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Top Takeaways from Becker’s HIT + DH + RCM 2023 Conference

Today Jenny is bringing you the inside scoop from the Becker’s HIT + DH + RCM Conference with a little help from Hedy and Hopp’s own Shelby Auer. Shelby discusses her experience at the conference, where they explored a wide range of healthcare topics, from digital health to IT, revenue cycle, and the patient experience. The conference featured diverse perspectives, including providers, highlighting the importance of cross-functional collaboration. She and Jenny dig into the themes of knowing patients as consumers, the role of AI in healthcare, and setting a solid marketing foundation. Speakers at the conference emphasized the need for convenience in healthcare and shared innovative approaches to patient care and referrals. Shelby rates her experience based on the thought-provoking content and valuable insights that were presented.

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In-Person Event: Tues, 10/24 | 9-11am | St. Louis, MO >> Register Now

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Jenny: [00:00:00] Hi, friends. Welcome to today’s episode of We Are, Marketing Happy, a healthcare marketing podcast. My name is Jenny Bristow. I am the CEO and the founder at Hedy and Hopp, a full service, fully healthcare marketing agency. And I am so excited today to have a Hedy and Hopp team member join us, Shelby Auer. Hi Shelby.

Shelby: Hello. Happy to be here.

Jenny: So I am so excited to do today’s episode with you because I experienced so much FOMO last week when you went to Becker’s. I was supposed to go and then I ended up getting sick. My husband gave me the thing that he had. So you ended up going in my place and I passed the baton to you and sat there with FOMO watching you.

I’m just as excited, I think, as our listeners to hear more about some of the key learnings and takeaways and some of the people and organizations that are talking about some innovative topics. 

Shelby: Yes, I’m excited to get to share. It was really fun getting to go last minute and get to join so many incredible people [00:01:00] talking about what’s going on.

Jenny: I love it. As a reminder, before we dig into this specific topic, we are actually doing an in-person, if you are in St. Louis, and a virtual HIPAA, FTC, and state law webinar slash session in two weeks. The week of October, uh, it’s actually on the 24th is the in-person and the 25th is the virtual.

This is a topic that you’re still trying to wrap your arms around. We’re going to share the registration link in the show notes. We expect a full house. This is a highly anticipated topic. Standing room only at SHSMD. We’re going to be talking about it again at Smash and HCIC and a couple of other conferences this fall.

So if you’re still trying to tackle it, please grab your seat and get registered.

But let’s dig on in. So excited to chat about Becker’s. At the beginning of the year, we stepped back a little bit as an organization and we said, okay, we have a couple of our favorites, right? Like we go to HCIC every year.

SHSMD is a big favorite, but what else, like, where are our people [00:02:00] hanging out in person? And so Becker’s, this conference in particular was one that we had flagged as one that we had a lot of high excitement around. And we just went as attendees this year to really try it out. We didn’t have a booth. We didn’t even pitch to speak. It was just like, let’s see if these are our people. And you kind of came back with a resounding “Yes,” right? 

Shelby: Oh, yeah. Oh, yeah. It was such an interesting conference because of the broad amount of topics that were covered during it. Everything from digital health and the digital health ecosystem to IT and how everyone’s handling needing to be all hands on deck when it comes to IT and tech, to even the revenue cycle and how to handle that. So it was really, yeah, broad the amount of topics that were discussed, which just meant for some great conversations with folks.

Jenny: Absolutely. When we think about the kind of roles and kind of different positions that people were in as attendees, were we still seeing a lot of marketing [00:03:00] folks or were there a lot of it folks and people within other operational roles within the organizations?

Shelby: Yeah, it was a pretty mixed bag, honestly. There were some marketing folks, but there were a lot of IT tech folks. There were a lot of, especially on some of the panels, and this was something that was really interesting to me, was the provider perspective. There were quite a few providers that were at this conference that were speaking at sessions or in panels talking about their perspective on the patient experience alongside marketing team members.

So it was really special to see those folks standing on stage next to tech, next to marketing, and talking about the patient experience from all angles because we know providers have such a massive voice when it comes to marketing and working with all of these different teams, but hearing straight from them their experiences working with the [00:04:00] patient and how that translates to working with the marketing team to help change things and make things better for the patient was really interesting.

Jenny: Oh, I love it. I love it. And I agree. It’s so rare to actually see a provider up on stage talking about these things, at least at the events that we have typically attended. So I love that and I cannot wait for next year already. So you were able to attend about 10 different sessions in the digital marketing and patient experience track.

So what are some of the biggest themes that you noticed? 

