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Top Takeaways from SHSMD 2023

Fresh off the road from this year’s SHSMD Conference, Jenny and Shelby Auer, Account Manager at Hedy and Hopp, share their highlights from the conference in Chicago. They discuss various sessions and speakers, including insights on rural healthcare, brand management, internal communications, data-driven decision-making, and improving the patient experience. They also speak about the importance of learning and sharing experiences within the healthcare marketing industry to make a positive impact. (Check out the show notes on YouTube for links to our favorite speakers.)

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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 founder at Hedy and Hopp, a healthcare marketing agency. And I am joined today with an account manager from Hedy and Hopp, Shelby. Auer. So, Shelby and I just got back from SHSMD ‘23 in Chicago.

We had an amazing time and we wanted to do just a quick little recap for any folks that weren’t able to attend or even those who did attend but weren’t able to attend all of the different speaks, uh, talks, speakers. So, what we’re going to be doing is we’re just going to highlight a couple of things that really stood out to us as far as events.

We’re going to link to all of the speakers in the show notes, to their LinkedIn. And we’re going to tag them on LinkedIn. If you have any questions about the presentations, I’m sure they would love to talk to you about it. Everybody was so amazing at the event. So, Shelby, first of all, high [00:01:00] level, tell me about SHSMD.

This was your first ever SHSMD. So tell me a little bit about your, just some big key takeaways. 

Shelby: Yes. Oh my goodness. It was so wonderful getting to meet and connect with such wonderful people. Everyone. I mean, Brad, or Bread, as I should call him, who kicked us all off with such a great, uh, keynote, really nailed, nailed it on the head in regard to how wonderful and weird in the best way possible the group at SHSMD is.

And so, it was so wonderful getting to connect with everyone and knowing that a lot of the HIPAA conversations that we’ve been having as an agency is really top of mind across the industry, so it was so wonderful getting to connect with so many people who really just want to protect their patients and figure out what the heck they need to do with everything that’s going on.

And so, it was wonderful getting to brainstorm and talk to such wonderful people.

Jenny: That’s awesome. I completely agree with you, just, healthcare people are the best people. So, let’s jump in and talk a little bit about some of our favorite sessions. So, I will jump in and go first. So, there was a, um, a topic specifically about rural health that I absolutely loved.

So, I grew up in a super rural town, um, there were 11 kids in my class from grades K through 8. So, super, super small. So, I was really interested in attending this one to be able to hear more from different POVs about how folks are actually approaching those communications, understanding what research methodology they’re using to understand their access to, um, internet, um, likelihood to schedule annual exams, those kinds of things.

The speaker was Pauline Hoffman. She was absolutely phenomenal, great speaker. Um, but there was a couple of things that she mentioned. One thing she mentioned, the phrase social listening, but she used it in a different [00:03:00] terminology, which I actually really, really appreciated. She used social listening by actually like using your ears, right?

Not using tools and software, but actually like when you’re sitting in like a PTO event or you’re sitting in a restaurant in your small town, actually listening to hear what people are saying about the physicians and the facilities because in small towns, a lot of folks are going to be talking just through word of mouth versus using digital platforms like you may see in more urban areas.

And then some of the other things that she actually talked about is, um, getting information, um, about your services to first responders, because they’re some of the people that are most trusted in your community and have the ability to share information about access to care.

And then the third thing is, she talked a lot about fighting disinformation. Um, and not only about, um, you know, your physician. and facilities, but also just about the world and care that we want to and [00:04:00] need to offer to help make our communities a healthier and safer place. Um, and she had some really interesting perspectives talking about how PR is generally not as understood and they think it’s more of a spin position versus trying to share her phrase was truth and trust, um, which I thought was really great.

So that one for me really hit home.

Shelby: Love that. Well, and speaking of PR, one of the last sessions that I got to sit on was with Karen Brodbeck who works with OSF Healthcare. So, based out of Peoria, Illinois, so a lovely Midwest sister over there. And, she talked a lot about their brand management and how they’ve really built a national brand, though they are pretty small and focused in the Midwest space, and it was really, really interesting. She told a wonderful story about how she was at Girl Scouts as a kid and was always told, if you don’t [00:05:00] ask, the answer is no. And so how she’s kind of taken that as a mantra in the work that she’s doing, and she’s constantly reaching out and applying for different awards or speaking opportunities for individuals in the system.

And, specifically, I loved some examples of the great stories that they’ve gotten out about their health care system and I think we saw it all over this conference about not only just consumer focused work, but also stories and how important that is, how stories and data need to co-mingle and work together.

Um, but they had a story that ended up in People Magazine, got picked up in People Magazine about a nurse that cared for a sweet, sweet little baby and ended up adopting, um, this little boy. And how one of their workers on their [00:06:00] government team ended up talking to his daughter about everything that was going on in Ukraine, and they ended up sending over an ambulance filled with a bunch of stuff to Ukraine.

He ended up going and just such, such amazing stories that they have such a good. system of collecting those stories. And that was a lot of what she talked about is how they’ve really built up a space where across all their health systems, they’re sharing those stories because it can be hard to do that when you’re spread across different areas.

