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It’s hard to find a more perfect person to be on our healthcare marketing podcast than today’s guest, Noah Locke, Director of Marketing, Technology, and Analytics at UW Health in Madison, Wisconsin. 

Jenny and Noah begin the show talking about marketing budgeting. Noah discusses how budgeting at the beginning of Covid was not as difficult as it is now that the overall economy is finally feeling the effects of two years of Covid disruption. One thing that he recommends that is easy and significant help in the budget is to review the cost for things large and small to see if they are needed, or if could they be doing the same job with a lower cost or even a free alternative. Jenny talks about how organizations can get stuck in old ways and not look for more affordable, more efficient choices.

The conversation then turns to measuring results and Noah explains how UW Health they are dedicated to tracking results that support their strategic plan, which has the goal of providing the best patient care possible. In order to do this, you can’t just track the areas that connect directly to patient care, but all the other supporting areas.  And as many of our listeners know, in healthcare it can take a lot of time and effort to make a change and get the tools you need. Noah expresses the importance of creating relationships with as many people and departments as you can and how to craft proposals in a way to speed up the process.

They also dive into analytics and how using both business and marketing analytics in tandem can help make the best decisions possible. Noah also gives some insight on what’s new that he and the team at UW Health are working on and plans for the future, and how he decides on the prioritization of these initiatives.

Watch their discussion below or listen to the podcast, We Are Marketing Happy – a healthcare marketing podcast.

Other Links and Resources

Connect with Noah:

Connect with Jenny on LinkedIn:


Full Transcript:

JENNY: [00:00:00] Hi, I’m Jenny Bristow and I’m the CEO and Founder of Hedy & Hopp, a healthcare marketing agency based in the Midwest. We started the, We Are, Marketing Happy podcast because of our passion for improving patient’s access to care. And understanding the innovations and shifts in the healthcare industry are key to making that happen.

Please follow share, and let us know what topics you’d like for us to cover next. Enjoy.

Hi friends. Welcome to the, We Are Marketing Happy podcast today. I am super excited to have with me Noah Locke. Noah is the Director of Marketing Technology and Analytics at UW Health. Noah, I’m excited to have you. 

NOAH: Hey, Jenny. Thanks for having me. I’m excited to be here.

JENNY: Let’s dig right in. Some of the things that I wanted to chat about with you today are topics that people often are [00:01:00] uncomfortable talking about in public, which is perfect for this podcast. 

Marketing budgeting. The first big question I want to talk to you about is how you’re handling budgeting post pandemic. Clearly your system, like everyone else’s, was impacted pretty severely with COVID.

How are you handling budgeting post pandemic? Are you back to normal? Have you had a ramp up period? How are you and your team thinking about it? 

NOAH: Yeah, I think like you said, everybody had a challenging couple years. I feel like we’re starting to really see the impacts right now, whereas, a lot of people might expect that right in the middle of the pandemic, finances were super tough.

There was a period of that in the very beginning, but actually it wasn’t as bad as we all thought. But now as the global economy, I think it is catching up to the effects of the pandemic. We’re actually starting to see more of that hit our [00:02:00] organization. So it started really tough. This year was a tough year for budgeting.

But I’ve found, and this was true, not just during the pandemic or now, but since I’ve been in really business is being a cost savings junkie really helps. In what I’ve experienced in healthcare is there’s a lot of this attitude that we have to keep using certain systems because we have to keep using them because that’s what we’ve always done.

Therefore we have to keep paying for them. and I’ve gotten really comfortable just saying, no, we don’t. we’re gonna stop using that system and we’re going to use a spreadsheet instead, or we’re going to use this free tool over here. and that’s, that’s really helped. I mean, I wouldn’t say we’ve been able to move mountains with it.

But we really take a hard look at everything we’re using and not just during budget season, but just throughout the year, every time I get a credit card statement, I’m combing through it. [00:03:00] I’m like, do we still need that? Do we still need that subscription? Do we still need this thing? I actually canceled a WordPress plugin this morning.

It was a subscription that no one even knew we still had and I’m like get rid of it. You know? So it’s little things like that that can go a long way and helping to kind of ease the pain.

Another one that I thought of was just ask early and ask often. A lot of times we wait till budget season to start to talk to our next level leader or our finance partners about things that are coming up and things that we need. I like to ask the minute I need it. Even if we just started our new fiscal year and there’s no hope of getting any extra funds. Cause what I’ve found is that’s not always true. Things are constantly shifting and even though our next fiscal year budget’s been improved a lot of times, and this is even true for my own team, we discover that maybe this technology we budgeted for, we discovered [00:04:00] after the fact that we actually can’t implement it until the next year. So we got the funds approved and now the funds are available. And so we can redistribute those to be used elsewhere. 

JENNY: It’s kind of funny. Whenever you start your career, you think all of the rules that you’re told are set in stone, but they really aren’t. Right. There’s so much gray and you have to be willing to ask.

NOAH: Especially in healthcare. I think healthcare suffers a lot from, and I think it’s part of both good and bad people stay in their careers a long time.

I have a lot of people I work with who’ve been here for 25 years. And so with that, you’ve got a lot of legacy culture that’s resistant to change. So just not being afraid to kind of, you know, go a little bit outside the box or outside your comfort zone goes a long way.

Jenny: So when we’re thinking about budget allocation, of course, everybody always thinks about measuring success in KPIs.

How do you determine what success looks like based off the dollars [00:05:00] that you spent both for your own metrics, but then also communicating it both to team members you manage and then leadership above you. 

NOAH: Yeah, that’s a tough one in healthcare. I mean, one thing that helped in 2020 UW helped build out their new strategic plan and it has been actually very helpful.

I think it would come to no surprise. Anyone listening that our number one goal is patient care and providing the best for patient for possible. But not everything we do, especially in my realm directly has an impact on patient care in a clinical setting. And what really helped was our CEO and his leadership team putting together a lot more areas of focus that orbit around patient care.

So things like information management and analytics. A big one for my team. Like we actually have that in our strategic plan. I’m like, we do a ton of that work. Amazing. And so now when we’re putting together our goals for the year and [00:06:00] we’re required to kind of tie our goals back to the strategic plan, and almost everything we do, it’s that bucket.

And to have our CEO say, this is critical and important to the overall mission, which supports patient care. It’s really helpful for my team so that we can demonstrate a return in that domain, even if it’s not directly patient related. 

JENNY: It’s very great leadership to set goals that everybody can tie up to.

So kudos your organization for that. So you already talked about asking early and asking often when there’s something that you need, but talk to me about red tape and bureaucracy for getting things approved because we all know if you’re in healthcare, it’s not as easy as just going and asking for a check to get things done.

There’s the political side of it. There’s making sure that other teams have buy in. If you need to have other teams to work together. 

If you were talking to yourself, just starting out in the [00:07:00] healthcare space, what advice would you have given yourself or somebody junior in their career about navigating that process?

NOAH: I think the most important thing is to know who’s who. Really take the time to get to know people in your organization. That that may seem like an obvious thing, but a lot of us, we join our team and we kind of stay in our lane. As a director, who’s responsible for trying to get money to move initiatives forward, I have friends in finance, in procurement, in it, in all the different areas where I know, oh, I need to get that person. And that person bought in really quick so that I can push this. And then actually one thing I’ve discovered was don’t use email. Email has become the worst possible way to communicate in my opinion.

So I’ll send people an informal chat, like, Hey, how’s your day. Hey, I had a quick question. I’m thinking about asking for some funds for this [00:08:00] thing and you know what I mean? It’s kind of going around the traditional channels to get people’s attention. Another big one is just the SBAR. I don’t know if you’re familiar with the, the term.

JENNY: Explain it for our listeners anyway. 

NOAH: So it’s just a format for writing a proposal. So it’s situation background assessment recommendation. And it helps you as the author really hone in on what it is you’re asking for and explain it in a way that whoever you hand that document to can look at it and very quickly know, okay, this is why they’re asking for this.

This is the problem. This is what they’re trying to solve. It’s really effective. So getting good at writing those and writing them often and then not being afraid to send it to the CIO, for example. Another big one. I used to be terrified to directly go to somebody who was whatever 10 pay grades above me and I just decided I wasn’t gonna do that anymore. And it’s, it’s actually paid [00:09:00] off. To just kind of put yourself out there and not be afraid to ask those questions. 

JENNY: Absolutely initiative is so rare because people are afraid but it probably was really welcome. So you bring up a really interesting point talking about and getting buy-in from the CIO from finance, probably legal.

It’s been really interesting because we work with hospital systems and providers all across the country and the way that they structure their analytics teams is so different from team to team. I’d love to hear how your organization decided on your structure about where marketing analytics sits and why you think it is a good solution.

NOAH: Yeah. So for years, Google analytics was just a thing that sat over here and it was all we really had in terms of marketing analytics, it’s sad to say. When I came on I quickly found myself frustrated with that reality. [00:10:00] Recently we hired a data scientist for our marketing department, but this is the cool part.

He reports into our enterprise analytics data science team. So he works daily with machine learning, engineers and data scientists, and they’re all working together to stand up a really new and robust applied data science function at US Health. So it’s a matrix position. He reports to me, but he doesn’t report to me.

I basically tell him what to work on. I give him direction. I give him guidance, whatever he needs and he gets to work on all of my projects, but he still has that direct line into that team. That’s been awesome because it breaks down silos. It creates a bridge between our two teams that wasn’t there before we find ourselves talking way more often. And what we’re trying to do there – just to get technical for a minute – [00:11:00] He is working on setting up API feeds that will consume all the data from our different platforms. So Google Analytics,. Google Ads, we use form stack, we use Invoca for call tracking. All these different systems, pulling it all into our data lake, where all of our clinical data sits.