Shelby: Oh, well, one of the biggest things was this concept of knowing your patients as people and thinking of them as consumers, because there was a lot of discussion and very deliberate uses of consumer versus patient. And specifically, I love Donna Roach of the University of Utah who said it really best in one of the sessions that thinking of them as “consumers [00:05:00] always, patients sometimes.”

And we really heard that over and over again throughout a lot of the session. And the focuses were really on two kind of main areas: research and how important research is, as well as personalization, which we’re always hearing people are talking about. And now with the privacy landscape, everything is changing.

So those are kind of the two key themes from a high-level that we saw across the board. 

Jenny: That’s so interesting. And I love hearing that. We do a lot of persona development and our episode last week was about segmentation, right? And how important it is to really understand who you’re talking to and who your end consumer is.

So it’s great to see that trend. And I think it’s going to be really interesting to watch it play out over the next couple of years as people begin kind of figuring out how to balance all the patient privacy concerns that are coming up with the implementation rollout [00:06:00] of things like a CRM or a CDP, where you are able to do that level of personalization at scale.

So we’ll be interested to watch. There’s no such thing as a digital conference in 2023 if there isn’t a conversation around artificial intelligence. So how did that come up as it relates to patient experience and digital marketing? Was that something people were talking about or was it “Yeah, this is here, but we have more important things to focus on in the short term.”

Shelby: Oh no, there were definitely conversations about AI. Like you said, it was definitely a focus. There was a talk of more specific applications. So when it comes to transcribing doctor’s notes so when they’re talking to patients, they’re able to be more present, not have to worry about transcribing every little detail or in-room monitoring for staff shortages and things that, that, uh, these organizations are struggling with.

How can they utilize AI to really help them from that perspective? But from a marketing [00:07:00] standpoint, the AI talk was a little bit more conceptual. I do want to call out a few people, James Watson of St. Luke’s, Kristina Dover of Mercy, and Christina Deidesheimer of Beebe Healthcare, all talked about partnering like we as marketers never have before with IT, and how AI can help marketers work at the top of their license.

And that was really a big theme when it came to talks of AI on the marketing side was this need for cross-functional collaboration. James was saying marketing has a stronger seat at the table than ever before. And I really loved Donna, who I mentioned earlier, who’s the CIO, said, “It is essential to not die on every hill, you’ve gotta be able to pivot,” which of course when I hear the word pivot I think of all of us at Hedy and Hopp and [00:08:00] how much we love one of our core values of pivoting with positivity. But I think that’s really the name of the game when it comes to working together with IT and marketing and all of these teams with this new tech.

And how do you work together to get ahead of it, to make sure that they’re going about it in a way that is safe from a privacy perspective? And Tara Nooteboom of UCI Health had, she was on quite a few panels and had some great thoughts about consumer experience and innovation. And one of the thoughts that was really resounding in my head was talking about calculating and measuring the outcome of innovation and the risk that comes with trying to stay ahead of tech innovation.

And how do you, that ROI, when it’s healthcare marketers for a lot of these organizations, [00:09:00] ROI is sometimes this soft number. There’s not always this number that’s a hard and fast number. And that makes it even harder when you’re trying to put value towards staying ahead of trends and staying ahead of tech and innovation.

So she really made some good points about trying to figure out how to set that expectation when it comes to some of that soft ROI.

Jenny: That is so, I love that perspective. And I’m really, I’m really sad that I missed hearing Tara speak because I feel like at the conferences so far this year, there’s been an over kind of like this cloud above all AI conversations, sort of like we haven’t even figured out online scheduling yet.

Like, don’t bother me with AI. We’re not even ready for it yet. So her perspective of, like, putting a value on it or understanding the ROI and, like, your internal organization’s prioritization of that is really fascinating to me. And I [00:10:00] love hearing that there were so many conversations about the clinical applications of AI because I definitely do think that is more immediately beneficial to patients.

Even thinking about, like, myself as a patient, I can imagine that being implemented much faster and easier, than on some of the marketing pieces when you’re thinking about personalization or whatnot. 

Shelby: 100%. There was even a provider that was talking about because someone asked a really good question in one of the sessions about, okay, we’re pushing so hard for virtual visits, right?

But what about individuals who at home might not be in a safe space for them to be able to talk about what’s going on? And how do you stay on top of that? And one of the providers was talking about how they’re looking into using AI to help be able to flag any subtle cues of anxiety that folks may be showing on like within 20 seconds of a call, being able to flag to the provider so the provider can follow up after the virtual call to be like, “Hey, I felt like maybe [00:11:00] something was up, or there might be some, is there anything you want to talk about?”

