Archive for November, 2009

CHPRMS Recap – Day 3

November 21, 2009
First, congrats to the Regional Medical Center and Lake Norman Regional for winning Wallie & Golden Tusk awards last night!  Love to see everyone dressed all snazzy to celebrate great healthcare marketing.
So after sausage biscuits hit the spot this morning, we shared the final session on physician relations with speaker Carolyn Merriman.  Some tidbits:
  • Physician relations is the No. 1 thing that keeps hospital CEOs up at night, yet but hospitals don’t even make the Top 10 for docs.
  • There’s no quick fix for referral patterns – selling cycles can take up to 24 months for an inpatient stay.
  • Hospitals need a strategy, model and staffing structure to make the most of physician relations.  Most don’t have all three.
  • Many hospitals don’t train reps in the “physician as customer” mentality.
  • The national norm is to have a physician liaision in the field about 62% of the time.
  • 64% of hospitals don’t do incentive-based pay for reps because they can’t figure out the best formula.

How does your organization compare?

Asheville’s crisp, mountain air always seems to provide some fresh perspectives – this year on social media, patient experience, internal communications, physician relations and many more. 

My favorite takeaway: If it ain’t working, try the opposite.  I heard it in one breakout session, but I think it applies across so many lessons from this conference.  If corporate speak isn’t moving the needle, try being genuine.  If regular employee channels aren’t generating results, go for novel ones.  If traditional hospital models don’t impact patient experience enough,  re-imagine them.  Kinda powerful.  Already thinking of where to apply that first…

CHPRMS Recap – Day 2

November 19, 2009

Today’s session included a lively panel discussion on healthcare reform followed by a masterclass on patient experience by Henry Ford Healthcare in Michigan. The CEO of their new hospital, a former international hotelier,  is truly visionary.  The entire focus of the facility is being a center for community wellness, not a place for disease (something we’re passionate about as well).

Some interesting points:  

  • Henry Ford set up warehouse of the new hospital & staff walked through to test linens, feng shui of rooms, etc.
  • The mission for hospital was boiled down to 10 words: to take health and healing beyond the boundaries of imagination.
  • Hospital execs took a page from the book Blue Ocean Strategies: be so unique you make competitors irrelevant.
  • They hired people on talent and passion in order to build an emotionally engaged workforce. ( Turnover is 8%)

Novant Health led a great session on employee communications.  Their premise (borrowed from George Costanza of Seinfeld): If it ain’t working, do the opposite.

A few creative ideas presented:

  • Change computer wallpaper and screen savers system-wide to support your campaign.
  • Look for unused real estate – anywhere – to communicate messages.  They used cafeteria tray liners, employee parking gate signs, bathroom stall signs and life-sized cardboard cutouts that popped up & moved around the hospital for a viral aspect.
  • Novant created a website for any hospital to share the same campaign with its own staff – free.
  • They collected those amazing stories of patient care that inspire everyone and created a coffee table book, microsite, blog and many other internal communications.

What internal communications have worked best for you?  How does you organization focus on patient experience?

Tonight, we’ll find out the winners for best healthcare marketing in the Carolinas, and tomorrow will focus on physician relations.  Check back tomorrow for the final update or follow live posts on Twitter via @mspeir or #chprms.


CHPRMS Recap – Day 1

November 19, 2009

Is it ironic that within a century-old hotel, there’s so much discussion of new media?  The Carolinas Healthcare PR and Marketing Society (CHPRMS) annual conference kicked off today at the Grove Park Inn in Asheville, NC.  Steve Crescenzo led a two-part track on social media followed by a panel discussion on the same.  So many different opinions created a great dialogue – like social media itself!

Some things we discussed:

  • Some said most healthcare companies are first wading into social media internally – working out kinks, then moving into external channels.  Others said the data isn’t there to show intranets work at all, so external channels are the place to start. 
  • There are three internets for social media: research, social and multimedia. 
  • You can’t just have a social media plan; it must be integrated into an overall communications plan.
  • Sounds basic, but we heard over and over about making social media conversational, engaging and authentic.  There are still too many examples of overly-cautious, heavily-lawyered corporate speak that goes nowhere. 
  • Crisis communications via social media are much more effective when audiences are already comfortable with you in that space.

What do you think?  What’s most effective for you?  Share you input with us here, or shout out on Twitter via @mspeir or #chprms.

Day 2 will address healthcare reform, then patient experience with the folks at Henry Ford Hospital.

Quality Care As Viewed By Consumers

November 16, 2009

A constant frustration in hospitals is how consumers define “quality care.”  When you talk with caregivers, they believe their focus should be on clinical issues.  After all, a patient enters a hospital for treatment, right? 