The whole point is we want to be able to have a really robust business intelligence platform where we can look at absolutely all of our data. And I’m not just saying this because you’re interviewing me, but Jenny you’re partially responsible because of the talk you gave at HCIC in 2019. When you talked about necessity to move beyond just looking at your marketing analytics and putting together with your business analytics, so you can do true business intelligence.

So that’s that’s happening right now.

JENNY: I wanna give you a kudos for the way that your team has structured it because so often we see either a [00:12:00] completely separate team under marketing being formed, where they have an analytics and decision science team. And then a completely separate one that manages all the clinical data or having a marketing person over here on the clinical that doesn’t actually understand the marketing language and doesn’t actually have anybody to report to. So you have created this beautiful bridge that I think is a really cool model for other systems to understand and learn from. 

So on that note, what are you working on right now? What’s something you’re excited about.

NOAH: So, the one I just mentioned is obviously, you know, the goal with the data science work we’re doing is to be able to accurately demonstrate to the organization, the return on our marketing efforts. And that’s a big one for us in marketing. We’ve been, I don’t wanna say flying blind, but we, we do these campaigns an we, can’t always very accurately relay the outcomes, you know? 

Okay. We had X amount of patients fill out a form, how many of them actually had a hip replace? [00:13:00] What was the contribution margin on those hip replacements? That’s data that’s we’ve been able to go get ad hoc on a one off basis, but what we really want is realtime automated business intelligence so we can make decisions. There’s a couple big things coming up for us. I’m on two kind of big initiatives right now. One we’re rebuilding our employee experience platform. So that’s all internal focused, just trying to really level up the way we do work here. 

And then, we are kind of neck deep in the CRM procurement world.We’ve been working on that for a while, so that’s wonderful. And I think what I would say that if you know anyone listening, who’s even going down that road, it’s taken us way longer than we wanted it to in terms to get to an implementation. But the reason is we have done [00:14:00] so much work on what we call the road show, making sure that everyone who needs to possibly know that we’re doing this knows that we’re doing it and how it’s gonna impact their teams. It’s wonderful. So it’s not just we’re doing CRM, just for marketing. We’re doing it for UW Health. It’s really more about patient experience than it is about just acquiring new patients

JENNY: That’s when it’s really impactful. I mean, I was talking actually to another system just a couple of days ago and they actually had their CRM implementation paused because of lack of buy in from other departments because they didn’t do that relationship building on the front end. So it’s very smart to actually get all of the relationships and roadmap the personas, all of that done first.

So kudos to you. So last question, you have all of these different things going on. You’ve been a UW for a while. How do you determine what you’re going to push forward as an initiative and a priority within [00:15:00] the organization, the entire marketing team, and then both for your own career?

NOAH: Those are really good questions.

So I guess the main thing we’re doing right now is my counterpart, our director of digital marketing and I work extremely closely together on our annual roadmap.

I wouldn’t even call it an annual roadmap because we’re updating every week. But I think the most important part of it is what I’d call the roadmap roadshow, which is where we take the roadmap and we go to folks in other departments that we wouldn’t normally ever work with and say, hey, this is what we’re planning to do.

What do you think about this? So we’re taking it to our ambulatory operations team and saying, hey, we’re thinking about [00:16:00] building in these new features on our public facing website. So patients can do X, Y, and Z. And that’s their chance to say don’t do that because that’ll actually negatively impact their experience over here.

And there’s no way we would even know about that. Our organization is way too big and we don’t know everything. So we kind of rely on feedback from other departments to help us decide whether or not an idea or an initiative is a good one. It’s something to put their resources behind. 

JENNY: How is being remote impacting that?

Are you able to still have those conversations that you need? I know you said email isn’t your preferred channel and you can always instant message or text or whatnot. But do you think that your processes are slowed down at all? Because you’re not, you know, down the hallway from your team. 

NOAH: No. So surprisingly, I would say in some ways it’s gotten easier.

I guess, two things it’s definitely impacted the small team dynamic, where we were all staying in close [00:17:00] proximity in our little cube farm, right? To get up and look over the cube wall and have a conversation. But when you have an organization with 20, 20, 2000 people, we were never all in the same place.

There was even a culture of, well, I gotta go drive across town to have a meeting with so, and so, which is really inefficient. So I think the virtual meeting has actually improved our efficiency because we can get together a lot more often with people and some of our staff now live in different areas.

And so the fact we’re able to get together as often as we can, we’re getting a lot more done. I don’t know if everyone had the same opinion, but I think it it’s been a positive thing. 

JENNY: Yeah, I hear you. We’re experiencing the same thing. It’s actually very positive.

I miss people, but in general for productivity. It’s positive. 

Well, Noah, thank you so much for being on today. I’m gonna link to your LinkedIn page [00:18:00] on the show notes. If anybody wants to reach out to you to ask any follow up questions or just to connect with you in general, it will be really easy to do so, but as always, it was wonderful chatting with you.

Thanks for being on. 

NOAH: Thanks so much, Jenny. It was my pleasure.


It is vital to have a strong digital team to grow your organization and reach patient acquisition goals. But is your team performing as effectively as it could? 

Today Jenny welcomes Hedy & Hopp’s Director of Digital Activation, Lindsey Brown. Lindsey coordinates five different groups – Analytics, Paid Media, Development, Design/UX, and Digital Production. She talks about one of the most complex pieces of the job – determining when and who to bring in at any point during projects. She discusses tactics to avoid an overly-siloed approach and tips to always begin with an analytics perspective to ensure measurement does not become an afterthought.

They discuss the decision on if and when to bring in outside agency partners by taking many different things into consideration, especially in the often complex and quickly changing healthcare landscape. Lindsey ends the show by explaining the planning process and the key ingredients to successfully working with an outside partner.

Watch their discussion below or listen to the podcast, We Are Marketing Happy – a healthcare marketing podcast.

Other Links and Resources

Connect with Lindsey on LinkedIn:

Connect with Jenny on LinkedIn:


Full Transcript:

JENNY: [00:00:00] Hi, I’m Jenny Bristow and I’m the CEO and founder of Hedy & Hopp, a healthcare marketing agency based in the Midwest. We started the, We Are, Marketing Happy podcast because of our passion for improving patients’ access to care. And understanding the innovations and shifts in the healthcare industry are key to making that happen.

Please follow share, and let us know what topics you’d like for us to cover next. Enjoy.

Hi friends. Welcome to this week’s episode of We Are, Marketing Happy, a healthcare marketing podcast. I am super excited to have our very own Lindsay Brown joining us today. She is the Director of Digital Activation at Hedy & Hopp. And so today we’re really excited to talk a little bit about what digital activation actually means.

Your team might spend a lot of time developing your strategy of how you’re going [00:01:00] to grow your organization, how you’re going to accomplish your patient acquisition goals, but then how do you actually implement it and roll it out in a way that’s effective? So welcome Lindsay. 

LINDSEY: Thanks. Hi, Jenny. Great to be here.

JENNY: So let’s get started and explain what the term digital activation means. I think there are so many different ways that groups both internal and at agencies describe their implementation groups. So walk us through why we call it digital activation. 

LINDSEY: Absolutely. So. At Hedy & Hopp, what we really strive to do as you know, Jenny is to make sure that all of the pieces of that puzzle are working together. Activation from our standpoint, really is what’s gonna touch the consumer.

What’s gonna touch the audience and how do we make sure that that is happening in the most seamless and also the best way possible activation. From our perspective, it includes five core groups that, as the Director of Digital Activation, I oversee. It includes analytics, paid media, digital production development, and design and UX.

So really anything that expresses a campaign or is the result of those core strategies that you’re talking about earlier, that’s kind of how we define activation.

JENNY: Very helpful. So let’s say our strategy team has developed a wonderful strategic approach for one of our clients. Then hands it off to you for your team to be able to manage.

How do you develop and implement a plan? And how do you decide when to bring in each department and each group within the activation team? 

LINDSEY: Great question. That is like the million dollar question that I think every company has. We have this really great roadmap for what we wanna do. We don’t really know how to get it done.

And that’s where my team comes in. So first and foremost, what we always wanna think about is how we deliver on the strategy with the end goal in mind. So one of the critical steps that tends to get missed sometimes during those strategic planning sessions is not including an analytics team. If we’re not including an analytical [00:03:00] mind to really understand not only what key actions we want users to take, how are we going to measure that whole journey?

And what are the really important touch points throughout that? And having someone in your analytics team be part of those discussions, or at least be part of a very thorough download of those discussions, is always really helpful. That will really set the stage for when we bring in the other team members that are needed, be it media, development, UX, that they really have a firm understanding of what we’re trying to measure at the end of the day, how we are trying to show success and kind of work backwards from there.

What we’ve seen with a few other companies and other agencies that I’ve worked at is a lot of times these activation teams are siloed. A couple of examples are like development is almost always in their own little world, own little corner over there. And we kind of just bring them in when we need them to do development type stuff, but really including them as part of the activation process, especially if you’re developing something like a website they’re really [00:04:00] critical in that planning discussion early on, because they will have great ideas on how best to execute it in the most efficient way possible. And, with minimal disruption when we get down the line, because we always know we run up against deadlines.

If your developer is learning something for the first time and you’ve got a tight deadline, you’re kind of setting your team up to fail a little bit. So that’s one example.

JENNY: So one thing that I know we talk about with our clients often is that they’re struggling because they may have some expertise and subject matter expert in house for certain tactical areas.

And then they want to partner with an outside group for other areas. So how do you find those partnerships work best and how are they most productive for both sides? 

LINDSEY: Another million dollar question. Because this is what we do a lot of at Hedy & Hopp. So first, they can hire us.

