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Monthly Archives: December 2017

12 must-knows if you’re new to health care marketing

Welcome to health care marketing. You’ve had a marketing career in other categories, but may have recently chosen to honor the call of bringing your expertise to the hospital or health care provider sector. Thank you. Our industry is going through massive change and we need massive talent to see our way through this challenging times.

But I won’t lie. Your transition won’t be easy. Health care is a culture unto itself. If you’ve read Franklin Street’s other blogs and resources, you know we’re straight shooters. So consider this post our own on boarding into the world of health care marketing and branding. I can’t tell you everything you’ll need to know in one post, but this should serve as a good primer.

Here goes.

Get used to consensus-building.

Health care is consensus-driven. Maybe it’s because it’s also a risk-adverse category. (Go figure: people want to tread lightly when dealing with life and death.) So the amount of meetings you’ll have on a daily basis will quadruple. So will the number of emails in your in box. You’ll spend as much time letting stakeholders know what you’re up to as you do the things you want everyone to know about and support you in doing. Do your best to preserve your calendar, but know now you’ll need to multi-task as you run from one meeting to the next.

Get the jargon down.

Health care folks love their acronyms. Start carrying around a cheat sheet of health care jargon like ACA, ACO, PHO, CIN, STARK, and HIPAA. Soon these strings of oblique letters will roll of your tongue. But not without memorization and practice, practice, practice.

Set boundaries with decision-makers.

Going back to the consensus-driven culture in health care, you’ll want to bring stakeholders along with your marketing plans, but not give any individual or group too much power to dictate your direction — because they will take over if you’re not careful. In every business category you’ll find people who are not marketing-trained but think they can do marketing. But this is especially true in health care, where marketing is often considered the last rung of the proverbial food chain. As a consequence, nurses, volunteers, rad techs and board members will all have their ideas on what ads you should run, or how to combat the competition’s newest brand campaign. But, it’s the doctors you’ll want to set the most boundaries. Which leads me to the next point.

Doctors may know their patients, but you know consumers.

You’ll want your physicians to be on board with your marketing, but give them an inch and they’ll end up re-writing every ad and TV spot you share with them. We like to host Discovery Sessions with key physician stakeholders at the start of new campaigns. These are opportunities to build consensus and set boundaries for key decisions. Give your physicians a sounding board to share ideas and concerns, and give them a narrow platform to make decisions — whether it be choosing a campaign direction after you’ve honed in on several approaches you like, or simply reviewing the copy deck only for technical inaccuracies.

FREE DOWNLOAD: How to manage online patient feedback and brand reputation

Knowing the difference between doing mission work and doing the work to keep the mission going.

Ultimately, your job is to increase new patient acquisition so your hospital can continue its mission of serving the health care needs of the communities it serves. You do this by targeting those prospective patients who have choice in the marketplace where they go for health care, and are profitable for your organization’s bottom line. This is true of both for-profit and non-profit organizations. A health care marketer’s job is to focus on the outliers — the small percentage of hospital admissions that keep a hospital in the black, as the majority will show up to your emergency room, doctor’s office or inpatient bed through traditional patient flow patterns: physician referrals, etc. By focusing on the outliers — that small but mighty percentage of patients who have choice, along with physicians who serve as gatekeepers into your health care organization — you can help your organization continue its mission.

Not all key service lines are ready for marketing.

Don’t be surprised when you’re asked (told) to market services that aren’t ready to be marketed. Too often in health care, marketers are looked at as the ones to put lipstick on pigs. Your job is to change that attitude within your organization. This could mean surveying patient satisfaction within service lines and identifying the customer service changes that need to be made. It can also mean working with service line directors to identify “brand experience” opportunities — those often small but memorable moments that help to make patients feel like they made the right choice in selecting your brand. Understandably, if you wait until a service line is “perfect,” you may never have any services to market. But you get to begin changing the attitudes within your organization to see marketing as integral to the operations of key service lines, and that a patient’s experience plays as much of a role in driving market share than any world class “ad campaign” you might be asked to develop.

Demand data.

It’s remarkable to us at Franklin Street how many hospitals don’t know where they make their money. You might be marveling at the same thing in your new health care organization. At a minimum, you should expect to have the research that shows where you’re gaining patients, where you’re losing patients, and what the average patient brings to your organization from a revenue perspective. Though long-term brand equity transcends year to year return on investment numbers, you’d never want to spend a million dollars to attract only a half a million in new net patient revenue. It may take longer than you’d like (or it should), but get the data you need to make intelligent marketing decisions on behalf of your health care organization.

Realign job responsibilities.