And I just thought how amazing that technology can be able to help providers who are so overwhelmed. They’ve got, they’re going in and out of meetings with individuals. How do they keep that kind of personalization, right? To help people feel really seen and heard. So it was neat to see how tech is evolving on that side.

Jenny: Absolutely. And even thinking about like, whenever I’ve gone to see a specialist, they’re always looking at their computer typing while we’re talking. Transcription, right? Look me in the eyes and let the technology take care of that. That’s such a simple fix for such a cool technology implementation. So super exciting.

I love all of those topics. Let’s talk, because, so there’s exciting innovation, right? People love talking about innovation and all of the ways it’s going to change the way that we show up every day. But you also mentioned and talked about that there were just some great sessions that really focus on a solid marketing foundation and those things that marketers like us have [00:12:00] to show up and do every single day.

So tell me a little bit about that. 

Shelby: Yeah. So for honestly, the true marketers out there, there was a Wednesday afternoon session called like marketing superstars, and we thought that session really delivered. So Brian Deffaa, who is the CMO of LifeBridge Health, Jason, who’s the Chief Digital Officer of Bon Secours Mercy Health, and Bob Poznanovich, who’s the Chief Growth Officer at Hamilton Betty Ford Foundation.

They were such a great panel to talk about this and they gave some amazing points about setting a solid marketing foundation. One of them talking about AI even said, “Sometimes it feels like we’re watering our lawn when our house is on fire.” Like, like we gotta get the basics in place, just like you were saying, Jenny.

So they were definitely mirroring that [00:13:00] across the board. But Brian told a great story about how marketing is about telling stories, right? And showing value. And he really took an inside-out approach to telling the LifeBridge story in the market. By starting with their internal positioning, so starting with that emotional story, and then they layered in kind of how are we going to activate on this digitally, externally, right?

So they made some really game changing digital improvements by creating this convenient entry point into care that they called Hello Brave, which were these four doorways into the right type of care. So you could easily, there are four options, what are you looking for? To help the prospective patient get to where they needed to go.

And Brian even said during that panel that 81 [00:14:00] percent of consumers will choose convenience over their current doctor. And we’re seeing Amazon and Costco getting into the healthcare space. And what are they doing? They’re making it more convenient. These traditional healthcare organizations are really going to need to kind of match removing that friction, making it easier for patients to get what they’re looking for in order to compete with these emerging kind of non-traditional healthcare options.

Jenny: Absolutely. Hello, Brave. What a beautiful brand name. I just, I want to go Google that and go look at what that user experience is like simply because of the name of it. I love that for them. Oh, this is so fun. So on a scale of one to five with one, definitely not going back, and five being I’m ready to buy my ticket for 2024.

Where are you with Becker’s? 

Shelby: Oh my gosh. It was great. It’s definitely up there. If not a 5, 4. 5, like it was such thought provoking content.[00:15:00] Like, even as we’re just talking about the storytelling that came from Brian and his team, there was a lot of conversation about storytelling when it comes to physician leakage.

And I know I’ve talked to clients that have the, “Our physicians are referring people away from us, even though we can help them with the, we have people in our system that can help them with these next steps.” And so there were multiple people, Brian, Jackie, let me, I want to make sure Jackie Effenson of Houston Methodist spoke about this, Ken Chaplin, who’s the CMO of City of Hope, all talked about this and they talked about some low cost ways to improve referrals, like bringing specialists in around their primary care providers. Jackie even talked about internal providers being users of their patient-facing Find A Provider tool [00:16:00] and how they were considering even modifying a version of that tool to support internal referrals, which I thought was genius. 

Jenny: That really is genius, right? If there’s a need and the technology exists, let’s pivot it so it’s easier for that group to use it. Absolutely brilliant. Yeah, well, Shelby, thank you so much.

Not only for taking my ticket, which again, serious FOMO, I was texting you the whole time like I wish I was there, but also for coming back with such fabulous insights. For listeners, so appreciate your time. I hope you were able to get a little bit of inspiration and just excitement around the neat things that are happening with innovation and with just smart marketing execution across the country.

We are going to tag all of the folks that we mentioned on this podcast. So if you have any specific questions around the topics that they discussed at Becker’s, I’m sure they would love for you to reach out to them on LinkedIn and start that secondary conversation. So as always, thanks for tuning in to We Are, Marketing Happy and we’ll see you soon. 



About the Author

Jenny Bristow is the CEO and Founder of Hedy & Hopp. Prior to starting Hedy & Hopp, Jenny launched, grew and sold a digital agency in Seattle and worked at Amazon. She was named one of St. Louis Business Journal’s 30 under 30, won a Stevie Award for Female Entrepreneur of the Year in 2018 and speaks regularly at healthcare marketing industry events.

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