And so that one was a really, really great one to get some practical information, but also to get to really celebrate her and her team and how far they’ve come. 

Jenny: I love that. Lehigh Valley out of Pennsylvania, they were actually the last session on the last day, but Pamela and Kirsten came in with such amazing high energy.

It was so fun to watch them. They did something really similar, but it was specifically focused on internal comms. So, how do you better communicate,  [00:07:00] um, especially, you know, to those frontline people, thinking like nurses, they’re so busy. They’re not going to have time to go log into an intranet. So they, in 2019, they actually launched, um, something, um, they use Sprout, uh, and it’s an employee advocacy tool within Sprout.

So that’s the backend of the system. But it basically is a social media platform for within their internal organization. So they can do everything from talk about new services, they can, uh, feature and highlight employees or amazing cases and outcomes. But the cool thing is they came up with a colleague ambassador program where they actually recruited about 30 highly influential folks across the organization and gave them access to the platform ahead of everyone else, gave them branded swag, all of this fun stuff.

Um, and then that helped really spread usage of this platform. And they said at this point, 88 percent [00:08:00] of their team downloads the app and uses it on a regular basis. One of their biggest spikes in usage is at 3 a. m. in the morning, which you know, is nurses, right? Working shifts. And that was the most difficult group to access before.

And the cool thing is they actually have it, it’s so well loved within their organization that they actually have people submitting and, um, putting content out and engaging with other people’s content all of the time. And they, they shared so many metrics about the number of posts and engagement that they receive on those posts.

It blows away anything else that I’ve seen as far as internal comms and the, the pride that they’ve built up within their internal organization. I mean, they had this tool, you know, during COVID, they used it to be able to make sure that all the communication was clear, it was just, they had the hashtag LVHN proud, and I was so proud for them just sitting there listening to all of their wins, because that’s a huge accomplishment.

Shelby: Love that. And it reminds me of, uh, one of the sessions that I sat in on again, kind of [00:09:00] talking about internal comms, but focused a little bit on when that’s not so easy and when it is really, really hard. And shout out to Jeff Stewart, uh, on the CHRISTUS Health team, because he did such a wonderful job being incredibly vulnerable, sharing very, very, uh, in depth and specific quotes that he received from executive leadership that were really, really difficult to receive when you’re going through a complete website architecture redo.

And some of the biggest takeaways from that discussion were, what do you do when you get that negative feedback, right? So he was really, really struggling with the physicians in their group because they basically had a website where there was so much competing information, the same information on multiple pages across so many different of their specific [00:10:00] health clinics.

And, the session I loved, it was called, Can We Just Put The Old One Back? Because four months after the launch of the new site, after they had data to show how consumers were able to more easily find and set schedule appointments, that was an exact quote that he got via email from someone that was, “You just got the old site and you just put it back up.”

Jenny: And I get that, right? Like these people are so busy. They don’t have time to learn a new site architecture. So that probably was really difficult for him to hear, even though he knew it was doing better.

Shelby: A hundred percent. And I love the way he gave some really practical experience on how do you deal with getting that kind of feedback and showing up with empathy first and understanding where they’re coming from and not going to defensive mode, you know, trying to protect your team has been working so hard on this, [00:11:00] but really trying to understand where they’re coming from and help them really take the data showing, Hey, consumers are utilizing this, but sometimes the data is not everything.

And so one of the biggest takeaways was also pulling in those stories. Here are individuals that haven’t received care in years and now they have a primary care physician. Like, those are the things to celebrate. 

Jenny: Yeah. It’s absolutely amazing.

Shelby: Yeah. When those physicians voices, and that this was a big takeaway, when those voices are sometimes the largest voice in the room, everyone can agree that the patient’s voice is louder. And so, just figuring out ways to communicate that across your organization and to really help everyone move toward the same goal. It was really inspiring.

Jenny: I love that. So, um, Arkansas Children’s, they did an amazing presentation talking also about the power of using data for internal buy-in. And, um, you know, all organizations, many organizations, have this intrinsic belief that like, [00:12:00] we’re the best, especially if they’re in a space where there aren’t many competitors and they’re really one of the only large providers within your state or your region.

Um, and so what this group did, um, is they actually began using some, um, third party data to pull in to understand not only where the gaps in care are, so where, where are we within the state where there are large groups of pediatric populations where we perhaps don’t have an outpatient center location, or people have to drive more than three hours to be able to access care. And then they also use that data to be able to look at things like birth defects within certain counties of the state to understand what may be coming up as far as specialized services that they perhaps don’t offer right now, or they aren’t offering statewide in a way that can really service their growing population. 

And it was really powerful because so many times we talk about data and dashboards and so many times it’s just focused on your own data and the power they had at pulling, um, mostly [00:13:00] free third party data that’s available through your state and county and some meaningful story that then can allow you to be much more comprehensive with your strategic planning was super just impressive for me.

It’s something that so many groups we work with want to get to, and it’s like part of the continuum, and it’s certainly a worthy goal. So kudos, Arkansas Children’s. So I love it.