Health care reform is changing the role of the health care marketer, along with social media and the rise of the digitally connected patient. Chances are, your department’s current org chart is a little out-of-date. Take this time to realign the skill sets of your current reports with the skills needed to compete in the modern era of health care marketing. This will mean more strengths in data analysis, digital marketing, physician marketing, content development, and social media. Depending on your FTE and PTE numbers, you may require your reports to wear several hats. But overall, look for staff members who can think strategically about their role in the organization and see how their unique contributions are aligned with the overarching strategies you put into place in the marketing department.

Set expectations on the number of key service lines to market in a given year.

Most hospitals can’t say no to service lines. This puts the health care marketer in a tough spot of not having enough budget to market service lines effectively. In our experience, the average hospital only has enough funding to properly marketing two to three key service lines in a given year, with the balance of resources going to market other, smaller service lines with low cost tactics.

We use SHSMD’s formula for determining the average hospital marketing budget. You can view this formula on our website.

Get your core marketing platforms in place within the first 90 days.

You know the old phrase, Don’t run before you learn how to walk? You may have this experience at your new health care organization, in which you’re asked to develop complex marketing strategies before the core platforms are put into place to help your marketing campaigns succeed.

What are those platforms? For us at Franklin Street, we like to see the following in place for any hospital, regardless of size or stature in the market:

  • A call center that can connect prospective patients to physicians for referral and for departments for scheduling procedures
  • An email marketing database to nurture prospective patients and over time convert them into patients
  • A website with capabilities to create landing pages that drive new patient acquisition from search and display marketing campaigns (along with the analytics to track activity)
  • An established brand positioning that is simple, unique, and compelling to prospective patients

Your hospital’s website is the marketer’s first line of opportunity. 

As a marketer, there are many things you aren’t able to control in establishing a positive first encounter among your prospective patients. But you should have control over your hospital’s website. And your hospital’s website is the number one tool for attracting and converting patients. In addition to responsive design so that mobile and tablet users have an optimum experience, (over 50 percent of your site’s users will come from one of those devices), you’ll want to reinforce your brand positioning on the site, and provide Calls to Action to encourage prospective patients to “opt-in” to learn more, find a physician, attend an event, etc.

Brand is reinforced in all you do.

You may or may not have funding to develop stand-alone branding campaigns, but your brand should be clearly defined and reinforced in everything you do. Your brand positioning sets the tone for your messages, the voice and attitude of your communications, and in general, personifies your hospital. We love defining brand as a shortcut to a sale, and whether or not you have the option of executing brand campaigns, every campaign you do execute should reinforce your organization’s brand.

This list is by no means exhaustive, but we hope you find it a good starting point on your new health care marketing journey. This blog originally appeared here.

Use these video tactics to market your health insurance offerings

By 2019, 80 percent of all Internet traffic will be devoted to video. Adweek has proclaimed online video the “future of content marketing.” Although many health care marketers are already onboard with this powerful marketing trend, others are still hesitating—and missing out on opportunities to reach prospects and engage members.

We’ve identified seven areas where health insurers can benefit from use of video content in their marketing strategies:

1. Highlight products and benefits

Health care marketers should use video to educate members and prospects about detailed products, unique benefits and essential services. To show how insurers’ plans are a good fit for members and prospects, video can offer website tours, promote mobile apps and highlight member discounts and perks. In addition, video can help explain—and simplify—more complex features like medical savings accounts.

For example, when Uber and UPMC teamed up during open enrollment for a promotion to raise awareness about distracted driving, they offered free rides for members. The health insurer used video to announce the promotion and explain how to take advantage of the perk:

2. Improve consumers’ health literacy

Many common insurance terms are difficult to understand. For those not familiar with industry jargon, these phrases can sound like a foreign language. Since video makes educational material easier to digest, it’s a great way to explain subsidies and EOB statements, demonstrate how an HSA works or walk a member through Medicare 101.

In this video series, for example, Highmark teaches consumers about the basics—or ABCs—of Medicare:

3. Address health care challenges

There is no shortage of health care challenges facing consumers today. From costs and access to care to health crises and epidemics, members are turning to insurers for answers and support. Because some content may be sensitive in nature, video offers an approachable way to respond, while communicating key brand positioning and messaging on topics that really matter to members and communities.

Here, Aetna President Karen S. Lynch uses video to discuss the country’s opioid epidemic. In doing so, she is able to highlight Aetna’s behavioral health business and talk about substance abuse care as a top priority for Aetna:

FREE DOWNLOAD: How to manage online patient feedback and brand reputation

4. Promote wellness

Health and wellness programs play an integral role in members’ physical, mental and emotional well-being, but getting them engaged and keeping them motivated in such programs can be difficult. Video makes it easy to share healthy eating and fitness tips, cooking instructions and training schedules. It’s a compelling tool for communicating key messages, advocating for adoption of healthy habits, teaching best practices and inviting members to participate in wellness programs.