But most importantly, it kind of goes back to analytics. So [00:05:00] making sure that at least an analytical mind is part of the conversations with those partnerships will just ensure that we’re all on the same page in terms of how we’re going to measure success. It’s pretty typical that we will work with agencies, for example, on the media side, where we are responsible for the digital side of things and they are responsible maybe for the most traditional side of things.

And the two really should be working together. That’s one of the issues we have. That siloed approach I mentioned earlier is that even within media, you’re siloed between your traditional outlets and your digital outlets, but really those two things should be working better together. So our approach to that is to make sure we always have an initial call with the current agency and understand not only roles and responsibilities, but also understand what the end goal is.

From our perspective, if we are looking at the digital side, what are some of the traditional tactics that they’re going have in market and how can digital best support that, expand upon that, [00:06:00] and connect with that so that we’re providing a more seamless experience for our users and our audience.

And they don’t feel like it’s disjointed experience. I would say challenges working with partner agencies in the past is that from a tracking analytics standpoint, they’ve got one way that they wanna do it. We’ve got one way that we wanna do. And it’s really hard to provide back to the client, which is the important person in the room, exactly how these things are working together.

So again, it goes back to starting from an analytics perspective and what we are trying to measure, what we are trying to achieve and ensuring that we can come to a consensus early on, on how best to present that back to the client. 

JENNY: For example, right now we have one client where we took time out to map their digital ecosystem because there were so many hands in the cookie jar that nobody really knew what the other person was doing.

That big picture understanding is definitely important. 

I’d love to hear [00:07:00] your perspective. You’ve been in the agency world for a while. I feel as though the way that large companies bring in agencies, there’s a pendulum reaction, right? At one point, the company wants to outsource everything to an agency partner and then the pendulum swings back the other way and they want to build an in-house team.

And that’s the cool thing that they want to do right now. What do you predict and think will happen over the next couple of years as organizations continue to fight this battle and technology keeps getting more and more tactical and difficult to understand and stay up to date with. 

LINDSEY: I can understand where a company is coming from, where they wanna bring all of that in house and it’s up to the company and what’s going to be best for their business.

But in my experience, it all comes down to talent. Who’s going to acquire the best kind of talent for what you really need to get done. I think, especially in healthcare where we’ve been running into issues now is that, [00:08:00] reaching our audience, whether it’s an HCP audience or a patient audience is so vastly different now than it was even two or three years ago.

And being able to acquire talent that understands the digital landscape specifically that understands and keeps a pulse on the emerging and changing technologies. And the opportunity is typically gonna come more from your agency partners, because that’s literally how we spend our days being in these programs in these platform and having access to that kind of research on a daily basis, that’s gonna provide them with the right kind of recommendation or the right approach to things. I think that something that might end up happening is companies will take a lot of the strategy and strategic planning in house.

They will hire an agency to help them on the activation side, again, putting all those puzzle pieces together, making sure all of those functions and roles are working well together. And then [00:09:00] they might have some people in house that are maybe more junior level that can literally do the implementation, following a plan.

But what I’ve realized is that there are certain types of skill sets that are needed in order to plan that activation. And that’s often the type of role that’s missing at companies and often the type of role that they don’t think is necessary. Because oh, we have a strategy. Then we can just go right to implementation.

The problem with that is there’s always that critical step in the middle, which is how are we gonna measure it? How are we defining success? Do we have the right people in the room that do for a living, to be able to set this up for success. And I’m not sure that companies are necessarily able to acquire that kind of talent and keep them on staff full time forever. I think that’s where they’re gonna run into a bit of a challenge.

JENNY: Let’s talk a little bit more about that planning step, because I feel like that is something that’s often overlooked and even something as simple as creating [00:10:00] dependencies and really understanding what needs to happen to reach those specific milestones. 

How do you and your team dig in to really complex projects and to be able to create a go-to-market plan or a project launch plan when there are so many moving pieces?

What advice would you give to somebody who maybe is at an in-house healthcare organization trying to do this for themselves? How would you suggest that they try to implement it?

LINDSEY: So thinking about like the best way to approach it or what we’ve seen success at least at Hedy & Hopp is transparency is going to beat everything. Especially if you’re trying to figure out the silos at an internal company or at companies where that typically happens. We can help break those down, or we need to figure out how to break those down in some capacity in order to do our job effectively.

But transparency, in terms of being able to look at the systems they’re currently using, we have a client right now that is using [00:11:00] a particular platform that we’ve never heard of. It’s a small startup company that they’re using, which is awesome. Love to support startups. But what I’ve run into in the past with maybe other companies is if we ask, Hey, can we take a look in the back end?

Can we do like a screen share and you could walk us through how this really works. We get a lot of resistance, because people are like, no, no, no, it’s our thing. And we don’t want you to try and take over. But again, it’s not about us taking over it’s about us understanding your current systems work so that we can come with a recommendation on knowing how these platforms work, knowing where you’re getting your data, allows us to better figure out for you how those pieces work together. And it allows us to better understand what to recommend so that we’re not recommending these wildly outlandish programs that can be really complex if you don’t have the support system or the systems in place to back it up, it’s not necessarily something that every company’s gonna be able to the same, which is why it’s so [00:12:00] critical that we do have transparency.

We do have access to the systems and the other agencies, because we want to make sure that what we’re bringing to the table is not only something that will work and something that we think will be successful, but also something that’s gonna work for them long term. It’s not gonna disrupt their whole process.

They don’t have to buy some extensive platform to get it done. We’re gonna help them figure out how to work with what they have, to get what they need.

JENNY: It reminds me of another recorded episode with Noah Locke. He runs analytics at University of Wisconsin Health. And one of the key piece of advice that he gave to other folks that were in house is make friends with everybody, make friends with everybody that are not in your department, make friends with the legal team, make friends with the compliance team, make friends with the IT team.

Because then when you do have to move into the planning stage, you know all the right people to pull into the room to understand what their processes look like. So you’re not surprised by a six week turnaround time to get a new contract [00:13:00] signed or something that you didn’t anticipate, because you didn’t know what questions to ask.

LINDSEY: I think providing the clients with some of those questions, like here’s why you should bring us to the conversation. We’re working with another client where it’s a very large organization and we work with just the local part of the organization. Trying to break through the barriers through access at the larger corporation has been pretty difficult, but explaining to them why this is needed and why this will help us. 

It’s not about us taking a look at what you’re doing and trying to do it better. It’s about taking a look at what you’re doing so how we execute at the local level for our loal clients, it’s working with what you’re already doing from the national perspective. We’re not here to disrupt and take over the world.

We’re just here to provide our clients what they need in the best way possible. And sometimes that means we kind of have to push a little bit and make an argument, make the case for it. We do start to see success little by little, which is really exciting. 

JENNY: [00:14:00] So, you know, our passion here at Hedy & Hopp is to improve patients’ access to care.

What has been your favorite campaign, project, or program that you have rolled out over the last year or so? 

LINDSEY: That’s a very tough one. Personally my passion when it comes to my profession and really when it comes to life, because work and life is so intertwined, is really to not only build a plan, that’s going to work, but to be able to see that plan really come to fruition. 

And so I don’t have a specific examples. I don’t wanna give any clients away, but I will say that being able to see your plan or your vision come to life is really exciting.

What’s even more exciting is that it’s not always things that I do myself. I may have been part of the process are leading the process into the end goal or what we’re trying to achieve. 

But seeing the team members [00:15:00] really start to get excited about what we could do. And start to like push themselves a little bit and say, oh, we could look at this from an SEO perspective.

And let’s turn that into a whole little mini campaign on its own because we’ve got this opportunity and just kind of seeing our team members work so well together and, and see those things come to life has just been, it’s just been really exciting. It’s been a very rewarding year. 

JENNY: That’s awesome. Well, thank you so much for being on today’s episode, Lindsey, it was a pleasure to have you as always. 

Listeners, we would love, love, love to have you subscribe to our channel. This is one of the early episodes of our podcast and it’s been gaining listeners and traction really fast.

We’d love to have you follow along in the journey. Thank you again for tuning in and we’ll see you soon on another episode. 


On today’s episode Jenny has invited the perfect guest to discuss the past few years of telehealth and automation development, along with looking at the current and future evolution of these technologies. Lauren Howard, Telehealth Expert, Digital Health Strategist, Startup Operations and Success Executive, and CEO of ElleTwo joins the show.

Both healthcare and non-healthcare companies were shifting slowly to digital and automated/tele-solutions for their customers, but when Covid arrived, the timeframe went from years to days as they scrambled to adjust. Now that there is some time to take a breath and reflect, these same organizations are now working to determine what is really needed and most effective. In the health sector, they are looking to put the ‘human back in healthcare.’ Lauren points out that now is the time to find the balance. The tools are there, but the tools without engagement with clinicians, support staff and providers leave patients lacking full quality care and follow up. Telehealth can be a supplement to care, and can provide more access, but is not a replacement for human-centered care.

The discussion goes more in depth on the flood of startup telehealth companies and how their initial success soon flamed out and how that impacts patient care. They discuss the appropriateness and limitations of telehealth in places like nursing homes, and inpatient vs. outpatient needs among all providers. Engagement, privacy, integration, training and turnover, the list is long when it comes to challenges that face health systems over the coming years. Lauren ends the show with invaluable advice on how organizations can build a groundwork to navigate these hurdles, along with her take on what is coming next!

Watch their discussion below or listen to the podcast, We Are Marketing Happy – a healthcare marketing podcast.

Other Links and Resources

Connect with Lauren on LinkedIn:

Connect with Jenny on LinkedIn:


Full Transcript:

JENNY: [00:00:00] Hi, I’m Jenny Bristow and I’m the CEO and founder of Hedy & Hopp, a healthcare marketing agency based in the Midwest. We started the, We Are, Marketing Happy podcast because of our passion for improving patients’ access to care. And understanding the innovations and shifts in the healthcare industry are key to making that happen.