And then I think, um, one of the other ones that I really loved was, um, Advocate Health. Kelly, Joe and Jamie. Their energy, it was so much fun watching them. So they were talking about, um, being consumer first, which all of us want our organizations to be. Um, but they were talking a little bit about, um, things like, how do you actually measure that?

Right, like, how do you, how do you talk about progress of becoming a consumer first [00:14:00] organization or improving patients access to care? Like what metrics are the metrics that matter? And one of the things that stuck out to me is they actually have developed this internal metric called ease of use. And that’s something that they use to be able to understand how things are progressing within their own org.

And so again, it’s like, um, it’s a made up metric, but it’s one they’ve all agreed upon as something that’s important and valuable to measuring progress. And I think that was a really good reminder that, um, you don’t necessarily have to use these industry standard, um, you know, statistical analysis or processes or formulas within your own organization.

You can decide, what is the metric we want to use to understand if we won or not? And that’s enough, right? Like that’s enough, that aligns all of your team as far as where that, um, you know, finish mark is. So it was really cool to watch them. One other, I want to call out Mary Cronin from St. Luke’s did such a phenomenal job.

She was on a panel of two other people, there are three people total within St. Luke’s. Um, and [00:15:00] they were, um, talking about strategic and design thinking within an organization, but one phrase that she said, um, that really stuck with me and I wrote it down verbatim is, “A way to be able to get organizational buy in is really thinking about that influence on the front end and the empowerment on the back end.”

So, as a strategist, it isn’t really our job to execute the concepts, but really is our job to be able to influence and then empower. So it was a really great takeaway. 

Shelby: Oh, love that. And one of the, one of the sessions that I sat in on with Joel and Beth from Columbus Regional Health in Indiana, again, another Midwest friend, but, they talked a lot about this WellConnect system that they developed over the past 10 years.

And I love one of the things that they talked about as kind of a key takeaway was to be a gap filler. That [00:16:00] every system, like, there’s going to be gaps. They have a very diverse population and who’s going to do it if not you to help? And they really, really showed this sense of accountability for the community that they serve, which was incredibly inspiring, reminded me of what Brad said in the keynote about why do you love what you do and how powerful that question is, and it’s really, really neat to see that they have this free offering to their community where you can call a connection specialist and they’re going to help connect you to a PCP.

They’ll help talk you through your insurance if you’ve got questions or concerns and even connect you with other community organizations that can help support you. So if your insurance isn’t covered, oh well we know of this non for profit that will be able to help you. And it was just really really neat to see how they really took this idea that started with, okay, we [00:17:00] need a building downtown that can serve the community and how that just has spiraled over 10 years.

And now, they have all of these connection specialists and they’re looking to grow the team super soon. So kudos to them and all the wonderful work that they’re doing in their community. 

Jenny: That is awesome. Um, a session that really reminds me of that is KC Children’s Mercy. They were talking about, um, how to be able to positively impact the patient experience.

So first, how do you decide what patient experience you want to improve? So they made this beautiful, super simple chart with four quadrants and, um, the variables about the quadrants is urgency versus frequency. So, they then mapped all of their different service lines within that chart to be able to figure out, you know, how to make the biggest impact.

And they decided they were going to focus first on, um, patients, pediatric patients that had multiple visits within one day. So it can be super overwhelming for the parent and for the child when they go and they have like five appointments stacked. [00:18:00] And so they began working with client services and a bunch of other groups within the organization.

And they manually executed their ideas to see if it made a difference before actually rolling it out. So my favorite example, and this is near and dear to my heart because so many of the children in my family have had long-term care issues in pediatric hospitals. Um, they began mailing these welcome packets or, um, um, anticipation packets like a week before the day where everything was stacked.

And it not only had a nice letter to the parent saying, here’s the name of your, um, care, what word did they use, it was like a care manager or your friend at the facility that will be waiting for you when you arrive and they’re there to answer questions all day. They would try to pull food vouchers if they were there all day and they met certain income requirements.

They had that information in their database. But then they actually would print out a schedule of the day with all of the appointments. And then they would provide [00:19:00] stickers for the kids to be able to put on the different events to be able to mark the completion of it. And they literally printed these out and mailed them for a period of time manually before they rolled it out formally to see if it works.

So I really like that scrappy initiative of saying like, hey y’all, we think this is going to make a big difference, but before we put tons of resources into it, let’s test and iterate and then we can roll it out. So it was a really great way to think about a physical experience improvement, um, in a, you know, test and iterate formula, because often we just think about doing that in the digital world, but it can still be done in the physical world as well.

So, I love it. So, uh, this was Hedy and Hopp’s second year, um, being at SHSMD. Uh, this year I did a presentation on HIPAA, FTC, and state laws. Super well received, standing room only, had so many good conversations afterwards. Um, but we will definitely be there next year. Next year is going to be in [00:20:00] Denver.

So if you have any questions about any of the sessions that we talked about, please reach out to the folks that we’re linking to in the show notes and tagging on LinkedIn, because the presentations were all just phenomenal this year. And I really look forward to next year to continue learning and meeting more peers.

So, thanks for tuning in. We’ll talk to you soon.

Shelby: Thanks so much.



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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