Blue Cross Blue Shield of North Dakota’s wellness program is marketed as a more holistic approach to pursuing all dimensions of health and well-being. This video shows the inspiration behind the insurer’s BlueElements wellness program:


5. Provide assistance

There can be a learning curve as members become familiar with new health plans. When assisting them, it’s important to offer explanations that are easy to access and to understand. Video is an effective way to answer the questions your members might have about how to enroll for services or how to use an insurer’s app. As a “show and tell” technique, video saves time and resources for insurers and can be an easier way for members to get up to speed.

In this short video, Cigna offer “tips and tricks” on how to get the most out of its myCigna mobile app. Simple animation and voiceover break down the basics (like how to download the app and use the fingerprint login) and describe the app’s key benefits of helping members compare costs, track claims and find doctors right from their fingertip:

6. Offer health education

Consumers who are informed about their health have better health outcomes, so it makes sense for a health insurer to provide members with valuable health-related advice. Studies show that health education videos keep members more engaged and active in their care. Videos featuring providers and other health experts are valuable resources for members looking for condition-specific tips, explanations about procedures and reasons to complete health screenings.

“My left arm went numb, and soon after that my right arm went numb,” begins Chris Torizzo, a Kaiser Permanente member and employee, in this video designed to help women recognize heart attack symptoms. It combines Chris’ story with expert commentary from a cardiologist:

7. Amplify your brand

In addition to its consumer benefits, video content also has value from a brand perspective. It can be used to promote events, showcase brand ambassadors, highlight a facility or location and spotlight employees and goals.

It can also be used as a recruitment tool, as with Oscar’s “Ready to join the revolution?” video. In it, Oscar promotes the perks of working for the health insurer and directs candidates to its recruitment website:

David Schultz is president and founder of Media Logic . The original version of this post can be found here .

LAX Theme Building will house USO center starting in spring 2018

Los Angeles International Airport’s iconic Theme Building will house a Bob Hope USO center for military members that’s scheduled to open in spring 2018.

The move into the building’s ground level will almost double the size of the current USO center at the airport, according to a December news release. – Los Angeles Times

“Sticky Situation” Performance | A CHRISTMAS STORY LIVE

Source: – Sunday, December 17, 2017

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Feds tell Shkreli it’s time to face the music

First he lost his freedom; now they’re coming for his music. Once Martin Shkreli was the smirking “Pharma Bro” who induced outrage by jacking up the price of a life-saving drug and insulting his detractors on social media, now he’s a prison inmate.
Modern Healthcare Breaking News

NGO tweets picture of Jews at Kotel as “Palestinian Christians and Muslims unite against Trump”

Source: – Friday, December 15, 2017
The "Institute of Middle East Understanding," which claims to be an independent organization meant to provide accurate information about the Middle East to journalists,   published this tweet: Of course, this is a photo of Jews flocking to the Kotel this past Sukkot. The Reuters article referenced indeed had that photo as a slideshow of different aspects of Jerusalem, but only the IMEU implied that this photo shows actual protests. The IMEU's Twitter feed is filled with anti-Israel vitriol and lies. One can only wonder at how many lazy journalists rely on this organization to poison their minds in order to avoid doing any research of their own. (h/t Arnold R) We have lots of ideas, but we need more resources to be even more effective. Please donate today to help get the message out and to help defend Israel.

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Independent commission reviewing Beth Israel-Lahey Health merger

The Massachusetts Health Policy Commission has begun a review of the planned merger between Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center, Lahey Health and several other hospital systems that would create the second-largest healthcare network in the state.
Modern Healthcare Breaking News

The cost of substandard hospital communication

More than 90 percent of physicians violate privacy laws by using pagers and other unsecured networks to communicate about patients. Systems lax about patient information violate the federal Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act. You may be wondering why providers would opt for antiquated technology when smartphones are available.

An infographic from Dickson Data says simplicity, range and reliability keep clinicians tied to pagers. However, patient safety is at risk when communication falters. The result? A PR crisis that can likely be prevented.


  • About 70 percent of accidental deaths and injuries in hospitals are due to communication issues.
  • The average 13-year-old has more capability with his or her smartphone than many ambulances.
  • Texting patient information violates HIPAA; each text carries a penalty of up to $ 50,000.

FREE DOWNLOAD: How to manage online patient feedback and brand reputation

Take a look:

(View a larger image here)


(Image via) 

Previously published material.