Please follow share, and let us know what topics you’d like for us to cover next. Enjoy.

Hi, welcome to the We Are, Marketing Happy podcast, a healthcare marketing podcast where we talk about the technology and innovations that make patients lives easier. 

Today, I’m super excited to be joined by Lauren Howard. She is a expert in the digital health space and it’s a consulting company as well as the company ElleTwo.

We’re excited to have you today.

LAUREN: Thanks so much for having me. I’m so excited.

JENNY: So let’s jump [00:01:00] directly into it because we have a lot to discss. My marketing agency focuses a lot on patient acquisition and the consumer experience, but I love how what you do on the consulting side is much more on the operational and clinical side of digital health. 

So let’s set the stage around what you have seen happening over the last couple of years, from your perspective on the digital health telehealth scene. 

LAUREN: Yeah, absolutely. So I think it’s been a pretty interesting evolution and I think in 2019 we had customers that would tell us it was gonna take them years to implement telehealth, which was the timeline then. There just, there was no offense of urgency for it. And if there was, it was kind of a one-off scenario or, not typical scenario. Six to 12 months for implementation was really standard. Then obviously once the pandemic happened, people who told us the first week of March, 2020, that it would be a year, all of a sudden we’re launching in 48 hours. Obviously that made it very clear that this was all bureaucratic red tape forcing the organizational [00:02:00] timeline, which is the reality of working with large healthcare systems. And I get that. 

As we progressed over the next couple of years, I think obviously we saw this huge push toward digital health and to getting things as automated as possible, which was happening in the marketplace before, but nobody really took it seriously. It was very much piecemeal things that they were doing. So we had this heavy focus first on like get whatever solution you possibly can because we have to fix this immediately. Then to, you know, six months or a year into the pandemic, all right. Let’s find the right solution, as opposed to whatever was immediately available. 

And so there was a shift there, and it led a lot of companies, not necessarily healthcare organizations because I feel like healthcare organizations had a different perspective on it. But it led a lot of companies to really, really push towards super automated non-human oriented products. We were building things that could completely automate your check-in process or completely automate your patient acquisition process or all of these things that were supposed to [00:03:00] be AI driven and super automated.

And some things like that on the clinical side as well. Some AI driven tools. On the clinical side, and what I’m seeing more and more now, and what’s coming to me more in my own company, is people who are coming to me and saying, we want to put the human back in healthcare. We want to get the clinicians back in care management, rather than thinking that we’re gonna have an app do it now. 

Is it better when you have good tools? Absolutely. But good tools don’t do much if you don’t have a clinical infrastructure. Yep. And so we’re moving, I’m seeing a shift back toward that. It is not as, obviously as, as quick and hapless as the initial shift to telehealth was in March, 2020, which is probably a good thing, but I think we have tried really hard for two years to take the people out of things, which people who were in healthcare knew was never going to work. We could fix things. We could improve things. Well, you can’t take the clinicians and you can’t take the support step out of healthcare and think patients are going [00:04:00] to actually, you know, get the care that they need or follow throughout things.

I think that’s really what we’re seeing now. Those are the kinds of clients that are coming to us and saying okay, we’ve got the app, but now we need to figure out how to actually get providers engaged with it. We need to figure out how to get providers back into the ecosystem.

We need disenfranchised providers who have been burned out and overwhelmed by the last several years. And the, the conversation is shifting. A little bit, you know, toward this much more human centered, whether human centered is the patient or human centered is actually providing real care management with humans, as opposed to app centered care management, which I think people have been pushing toward in the last couple of years.

JENNY: Are you seeing more focus, interest, and success on synchronous or asynchronous solutions right now? 

LAUREN: That’s a really good question. From a telehealth perspective, It really, really depends on the [00:05:00] complexity of the care that needs to be delivered. I would not be surprised if the influx of asynchronous solutions really ramps downward over the next couple of years, because it’s just not the same as far as care delivery is concerned. And I don’t see as many companies trying to get into what is now a flooded marketplace and provide totally asynchronous care. There are people who are doing it. They’re doing it pretty well. They have a care model. I’d be very surprised if we see a whole lot more of that.

But I do have a lot of people coming to me saying, we need to figure out how to reintroduce synchronous care and obviously distance care that that for the most part, is a supplement to the in person care that they’re getting. There aren’t a lot of worlds where telehealth is enough care for somebody who isn’t a healthy 30 year old. No telehealth expert is going to tell you that telehealth is the answer for everything – it’s not.

Yeah. [00:06:00] It is a way to increase care. It is a way to reduce barriers to care, but it certainly does not actually undo the need for care in a lot of other situations. I, I think we’re gonna see a switch toward more synchronous care and I think a lot of that is going to be driven by whatever Medicare chooses to make official in whatever their next ruling is.

If they will actually cover synchronized telehealth for most use cases and CMS is behind it. Other payers will follow suit. It will be easier to get people who are over the age of 50 using telehealth. Yep. And we can do a better, we can do better education campaigns for those groups on how to make telehealth work.

Those groups are really the groups where you need the heavy clinical influence.

JENNY:  So, yeah, let’s talk a little bit about if you’re thinking about telehealth specifically as an industry, there have been so many specific use cases or specific problem solving telehealth [00:07:00] companies, and many have become unicorns.

And then, they have begun to lay off lots of people in the last six months. And then there’s also hospital systems and larger healthcare groups that are actually implementing telehealth as part of their practices, an extension of the clinician care. What similarities or differences do you see between these groups as far as the benefit to the patient?

LAUREN: There is a whole nother rant in me on VC funded care and those care models and people building healthcare companies with the idea that they would just go back and fundraise rather than having runway. I can rant about that forever. Let me just say there was never a healthcare company or a telehealth company worth 4 billion.

Not at least a new one. Let’s be honest. So, there are a lot of things that have happened in the telehealth space in the last couple of years that absolutely built a business [00:08:00] model model on a short term emergency. And yes, COVID’s gonna be around for a long time, but at some point we were gonna get to business as usual and people were not going to be desperate to get care on their phones.

And then also there’s this other competitive aspect of it. Where if you take a large investment from somebody nobody’s giving you money that they don’t want back. And so it creates this intense pressure to find care models that will deliver, and that means care models that other people aren’t doing for some reason.

And maybe it’s compliance, maybe it’s prescribing rules, maybe it’s just not ethical. So I think that’s why we have seen this huge combination of obviously the influx that it created with the pandemic, but also this really huge investment in flooding the market with money that had to be paid. You have to hit revenue targets to pay those things back. And if you have an inflated valuation, you have inflated revenue targets. [00:09:00] 

JENNY: And then whenever you begin expanding your services and focus outside of your core value proposition in order to meet those revenue targets, then you’re not doing what’s best on behalf of the patient.

LAUREN: Yeah, exactly.

And so, it’s not surprising to me that we have seen so many expansions and contractions and not to say that everybody made bad decisions or revenue driven decisions. I just. You know, it was a bunch of eager entrepreneurs who were building companies who easily got capital the first time and assumed it would be easy the second time.

And so they weren’t working with runway. They weren’t focused on the things that make it a healthy company. I saw a LinkedIn post yesterday that basically said we shouldn’t be celebrating capital raises because you have to pay that money back. Like, if you have a capital raise, it means your company’s not profitable.

I responded to it with like, can we be best friends? I think that’s the point, is it great that somebody believes in you enough to invest in the company? Yeah, but like, [00:10:00] let’s talk about that for what it is that’s taking on debt. With an idea that you’ll be able to pay it out at a huge multiple.

And how do you reach that huge multiple on the health system side of things. They struggle, but very differently, you know, you probably see how systems with six or eight different telehealth platforms because people think telehealth is telehealth. When the reality is ambulatory telehealth or outpatient telehealt or inpatient telehealth or residential telehealth or even telehealth that is geared toward geriatric patients. Or, telehealth that it’s geared toward young people, mental health, all of those have different needs. They have different workflows, they have different implementations. I’ve frequently seen telehealth being implemented in nursing homes, which is fine. Obviously if we can get more care or more availability of care in nursing homes, great. But you can’t do a patient based connection in a nursing home, because [00:11:00] who’s going to catch the link. If you have a patient that has severe dementia, they’re certainly not going to be operating a mobile phone or an iPad to get on the visit.

And then you have high turnover, sometimes the staff doesn’t know how to use the system and you don’t even necessarily know what patients are available to be seen that day because they change. So you need something. That’s basically like an open ended video connection that can be, that can go from room and that doesn’t require tools for charting.

It doesn’t require patient IDs. It doesn’t require names and dates of birth. It requires secure links and you want telehealth connection to always to be secure, but we don’t need to credential in for that. And when you add these security features that make telemedicine so secure that it’s safe to use when the patient’s at home and the provider’s at the office or wherever you actually preclude nursing home patients from using that system, because it’s, there’s no way to really easily build [00:12:00] that structure.

And so I think that’s really the challenge in the health system perspective is a lot of times they go into procurement thinking we’re gonna get in the one platform that’s gonna serve all of our patients. And if you don’t have somebody who truly understands kind of the dynamism of telehealth and health in the same way that a psychiatrist exam room is different than a general practitioner exam room.

The telehealth platform has to represent those differences. It can get really muddy. And so, there’s a lot of pressure within the health system environment to integrate with existing systems that nobody’s using. You know, the, the uptake on some of these patient portals and these patient engagement systems is really low.

But then to use telehealth, they often kind of force patients to get information through those systems that they are resistant to using to begin with. Whereas if you were to just set it up so that somebody within the office can send out a link patient can click the link and get in without having to [00:13:00] get all of their notifications through whatever this primary system is, you’re, you’re reducing friction. You’re not increasing it. So I think that’s really the challenge on the health system side. And we’re gonna probably be seeing that for a while.

