from a list of questions, you are not conducting an engaging interview. And you won’t be helping to relax the person you’re interviewing.

One of my biases is that the interviewer, when interviewing clinicians, should be well-versed in various aspects of medicine and healthcare. This type of background lends itself to a better interview. A couple days ago I was interviewed a GYN surgeon who specializes in minimally invasive surgeries. She didn’t volunteer information about the benefits of minimally invasive hysterectomies; but because of my experience in the industry, I knew to take the interview in that direction. It is a small example, but when you’re interviewing a large number of physicians from various specialties and subspecialties, it pays to be nimble and knowledgeable.

I go into interviews with a well crafted list of questions (not your standard questions about medical school, etc.) but I rarely refer to the list. My goal is always to strike up a conversation with the clinician or patient and cover my questions throughout the course of the conversation. At the end of the interview I’ll glance at my list to see if there’s anything we missed. By the end of the interview the subject is definitely more comfortable, so I’ll go back and have him or her revisit some of the things we discussed early on. I’ll also have the subject introduce himself once again. It’s unfortunate that the introduction is usually the first thing we film, and the first thing someone sees when viewing a video, yet it takes place when the subject is the least comfortable and the most nervous. It is something to keep in mind.

Below are some patient and clinician photos from this week’s shoot in Massachusetts. These photos were taken with my iPhone during the shoot. Enjoy!



And here are a couple of crew photos:


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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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Screen Shot 2013-11-03 at 5.40.55 PMFor the last couple years I’ve been talking about the importance of developing online content that has real value for the target audience. In this day of the connected consumer, they decide what they watch, when they watch it, and on what kind of device. The consumer is in the driving seat. If we want to engage and inform them, we must develop content that interests them. The same old static web content won’t do the job. To that end, I’ve been pushing for hospitals to start using more video content on their digital platforms!

I rarely feature my firm’s services through my blog, other than perhaps by giving the occasional look at the finished product. My goal with this blog is usually to simply share developments within healthcare marketing. But today I am openly sharing information about a service that my firm offers that I feel is of value to healthcare organizations. Today, my company announced the launch of Physicians In Focus, a new business unit that specializes in the production of high quality physician videos. Please check out the introductory video that we’ve produced. It has footage of physicians and hospital administrators talking about the power of physician video:

Below is some of the language from the press release announcing this new endeavor:

Physicians in Focus will be dedicated to the development of engaging physician marketing programs and online video content that meet the expectations of today’s connected consumer. In addition to prospective patients and family members, campaigns will also target referring physicians who are gradually integrating digital communication into their daily routines.

“The simple truth is that patient care is delivered by physicians and health care providers, not by hospitals, buildings or health systems. Through the use of well-crafted physician videos, patients and family members can learn more about the person who will care for them. Patients will be able to assess the likelihood they will relate well to the physician, be comfortable sharing their life stories and working together to improve their health,” said Dan Dunlop, Jennings Principal.

Selecting a physician is one of the most important decisions an individual makes. For those facing serious illness, this is the individual who will guide them through their treatment and the ensuing journey to good health. Physicians in Focus will give hospitals and health systems a more meaningful way to introduce consumers to their physicians through online video segments. In general, video content is far more effective at capturing the attention of prospective patients and in conveying the personality and demeanor of a given physician.

Jennings developed Physicians in Focus to address a number of challenges currently facing hospital marketing and physician relations departments. The service will help hospitals and health systems to:

  • Attract new patients through the development of engaging online physician videos. These videos are typically leveraged across a number of digital platforms including hospital websites, YouTube, Google+ and Facebook.
  • Assist prospective patients and their families to select physicians with whom they relate by viewing introductory videos of the physicians.
  • Engage community physicians and introduce them to the hospital’s leading specialists by way of online video.
  • Inform community physicians of new procedures, treatments and research that can be accessed through the hospital or medical center.
  • Attract new physicians to their medical staff by portraying the hospital as a physician-friendly organization as evidenced by the way it actively markets its physicians.
  • Aid in physician retention efforts by demonstrating the organization’s willingness to promote this valuable asset.
  • Enrich the hospital’s digital footprint and improve search engine rankings through the addition of meaningful video content.

Here’s the call-to-action: For more information about Jennings’ Physicians in Focus, please contact Dan Dunlop at 919-929-0225 or email him at ddunlop@jenningsco.com. To learn more about Physicians in Focus, go to physiciansinfocus.com.

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