5 ways to build the brand loyalty of your physicians

Loyalty is something someone bestows upon us. We can’t demand it, and we can’t buy it. Yet, allegiance is priceless, especially in marketing and brand reputation. What role does your brand play in earning the trust of doctors?

The following five strategies can help you partner with physicians and create heightened brand loyalty:

1. Start with your shared promise.        

In my many visits to hospitals across the country, I’m always amazed at the “us vs. them” mentality. When I meet with stakeholders, the differences between physicians and hospital staff seem to come up early and often.

We have been able to bridge the gap when we focus on what unites everyone, as opposed to what is divisive. The uniting element is the brand promise. It’s the unique value proposition you make to patients. When your brand promise comes from a genuine, believable place in your organization, common ground is often found within it.

People are more loyal to a brand when they believe there are shared values, mission and vision. They understand where the organization is today, where it’s headed and how people might work together to reach the collective vision. 

FREE DOWNLOAD: How to manage online patient feedback and brand reputation

2. Build your brand around the needs of the patient.        

Consumers must be the center. Focus on doing what is best for the patient at all points. Move beyond “clinical care” and meet your patients wherever they are.

As health care intersects with retail, we see consumer-based business models and retail’s best practices take root. The consumer-oriented perspective that guides Amazon now applies to you, because patient expectations are changing as well.

Not only will being patient-centered build your brand, it will enhance partnerships. Physicians will recognize a groundswell of patient preference and brand loyalty, and they’ll be more likely to engage and participate.

Physicians want to work with hospitals that treat their patients well and guide them back to the referring physician after treatment. Committing to your physicians about post-op management is essential.

3. Treat physicians as human beings.        

Patients often see doctors as miracle workers; and peers call them superstars. However high the pedestal they are placed on, they are simply people.

To understand human desires, look at Maslow’s hierarchy of needs. Your brand can play a significant role in satisfying these necessities, particularly the top three:

  • Belonging

  • Esteem

  • Self-actualization

By its very nature, a brand creates a sense of belonging in the people who have affinity to it. The stronger your brand, the stronger its attraction becomes.

As a brand gains momentum, it will get noticed by patients, other physicians and journalists. You can achieve esteem that equals the prominence many physicians aspire to. You may hear them say proudly, “Of course I want to work with this hospital; it’s one of the best in the region.” This can bring fulfillment to doctors who want to feel that they (and their colleagues) have reached their professional and personal potential.

4. Encourage two-way communication.

In all relationships it takes work to succeed. Most of the heavy lifting of that work is carried out with solid, two-way communication. Physicians want to be heard. They’ve pooled years of education and experiences into a deep knowledge. Providers may diminish the value of their training if it’s not put to good use. Listening to doctors is essential if they are to feel like they are treated with the regard they deserve. Remember, there can’t be buy-in without giving someone an opportunity to express themselves. Even if their suggestions don’t make the final cut, giving people an opportunity to be heard reinforces that they are relevant and respected.

Physicians also want to hear what is going on within the health system, even beyond their initial clinical sphere. What’s more, they usually want to be ahead of the loop. Giving physicians’ pre-presentations on important topics before the rank-and-file sees the information is an easy way to show you value their time and expertise.

One-on-one messaging is often the most effective communication. We have seen health systems make great strides in physician engagement when they add an in-house physician relations team to their staff. When you have people who specifically keep a pulse on physician engagement, it’s easier to detect trouble and maximize strengths.

5. Invite them to participate, not observe.

Physicians are the product you offer patients. It wouldn’t make sense to leave your product on the sidelines of a brand strategy. Get doctors actively involved. Since they are such a crucial element of the brand-driven patient experience, invite them to help shape your brand.

There are a few ways to accomplish this. You can put providers in front of your community at local screenings and seminars. They can share advice with you on what patients are looking for, as this can help refine your brand’s message points.

Advertising campaigns, while not compromising your strategy, should make your physicians feel they are on top of the world. Allow them to take center stage. Pick the “best of the best” to act as role models for the rest of your physicians. When you feature physicians who can raise the hospital’s brand, you will bring new business opportunities to other physicians. The result? You elevate their innate competitive instincts to perform better.

Building long-term physician loyalty requires time. It’s not created through a postcard and a few meetings. It’s built on an organizational attitude and commitment. Brand loyalty comes from listening, trust and the fulfilment of promises you make. Trust comes when doctors believe that their health system is as committed to their patients as they are.

Tim Roberts is president and CEO at Franklin Street. The original version of this post was published on the company website.

Previously published material.

FCC to vote on net neutrality

With the FCC on the verge of repealing net neutrality rules, there’s considerable uncertainty about how the change will affect the healthcare industry, with telemedicine, particularly for rural hospitals, up in the air.
Modern Healthcare Breaking News