JENNY: Interesting. So what advice would you give to a health system? If they were looking at moving into procurement to be able to begin identifying telehealth systems for their different lines of business or service lines, what advice would you give them to be able to properly understand the needs?

LAUREN: Don’t have your C-suite or your procurement VPs making the decisions? Not that they should make the final decision. What I used to see all the time was the high level people make the decision without consulting the people who are actually using the system. And then they would never launch because the people who would use the system would go, there’s no way this is gonna work in our environment.

This doesn’t replicate anything that we’re doing right now. And it’s way too cumbersome, or we we’re missing information, or we have to make phone calls in advance because the [00:14:00] telehealth system doesn’t have enough information in it. And so first thing is really, really look. Who’s launching telehealth.

And when? If you’re doing a phased launch, that’s great, but we should be talking to everybody in those phases to make sure you are getting as new system as soon as possible. And also recognize when you have somebody that has a telehealth need that absolutely does not align with anybody else’s and maybe it makes sense to do a smaller contract for a smaller group than to try to force a square tag into a round hole with another system.

I would really advise, find somebody who knows telehealth in all its iterations. So they can say, this is not system I would use. I think it’s gonna be cumbersome. Everybody, but dermatology will love the system. Dermatology needs a system that’s gonna give them access to high quality cameras.

So they can really look at lesions and abrasions and things like that. Yeah. And that’s just an example put out in there, but that’s the kind of stuff that people don’t think about. And that’s what usually leads to failures [00:15:00] to launch. 

Jenny: So what do you see is coming up next with innovations or movement in this industry?

Do you think are going to either change the landscape or allow for better patient adoption over the next couple of years?

LAUREN: Yeah. I think two things are gonna happen. And I think we’re already seeing a little bit, actually, we’re seeing a little bit of both already, but first thing is we are gonna get away from a bunch of multipurpose telehealth platform.

I don’t think we’re gonna have 10, 15, 20 major players for general practice telehealth or multi-specialty telehealth. I don’t think we’re gonna see a lot more investment in that or new companies. And I think we might actually see contraction. I think companies are gonna start absorbing each other.

This is entirely my hypothesis, not proven by anything entirely. The other side of it is, I think what we are gonna [00:16:00] see that new innovative companies that are highly successful are very much niche based. So they’re gonna find their patient population. It may be a small one, but a small one that has historical trouble getting care.

And so they’re going to be willing to invest in their own care because it’s available to them through a ervice.And you will see really, really successful niche environments like programs specifically for diabetics programs, specifically for people with autoimmune disease. Maybe even beyond that like program specifically for people with rheumatoid arthritis or lupus or something like that.

So that care is becoming very much centralized to what the patient actually needs. And you can go find your environment because overall we’re seeing people moving toward. Communities that they’re comfortable in and this kind of global idea that it’s okay to be whoever you are, find the people that support that.

And I think healthcare’s gonna move in that direction as [00:17:00] well, which is you don’t need to go to a doctor who specializes in every gastroenterological illness. You can go to this doctor who specializes in and who speaks your language. And so exactly, I think we’re really gonna see pushes toward that kind of very niche based care from a digital perspective that supplements the in person care that you may be getting from your general practitioner.

JENNY: Well, Lauren, thank you so much for being on today. I’m gonna link to your LinkedIn profile so folks can reach out to you. That’d be great. But how else, how else can folks reach out to you? 

LAUREN: Yeah, so my LinkedIn, I’m active on there all the time. My email address is on my website, as well as my LinkedIn.

You can shoot me a LinkedIn message. My assistant is also available on LinkedIn and link through my page and she is awesome way easier to get than me. If you need anything from me, reach out to her and one of us will be available.

JENNY: Awesome. Well, thank you. I look forward to [00:18:00] following along and seeing which of your predictions, if not all of them, come true.

LAUREN: Thank you so much for having me on. Take care.


As technology and marketing tools advance, changes continue to come to hospitals, patients, and the people that connect them. Today, Jenny welcomes Dustin Horn, Associate Director of Digital Marketing and Communications at Siteman Cancer Center.

Dustin discusses different tools and platforms that he has found to be helpful in connecting and caring for clients. Having been at Siteman for over twelve years, he has seen the large shift and impacts that technology has brought to the health sector. Social media has allowed them to discover patients who have serious medical issues that they may be able to help, and it has made it easier for patients to find them. Automated chat and live chat have also been a successful tool in gaining new patients.

He also looks ahead and talks about the adoption of wearables to really make an impact in the patient-doctor relationship. This of course hinges on certain factors like accessibility, affordability and trust of data sharing. Jenny reminds us that with change and innovation, can often come with frustration. Dustin believes it isn’t so much the technology but how it’s utilized and how it functions will ultimately decide which technologies thrive.

Later in the episode listen as Dustin describes some of the most rewarding accomplishments of his career, some of the more frustrating ones, and his advice on the most important characteristic you can have if you want to succeed in marketing.

Watch their discussion below or listen to the podcast, We Are Marketing Happy – a healthcare marketing podcast.

Other Links and Resources

Connect with Dustin on LinkedIn:

Connect with Jenny on LinkedIn:


Full Transcript:

JENNY: [00:00:00] Hi, I’m Jenny Bristow and I’m the CEO and founder of Hedy & Hopp, a healthcare marketing agency based in the Midwest. We started the, We Are, Marketing Happy podcast because of our passion for improving patients’ access to care. And understanding the innovations and shifts in the healthcare industry are key to making that happen.

Please follow share, and let us know what topics you’d like for us to cover next. Enjoy.

Hi friends. Welcome to We Are, Marketing Happy, a healthcare marketing podcast. Each episode we talk about how technology and innovation can help make healthcare easier and better for patients. Today, we’re talking to Dustin Horn, the Associate Director of Digital Marketing and Communications from Siteman Cancer Center.

Dustin has been in marketing at Siteman Cancer Center for over 12 years, giving him an interesting perspective on the innovations that have happened in patient care and engagement. So let’s get into it. 

So Dustin, I’m [00:01:00] really excited to hear your perspective about what platforms and tools you think have shifted the way patients access care during your career.

I mean, technology is completely different than it was 12 years ago. What do you think has made the biggest impact? 

DUSTIN: Yeah, that was kind of my thought initially was that maybe my perspective was a little bit dated, although I know, many of my colleagues in healthcare have been around a long time.

From my perspective, it’s really been social media, by far, that has been the most influential. I can think of a number of instances where patient care was actually affected, but I think maybe one of the most interesting or compelling ones was a number of years ago. 

This was maybe as many as seven or eight years ago. We had a tweet. We had a follower of ours who was just very active in retweeting and messaging us and someone that he was connected with [00:02:00] sent something out about their child having a certain type of cancer and wondering if anyone could help. And he replied to them and he tagged us in the tweet.

And when I looked at it, I thought, wow, you know, sounds compelling. It looks legitimate. I think this is something we might be able to help with. I took the message and I sent it over to one of our pediatric oncologists and that doctor was, yeah, I think we could help. I think this would be a good instance of where we could intervene here. And I said, okay, great. 

So we used Twitter to exchange contact information and connect those folks with that particular doctor. And those instances happen all the time, frankly, people probably share a little bit more private health information or protected health information than they should on social media at times.

But at the same time, you can understand that, um, sort of the anxiety and difficult nature of health [00:03:00] issues, particularly serious ones like cancer people do reach out on social media tools. And so that’s been a big one where we’ve connected people with those. I think another big one really be AI or chat bots, anything around that.

Some health systems have really focused on the voice recognition piece. And I haven’t really delved into that a whole lot myself, but I’ve heard from other health systems that have. We use AI more in the form of a chat bot that also allows for live chat as well. That’s been a big one.

We actually get quite a few people who are happy to then become patients based on the interaction that happened on that live chat and even somewhat on the chat bot itself. We’re able to use our normal call center and use the HIPAA protected setup there to keep everyone safe and the information safe.

So it’s been a real boost to us as well, sort of meeting [00:04:00] patients where they’re at. Finally, the last thing would be, you know, things like MyChart, epic, where people can schedule, or even send emails. I personally have used that tool quite a bit to even schedule primary care health appointments personally, but probably the biggest one has been social media.

JENNY: Yeah, it’s really interesting how it allows people to feel like they’re taking more control and being more in charge of finding care. Right? It is shocking how advanced AI has become where tech bots can be more intelligent. I never really thought I’d see a day where it would be this successful. So, yeah, it’s interesting.

So. What do you think is next? What’s the next big innovation? What have you been watching? What have you seen in other systems, maybe on a trial basis that you are either considering doing or have been interesting to you personally?

DUSTIN: Yeah. So I’ve thought about this a lot in my career.

Where I work, Siteman, is part of Washington University, School of Medicine. It’s a very entrepreneurial [00:05:00] campus in the mindset of the physicians and researchers, many people on campus are very entrepreneurial. And, so where could we be out on the, the leading edge and really many Washington University doctors have pioneered new therapies, things that are used across the world today.

So I think about that in our space as well. And let’s say the past five years, one of the big ones was Google Glass, right? This was one of the big things that was going to happen.

And, we’re going to leverage this in healthcare and I saw some great presentations on it. The problem was the adoption of Google Glass never really took off. And so I think it’s not really new, but probably the next thing is the way wearables interact with healthcare.

The problem is that piece about access [00:06:00] and who can afford. A really good wearable today that has the ability to transmit information in certain ways, that are most effective, is maybe not where it needs to be. The other part is also just understanding how wearables work, even just sometimes that small screen is very difficult to know when it’s on and what it’s tracking and when, so I think that’s part of the issue. 