While I can’t disagree with caregivers’ priority here, I also know it isn’t that simple when dealing with consumers – if you want them to come back.

In our recent Pulse360 survey, we asked insured women across the Southeast what the term “high quality care” in a hospital meant to them.  In the open-ended question, 18 percent  defined high quality care as courteous, personable doctors and staff while 8.4 percent  said accurate care and diagnosis.  That’s over twice as many choosing the softer side of care. 

Another 13.2 percent defined high quality care as state of the art technology and cleanliness.

To probe further, we asked them to choose between specific statements in defining “high quality care.”  28.3 percent still chose personal interactions  over correct diagnosis and treatment.

We’ve seen this same response in other research we’ve conducted, even in the ER.  When consumers talk about quality ER care, they talk about their desire for better communication and feeling that they are important to ER staff.

Why would anyone choose personal care over competent care?  It’s obviously not because they don’t want the competent care.  I think it’s because of two things: one, they expect the correct care – after all, that is why they go to the hospital.  But, they expect competent clinical care anywhere they go, otherwise, they wouldn’t go.  And anyway, how does a patient really know that she is getting competent care at the time of treatment? 

Secondly, they easily understand how to judge personal care.  They see it every day, everywhere they go.  Why wouldn’t they expect the same personal and courteous attention at their hospital that they find at Disney or Nordstrom? 

That’s how they are conditioned.  And, that’s how we’ve got to connect with them.

Dear Social Media Fan: Don’t Talk, Just Listen

November 12, 2009

While Facebooking yesterday, I remembered there’s a reason one-way friendships rarely last.  The friend who always calls the other and listens patiently usually loses interest when he or she doesn’t feel the relationship is reciprocal anymore.  (And does the other friend ever figure that out?)

I’m a FB fan of some great healthcare organizations.  I check in often to see what they’re up to, and they always fill me in on their latest news.  I love to hear it and comment to find out more.  But some groups don’t allow fans to post comments.  There seems to be little or no real dialogue.

It reminds me of folks on Twitter who follow you, but then block their own updates until they approve you.  It’s like a virtual “talk to the hand.”

Isn’t that missing the point of social media?  Isn’t it about sharing and connecting with people more than ever before?

One-way relationships lead me to think the organization doesn’t really care about its fans – or they’re trying to control the conversation – or both.

Hopefully, that’s not the case.  No one wants to push off the same relationships they’re trying to build.  Sure, there’s always risk in opening up, but aren’t the rewards worth it?



Hospitals: Centers for Disease or Centers for Life?

November 9, 2009

In our most recent Pulse360 survey of insured women across the southeast, only one in five recognized their local hospital as the leader for health and wellness in their community.

What’s that about?

Hospitals are the driving force behind the health of any community, so why aren’t they recognized as such? And, why do the American Cancer Society, American Heart Association and even fitness centers score better as leaders in health and wellness locally?

To begin with, it’s because all too many hospitals have let themselves be perceived as centers for disease rather than centers for life. Also, the non-profits have done a better job of promoting themselves and their educational activities.

I think one key to the future of hospitals is to seize that mantle of leadership. A critical aspect of any future healthcare reform will be prevention. Why not be at the forefront of the effort?

A lot of hospitals think they are doing this with their education programs, but leadership is more than educating, it’s doing. Hospitals need to lead – drag, if necessary – their communities into launching programs to fight obesity, diabetes and the host of other life-threatening conditions.

Hospitals are about life. Every day they invest time, expertise and millions of dollars to improve the quality of life in their communities. Now it’s time to take it to the next level.

Technology Can Affect Hospital Choice

November 4, 2009

Hospitals often wrestle with how much emphasis to place on technology in their marketing efforts. Too much emphasis on technology and the advertising can be cold and impersonal.

Obviously, you don’t want your marketing to appear cold but technology is a barometer of competence for healthcare consumers. Our Pulse360 research has consistently found technology ranks behind only doctors and insurance in the choice of a hospital.

It’s difficult for consumers to get a handle on what constitutes quality treatment or even the competence of doctors. Technology gives them a tangible measure – such that if the hospital continually invests in advanced technology, it must be more competent.

We see it throughout our research. Acquisition of advanced imaging, daVinci robotic surgery, even the display of flat screen TVs throughout the hospital lead consumers to assume a hospital is more state-of-the-art and, therefore, more competent.

Our most recent Pulse360 survey showed another dimension to this. Advanced technology in a hospital made women feel much better about patient safety. In fact, it made them feel a lot safer than a high score from HealthGrades.

Since technology in a hospital translates to competence as well as confidence in the mind of the consumer, hospitals obviously need to promote it. Just don’t pop in a visual showing only a machine. People connect better when they understand benefits and outcomes, and can see them in the advertising.

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