SHSMD 2010 Conference: Healthcare on the Winds of Change

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Karolynn Cionek reports from the SHSMD  trenches:

One could easily assume the theme of the annual AHA conference in Chicago was selected to address the changing role of the healthcare industry as it relates to the impending Health Reform.

However, as I delved into workshops and chatted with fellow attendees, it quickly became apparent that the underlying current was addressing change as it relates to the communications landscape.

After decades of media stasis, the online arena has fundamentally changed how we communicate with our consumers.  

Traditional, offline strategies relied heavily on interruption and coercion to push information out to the masses. Now, consumers are expecting marketers to pull rather than push by delivering useful content at the precise moment they need it.

A 2009 Pew survey reported 61 percent of American adults look online for health information. Thomas McCormally of Cincinnati Children’s, led the Storytelling and Multi-media workshop to further explain that, of those online, 59 percent have done at least one of the following activities:

  • Read someone else’s commentary or experience about health or medical issues on an online news group, website, or blog
  • Consulted rankings or reviews online of doctors or other providers
  • Consulted rankings or reviews online of hospitals or other medical facilities
  • Signed up to receive updates about health or medical issues
  • Listened to a podcast about health or medical issues

The Web has become a trusted source for people trying to make a decision or solve a problem – particularly when it comes to healthcare.

That last sentence is key to understanding what exactly changed in the communications landscape: trust. Disruption is being replaced by engagement, persuasion by influence of trusted sources.  

With millions of one-way, seller-spun advertisements bombarding us on a daily basis, even in healthcare, we eventually became numb to the noise. We quickly tired of being sold, turned off and stopped trusting advertising.

With advancements in online technology, marketers have a new opportunity to connect to consumers. Rather than drilling down messages into the lowest-common denominator, you can now interact, inform, educate and provide details that were lacking in the broad reaching techniques of yesterday.

While traditional offline outlets remain vital aspects of an overall marketing campaign, the change comes in acknowledging the new consumer wants more substance. They expect a dialogue.

 As a marketer how are you adapting to this new environment?

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One Response to “SHSMD 2010 Conference: Healthcare on the Winds of Change”

  1. From Ps to Rs; a shift in consumer expectation « The Adams Group Blog Says:

    […] dissecting my notes from the SHSMD conference in Chicago, building from my thoughts on the theme as well as the overview of its content, I’ve realized that my reporting on the marketing […]

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