But I think overall wearables will probably be one of the biggest things. That’s not really super new. Righ? We’ve been talking about that for some time. I hate to give kind of a non-answer, but I think what it comes down to is what kind of technology are being really adopted by users holistically.

Because therein lies the next path for healthcare, as a healthcare marketer and somebody who’s been interested in technology for a long time. You think about, [00:07:00] the iPhone social media, which we just discussed. Those are the things that once they had widespread adoption by the general public, then healthcare started to move in and utilize those things.

Whether it be the iPhone or Android, or these app stores right now, we started launching apps and they’re really useful. A lot of healthcare companies are. And technology companies are involved in partnering together to develop better apps and some of those work with the wearables. So I think it’ll come down to, if we can get even wider adoption of those of the wearable technologies and people’s willingness to then utilize those tools effectively and share their data with their providers.

I think if we can build the trust necessary for that, I think that would probably be one of the big things. And then as we were talking about, I think there’s going to be new developments with a AI, maybe that I can’t foresee today that could potentially be even bigger than chat bots.


JENNY: So we’re talking about all of this technology and the exciting things it’s going to bring, but it’s probably gonna bring a whole bunch of headaches first. So what has been your biggest frustration specifically with marketing related technology and have you found any ways over the last 12 years to really overcome those frustrations, to leverage the tools more effect.

DUSTIN: So again, I, I would kind of tilt this question a little bit differently and say that it’s not as much a frustration with the technology itself. It’s maybe of a frustration with leveraging it as effectively as possible in the healthcare space. What I mean by that is thinking about marketing automation and CRM in these types of things.

This is fairly easy to do. Don’t get me wrong. I’m not trying to characterize it as anyone can do it, but if you have the right people in place doing marketing automation and your CRM is not overly difficult to do [00:09:00] when you don’t have to be overly careful about protecting information or communicating at a bad time.

With healthcare, how terrible would it be for you to get the wrong message at the wrong time in via a marking automation platform? It could just be so detrimental to your relationship with the patient, right? And so these things have to be done really carefully and then integrating them and keeping all of the the protected health information actually protected.

It’s a frustration and so it’s not really the technology that’s the problem. It’s being able to integrate it effectively in the healthcare space and then leverage it to its full measure in healthcare. Due to the nature of what we do, of having to make sure our messaging is correct.

It is accurate. [00:10:00] It is timely. And that it’s not going to fall at the wrong time. Also that we’re protecting individuals information. So I think, I think that’s the biggest frustration

JENNY: So, that completely makes sense. When I think that about the new technology coming out, and even things like understanding HIPAA and hitech, our roles are continuously shifting. As marketers in healthcare, what training or tools do you use to make sure that you’re staying up to date, both around regulations around what you do, and then also the technical components?

DUSTIN: You know, it’s interesting. The old saying – the best way to learn is to teach. And so really the way I stay on top of it is I actually teach digital marketing at a local liberal arts university. I’ve done that since about 2018. That is really how I stay on top of it. There’s nothing more compelling about having to be right than, than marking points off somebody’s score and, and you being wrong when you [00:11:00] mark those points off.

Right. And then coming back and say, actually, that’s not true. So you have to stay up to date really just for your own your own safety in those situations. And so that’s one of the main ways, it forces me to continue to learn myself, because if I’m going to teach, I have to really be also learning. You know, my boss always said too, that I’m teaching at our organization.

And so I work at one of the premier research institutions in the entire world, a national leader in cancer care. So you might guess that we have a few brilliant people around. And so when you’re in the place of teaching brilliant people, that’s a challenging spot to be in and you have to have a great deal of patience with it.

Many of those people are very accomplished themselves. They’re also excellent learners- that’s how they sort of got to where they are. And they’ll challenge you in ways that if you don’t have [00:12:00] the stomach for it could be very difficult. So between being challenged by my students and being challenged by my colleagues, I have to continually learn and absorb information. Couple of the ways I do that is certain websites I rely on, but even more so is conferences, relationships I have throughout the industry, really just staying plugged in with the right people and those who I know put out quality information.

And I don’t really lean on any one piece, any more so than the other. I’d like to accumulate as much information as I can from as many resources I can. Even sometimes information will come from places you don’t expect. It’ll just be in a meeting and you’ll overhear something that really changes how you think and how you go about it.

And so I, I think it’s really just keeping a learner’s mindset all of the time. And as I said, being a little bit on your toes [00:13:00] for the challenges that you might undertake when you’re teaching.

JENNY: Yep. I, I think you’d be phenomenal professor to have, it would be fun to sit in on one of your classes.

DUSTIN: well, unfortunately it’s online only. So I do video lectures, but it’s not the same level of of great interaction that you might have if you’re standing in front of a classroom. I do wish it was like that, but I don’t live particularly close to the university. So that would be a little tricky.

Aalso then obviously after 2020, courses went online, but I was teaching online already. I do hope one day to teach a little bit in person. I think it would be fun to bring in, much like this podcast scenario or bring in other experts and have them talk. I think it would bring a new perspective. So I, I hope to one day be to do that myself. 

JENNY: Okay. So 12 years at Siteman, let’s step back, big picture. What is the biggest accomplishment you’re most proud of? [00:14:00] At this point that you feel like had the most positive impact on patients. Cause that story about Twitter was so meaningful.

You could have literally changed that family’s life trajectory. So what have you done in your career that you can step back and say, yeah, I did that.

DUSTIN: That’s a really big one. I would have to say that it’s really revolutionizing the whole of my institution’s digital footprint and communication to take it way back.

When I arrived at Siteman, it had a completely out of date website. Then there was a new site sitting on a test server waiting for me to launch it back in those days, I was actually doing some hand code HTML and CSS. There wasn’t a bunch of money to spend with agencies and that sort of thing.

You know, the digital shift hadn’t really happened in a big way in healthcare at that time. And so getting resources was really hard. So the [00:15:00] biggest impact I would say is really just changing that website. Changing the social media footprint as well. I launched our Twitter page. I took over our Facebook account at the time.

Certainly many others that I’ve hired and worked with have contributed to, especially the social media in a big way, but it’s really changed the mindset at the organization. And that’s been something I’ve been proud of my entire career prior to healthcare. I was in news.

And I remember, it’s easier to tell stories about jobs that you don’t have anymore than it is about jobs you currently have, because your colleagues might hear these things and, I would hate for them to take it the wrong way. But, at a previous job, I remember it upset somebody that I had, the job that I had in the newsroom. I think because the person I replaced was one of his friends and for sure, he came to me one day or I, I went up to ask him a question and he gives me this sort of terrible look and he goes, what do you even do? And I was like, oh, [00:16:00] okay. Well, that’s nice. And I said, I’ve been accused of, of being a little bit quick with a response

And so I said, I do a whole lot more than you know. I left it at that and I walked away. And then what happened was we had an incident, a major incident in town that happened. It would be small news in a big town but it was really big news for the small town.

And so the story came up and he came to me and he goes Dustin, what do we do with this? And it was funny. He was like, I thought you were asking me what I even do. I don’t know why you’re asking me what I’m supposed to do with this. But I didn’t twist the, you know, too much. I just went ahead.

I said, you know, I know exactly what we can do with this. I said, we, I can build a section on the website. So you funnel me as much information as you can. I’ll do it as breaking news and we’ll just keep doing updates. Well, we drove so much traffic. We shut down the servers for the entire news organization that had [00:17:00] like something like 10 locations!

It was what people wanted at the time. They wanted to see imagery. They wanted updates. And even though we couldn’t give them everything they wanted, it was enough to keep them hooked and keep them coming back. And so people more and more people were sharing the URL. Very similar things have happened in my current role.

Very similar sort of what, what is the value of this? I don’t know why we’re doing it. Why would I dedicate my time to it? That was in the early days of digital communication. And so I would say it’s sticking with it. Building that trust by doing really good work. And as a result, just like that individual at that news organization came around to, we ended up being great friends and he really believed in the work I did after that, the same thing has happened in my current role.

And today we have massive buy in from some of the biggest names of medicine. They don’t hesitate to jump in when we ask for their help. They know the value cause they hear it from their [00:18:00] patients. They know that they’re looking at at the things we do. And they also hear about it from their colleagues around the country when they go to meetings.

So. I’ll end it with this. When I arrived at Siteman, it was not surprising to walk in a meeting with executives or physicians or physician executives, and hear strong criticism of the website to your face. Today, that criticism doesn’t exist. Instead people are complimenting and then asking what they can do to help you build it better.

That change is probably what I would sort of hang my career at Siteman on.

JENNY: A lot of patient experiences have been impacted by that, for sure. So what are you doing right now? What’s your big initiative? What are you hoping to accomplish in the next year or two?

DUSTIN: I think the biggest thing is tracking our marketing in a new way. We really need to understand as [00:19:00] healthcare marketers holistically, what it is we do that actually has an impact on our audience. And this is not just about making revenue, right? Of course that’s important. You know, we need to pay our doctors and staff and nurses and stuff, but we also need to really mee the audience needs for patients.

And so we can’t do that if we’re not tracking and understanding what resonates with them. And today, you still have this sort of talk between digital and traditional and what’s more effective and what’s going to work. And we do have locations in St. Louis, obviously. So it’s this thing where we do have some rural markets that really traditional might actually perform better with certain groups there as to where digital is going to play better with this other group. And then sometimes we just make assumptions about that. Right? We don’t actually know the facts. We make assumptions about which one’s going to work. If we’re tracking marketing holistically through looking at digital lift. [00:20:00] Using custom URLs, vaity URLs, custom phone numbers, and that sort of thing, not for the purpose of tracking people and trying to tie that to actual individuals.

We almost never do that. It’s really not the motivation. The motivation is really to understand what resonates. And so if we know that when we go into a market about this particular type of cancer, this cancer screening or this just general awareness project, and we put these tracking mechanisms on it, we pull it in the dashboards.

We can look at pretty quickly what worked and what didn’t. And I think when you’re talking about tight budgets, when you’re talking about proving ROI, this is what will really revolutionize how we consider our spends and how it might actually change a spend in one piece of our market versus how we spend in another piece of our market.

So that has been a goal of mine [00:21:00] for quite some time and it remains the goal of mine until we get it to a point where it’s hard coded into how we work every day. But that’s not how it is today. And so it’s really continue to get buy in on educating people on the importance of it and showing leadership why it’s important and how it can help us be more effective.

JENNY: We hear so many different healthcare providers and systems focusing on the same thing, but whenever you have all of these competing priorities and all of these different groups speaking into those priorities, how do you, as a marketing leader, decide what to prioritize each year as you going into budgeting decisions? And what tips do you have for anybody else in healthcare marketing around the decision trees or processes to be able to figure out what makes it into this year’s budget versus what unfortunately may have to be pushed.

DUSTIN: That’s maybe the [00:22:00] toughest question you’ve asked. I would go about it like this, and maybe this isn’t even just for marketing, right? This is really for all of life to really think that you’re going to make a plan. And that that plan is going to be executed without interruption, without change is something that only we as humans are naive enough to believe, right? It just never happens. I’ve made some excellent plans, both at work and in my personal life that were just man, they were really good. I don’t know that any of them have ever turned out exactly as I envisioned. And, and that’s probably best, no matter how good the planning was.

So we do make a plan, a roadmap each year about what we’d like to do. But we’re also wise enough to pivot when needed. And also we have to respond to the needs of the organization. Sometimes even the needs of the patient might change. Inevitably, everything we’re doing is for the [00:23:00] patient though.

So what I would say is that when those distractions start to come in, you really have to look at the things that really aren’t negotiable to you. My dad said one time, I was talking to him about making some plans and to go out of town or to go camping or something. And he goes, yeah, Dustin, sometimes you just gotta, you know, make the plans and just do it.

You don’t let the distraction or whatever comes up, stop it. You just, you just make the plans and you just do it no matter what. And I would say you should probably have a thing or two like that on your list. It doesn’t matter what happens. You’re going to do. The tracking piece is like that.

So I might make plans to reevaluate a paid search budget, for example, Hey, there’s probably gonna be increased competition this year in this particular campaign, you know, really need to build a case for giving an additional funding. While that’s very important, that [00:24:00] is sort of a smaller impact, in my opinion. Having this bigger tracking project completed changes all the other roadmaps from here on out, right?

This campaign thing is sort of a flash in the pan. And I don’t even know for sure that the competition will increase, but what I do know for sure is that if we don’t get the tracking, if we don’t understand what people are responding to and what they’re not responding to, that we will continue to guess in our marketing.

And as we continue to guess, we’ll inevitably have waste of time, waste of money, waste of general resources. And so there’s certain things that you say will change every other plan from here on out and this won’t. And so the things that will change every other plan are the things that I prioritize that are really not negotiable. 

That doesn’t mean that I’m dropping my shoulder and running into people with it, but it means that I’m continuing to bring it [00:25:00] up, throughout the year, at the right time or what I perceive as the right time with other decision makers, key opinion leaders, KOLs, that that will help me get to the finish line. It doesn’t mean that I’m running over people with it, or I’m bringing it up every meeting. It means that I’m continually preaching the importance of it in how it will change things. So it may not even happen by the end of the year, but if I’m keeping it moving along, then it inevitably it will happen.

So that’s sort of how I do it is I look at what’s going to impact every other plan from here on out. And I try to mark those things as not negotiable.

JENNY: That’s a really smart way to tackle it. I really appreciate that perspective. So last question, and this is one that I have been curious about your perspective on. Siteman’s a super well known and well respected brand, not just throughout the United States, but globally.

Do you think that makes your job harder or easier or both?

DUSTIN: I think the easy answer [00:26:00] is both. Probably where it gets nuanced is you have to talk about which project it is because the resourcing determines at what level you can do a project. So the good part is by working at Siteman is youre always selling a good product, right? You always selling something that you can believe in. I really believe that patients will be better for engaging with our system. That they will do better by coming to our doors or at least getting a second opinion from us and that it will impact them in a positive way.

So when you truly believe that, and I believe it, cause I’ve seen it, then that makes things much easier because you don’t have to question the motive behind what you’re doing. Also, because of the recognition, it’s fairly easy to sell also, because people know Siteman as being a great place.

Where it gets a little [00:27:00] bit trickier is sometimes there is this assumption that because of your great reputation and sort of being known widely that then you have unlimited resources. I think sometimes the idea of how money flows in healthcare leads people to think that marketing budgets are really high.

And that I’m personally earninga bucket of a monstrous amount of money and that I’m spending monstrous amounts of money and wow. It must be a nice kind of thing, but that’s really not the reality. And so I think at times people expect more from what I would consider to be a small project, because we don’t have always have the resources to do it at the level that I wish we could.

So that’s kind of what I would say. It just depends on the way you look at it and the situation in which you look at it. It’s both, it helps sometimes [00:28:00] is a little bit of a hindrance others.

JENNY: So anything that we have not talked about that you think is worthwhile sharing that our listeners would wanna know.

DUSTIN: If I could share one bit of thought or advice that, that has gotten me through. I work at a matrix organization, right? So this means we have BJC Healthcare. We have Washington University School of Medicine. We have Washington University Physicians, and these are kind of all related institutions, but separate sort of entities within and of themselves.

That makes for a lot of people to keep happy. You won’t ever keep everyone happy. I think we’re probably at this point in our lives to realize that, but the biggest thing that you can cultivate the biggest personality trait that you can cultivate, that I think will be an indication of whether you’re going to do well or you’re going to enjoy your work is your level of patience to do this work really well. 

You [00:29:00] have to be patient and timing is vital. And if you can be patient, and work on the timing and get that right, tou will get it right a hundred percent of the time, but you’ll be far more successful than if you are the type of person that has a really tough time with patience.

If you aren’t patient, healthcare marketing may not be the best field for you. But if you have patience and you can bring that with you as a tool in your personality and how you approach your work every day, I think you’ll find that that patience will be rewarded in a very meaningful way.

If healthcare marketing is a call to you, a call in your life and something that you’re compelled to do because of how you care for people – and not saying that if you’re not in healthcare marketing, you don’t care about people – for many people this is the way in which they express that.

But [00:30:00] with it, you know, we wanna make the changes now. Not wait. But if you have the patience for it and you can stick with it, some things take a little while, but it’s worth the payoff. That’s kind of the last thing I would say is that patience is key to being successful. 

JENNY: It’s slowly pivoting a slow, a big ship at sea isn’t it? No sudden movements. 

DUSTIN: Yeah. that’s right.

JENNY: Well, Dustin, thank you so much for being on our podcast today for our listeners. We’ll be sure to link Dustin’s LinkedIn profile in the show notes. If you wanna connect with him. And thanks for tuning in to the, We Are, Marketing Happy podcast. We’ll see you soon.


Today’s episode is so timely and so important to listen to. Jenny is joined by Bonyen Lee-Gilmore, Vice President of Strategy and Communications at Planned Parenthood of the St. Louis Region and Southwest Missouri. They have a wide-ranging discussion on the dynamics in the country, and in individual states, post-Roe.

Bonyen breaks down the current deluge of misinformation, and the many challenges that women are facing in a state like Missouri. From an almost total ban, the fear that even many types of contraception will soon be on the chopping block, the pushback on those seeking sterilization services, to fake pregnancy centers staffed by anti-abortion activists. She also talks about Illinois being a critical access state, how they keep up with all the changing rules and regulations, and some troubling trends in digital media platforms whose overreaching algorithms block critical information.

Listen ‘til the end to find out about Planned Parenthood’s Brands Against Bans, teaming with businesses to use their brands to support sexual and reproductive healthcare. 

Watch their discussion below or listen to the podcast, We Are Marketing Happy – a healthcare marketing podcast.

Other Links and Resources – Online tool that allows individuals across the country to understand what is accessible in their own states and neighboring states
Regional Logistics Center – Resource for individuals traveling to access an abortion to receive transportation and housing assistance

Connect with Bonyen on LinkedIn:

Connect with Jenny on LinkedIn:


Full Transcript:

JENNY: [00:00:00] Hi, I’m Jenny Bristow and I’m the CEO and founder of Hedy & Hopp, a healthcare marketing agency based in the Midwest. We started the We Are, Marketing Happy podcast because of our passion for improving patients’ access to care. And understanding the innovations and shifts in the healthcare industry are key to making that happen.

Please follow share, and let us know what topics you’d like for us to cover next. Enjoy.

Hi friends. Welcome to the We Are, Marketing Happy podcast, a healthcare marketing podcast. We focus and talk about the technology and innovation that helps improve patients’ access to care. Today I am super excited because I’m joined by, Bonyen Lee Gilmore. She is the Vice President of Strategy and Communications of planned parenthood of the St. Louis and Southeast Missouri region. So welcome Bonyen. [00:01:00] I’m so happy to have you on today. 

BONYEN: Thank you so much for having me. I’m super excited. 

JENNY: So let’s jump right into the question that I’m sure everybody’s interested in hearing about. Sands have been shifting underneath you and the work that you’re doing continuously this year, especially since the most recent Supreme court ruling.

I think what I’d love to do to start off is just talk a little bit about fact versus fiction. There’s so much misinformation and uncertainty out there, right? For patients, as far as understanding what is it isn’t accessible from a birth control perspective, what is, and isn’t accessible if they live in a red state, you know, or an accessible state. Lay it out for us.

BONYEN: Yeah. Thank you for that question because when, whenever there’s big news around sexual and reproductive healthcare, particularly around abortion, there’s a lot of misinformation that swirls. So the fact is today, unfortunately, because of the Dobbs V Jackson case abortion is illegal in the state of Missouri.[00:02:00] 

However, misinformation we saw circulate pretty quickly after that decision dropped was that birth control and emergency contraception and IVF are now outlawed. That is untrue. Birth control, emergency contraception, IVF – these reproductive healthcare options are still legal in the state of Missouri.

And they were legal before Roe was overturned and they are legal after Roe was overturned. Now is that to say that the politicians aren’t gonna go after birth control next? Of course that we already know that politicians in Missouri and several other states are already taking aim at birth control. And we know that’s probably next on the chopping block, but for now it remains legal.

It remains accessible in the state of Missouri. Birth control and emergency contraception prevent pregnancy, as you know, and this is often purposely conflated by anti-abortion [00:03:00] politicians to suggest that they somehow end pregnancies. They don’t, they prevent pregnancies, they’re safe and they are legal in the state.

JENNY: So we have listeners from all across the country. So do you have any resources or places online that you’d recommend folks go to be able to understand what they can and can’t access within their own states? 

BONYEN: Yeah. So is a really handy tool for people to understand particularly how to navigate your way to abortion care.

If you live in a banned state there’s also the Regional Logistics Center work that we do. You can go to and read about the Regional Logistics Center, which is a case management patient navigation program that we launched at our Illinois health center. As folks may or may not know, Illinois is a critical access state right now.

It is an island. Almost every state around it has either banned abortion or has extremely draconian [00:04:00] restrictions in place. And in the next year, we will see about 14,000 additional patients coming from outside of Illinois, access abortion in Southern Illinois. And so the regional logistics center takes care of travel.

It takes care of lodging. It connects patients with financial aid resources and really. Arranges that wraparound care that is now so critical in the work to ensure abortion access. 

JENNY: That’s amazing. I’m such a big fan of the RLC and the work that y’all are doing there. You should be very proud of it. It’s definitely gonna change a bunch of lives. 

As we know Planned Parenthood actually does a lot of phenomenal things outside of abortion care. But how do you stay up to date as the sands are shifting underneath you legally regarding what you can and can’t promote in what you can and can’t do?

I mean, especially with your [00:05:00] region, you have so many states right here, and then I know a bunch of other Planned Parenthood affiliates also have multi-state regions. How do you stay up to date? 

BONYEN: We have really excellent lawyers. Anybody who works in the healthcare field knows, right?

We can’t operate without our lawyers breathing down our neck every day. And you know, we are really focused on blending the healthcare work and the advocacy of healthcare. And isn’t a political issue. Yeah, it shouldn’t be. But the reality is, is that anti – reproductive healthcare politicians are forcing it into a political space where it’s quite frankly unreasonable to be talking about healthcare provisions with non-healthcare providers.

But that’s our reality, right? And there are tons of medically unnecessary restrictions targeted at people who need reproductive healthcare access, capable people are discriminated [00:06:00] against and targeted at rates that male bodied patients don’t necessarily see or experience. I’ll give you a really good example.

Our organization has an advanced OBGYN program where we offer vasectomies and tubal ligations, and we’ve seen sterilization requests go through the roof since roe was overturned. And what we’re also seeing is a ton of patients who live in rural Missouri, who are getting turned the away for this care by their doctors.

Because their doctors want to make paternalistic decisions for them about if they’re ready to stop having more kids or if they they’re ready to make a decision about not having kids. And so the layers of restrictions and discrimination are real and don’t just pertain to abortion care. They pertain to the full spectrum of sexual and reproductive healthcare.

JENNY: I’m in a variety of women’s [00:07:00] groups online. There’s actually a couple of underground spreadsheets going around of OBGYNs who are willing to do sterilization procedures regardless of your age or the number of children that you have. And it is kind of crazy that we live in a world where you have to have a spreadsheet with OBs that are willing to do that.

BONYEN: You know, I just truly don’t even understand why it has to be an underground issue. Black women who established reproductive justice really solidified the idea that every person should have the right to decide whether they want to have a kid, not to have a kid and to raise the kid they have in safety.

And this should be every person’s right – to decide without any sort of judgment from anyone other than that person in their family. 

JENNY: I know you have a team that manages digital for you, but I know that Meta and Google have made all of these decisions around what they do and don’t allow on the platform. How have been managing and pivoting that and are there any trends or [00:08:00] things that you’ve seen specifically with these platforms? 

BONYEN: Yeah. Okay. I’m gonna tell the audience that Jenny did not pay me to say this, but your team helps us tremendously. Because we are reproductive healthcare experts, but we are not digital marketing experts.

So I couldn’t do it without the Hedy & Hopp team. You did not pay me to say that, but you deserve the shout out. Thank you. 

Some of the trends we’re seeing are troubling, right? There’s a difference between intention and impact. And I think a lot of these platforms in the age of misinformation have really tried to crack down on the flow of misinformation on their platforms.

But as a result, instituted some really arbitrary rules that I know your team has to navigate all the time for us. Like when the word abortion is in an ad and then it gets shut down because whatever algorithms and policies that these digital platforms have put in place, and it’s really unfortunate.

The other [00:09:00] the other trend we’re seeing is, and this is a trend that’s been happening over many years is crisis pregnancy centers. These are fake clinics run by anti-abortion operatives. And they disguise themselves as reproductive healthcare providers and centers, and they lure patients in and then hold them there.

So they miss their appointments at Planned Parenthood or other abortion providers. And they really shame and stigmatize patients in their spaces. If you live in the St. Louis area, thrives is a really well known one, but there are thousands of them across the country. And they oftentimes get tax dollars to subsidize their digital marketing.

We see this all the time and it takes an enormous amount of money and work on our behalf to be able to knock them down. But this is a problem, right? Because they are [00:10:00] subsidized by many state governments in order to push their misinformation and they’re able to go through the loopholes and spend millions of dollars to be the top search result. 

JENNY: An article just came out today – the day that we’re filming – talking about how additional legislation is now being pushed in a variety of states that actually could hold Meta and or Google culpable for ads served on their platform legally around not only abortion, but certain birth controls or other things that are deemed inappropriate in the legislator’s minds.

So I think we’re facing a pretty rocky road over the next couple of years. 

BONYEN: Yeah, absolutely. And some blurred lines and complicated conversations around freedom of speech.

JENNY: Absolutely. I think one of the things that I love that you’re doing is the Brands Against Bans. Talk a little bit about that.

BONYEN: We’re so proud of this new campaign we’re launching in August called Brands [00:11:00] Against Bans. It is an effort to empower businesses to utilize their brands to support sexual and reproductive healthcare. So we know one of the biggest challenges in what got us here to this moment of Roe being overturned is stigma.

People wanna whisper the word abortion. We know the majority of Americans and voters in this country support keeping Roe and support abortion access. Yet, we don’t hear it enough. We have to remember that the anti-abortion groups are a loud minority of people that has led many to believe that abortion should remain in silence and it shouldn’t.

And so the Brands Against Bans campaign is really our effort to empower businesses, to get loud on their support for sexual reproductive healthcare and rights. [00:12:00] And we are working with businesses to start a list of preferred businesses that we can share out with our supporters. So if you want to know where you can go holiday shopping and support your mission and values – we are working on that list.

So we’re starting that in August and we’re really proud of it. And Jenny, you’re an example of this. So you – being a woman owned business and being really out front on your support for sexual and reproductive healthcare does wonders to shatter stigma.

It’s incredibly important at this time to normalize sexual and reproductive healthcare. One in four women will have an abortion in their lifetime. It is a normal part of reproductive healthcare. We have to stop othering abortion care and we have to start normalizing it.

JENNY: Yeah, I agree. And [00:13:00] I’m so excited to share the link for the campaign in the show notes. 

Last question. I know quite a few people that wanna support Planned Parenthood and the work that you’re doing. If they wanna just give, how can they give and how can they donate in a way that the money will specifically go to helping people that do need access to abortion care?

BONYEN: There’s several ways. So first you can go to and go to the Regional Logistics Center website, where you can give directly to patient navigation work and ensuring that patients have travel, lodging, and other financial aid resources. The other way you can give is to donate to abortion funds.

There are abortion funds in all of these states and abortion funds directly subsidize the abortion care. Because in many places, there are private and public insurance bans. So the vast majority of people who need abortion access have to pay for it out of pocket and abortion funds do an amazing job offsetting those costs for [00:14:00] people. 

JENNY: That’s wonderful. We’ll include some links in the show notes to make it easy for people. So Bonyen, thank you so much for being here and thank you for the important work that you do. 

BONYEN: Thank you for having 

JENNY: Well, thanks for tuning into this episode of We Are, Marketing Happy, we’ll see you on the next one.

Take care. 


Welcome to the first episode of the We Are Marketing Happy – a healthcare marketing podcast, hosted by Jenny Bristow. Jenny is the Founder and CEO of Hedy and Hopp, a healthcare marketing agency based in the Midwest. Today, Jenny welcomes Annie Haarmann, Head of Consumer Experience, North America at Reputation. 

On this episode, Annie breaks down how different health systems are responding to technology advancements in order to improve patient’s access to care. She outlines technology that is changing patient’s journey such as Google’s knowledge panel and local three-pack to natural language processing and artificial intelligence to determine emotions such as fear, optimism and anger. 

We also talk about how health systems have been regrouping after many marketing budgets were slashed during Covid and the long-term impact to the growth of virtual care. 

Annie discusses the importance of real relationship building with vendors, being brutally honest about your own weaknesses, talking about things that are broken, and using metrics that matter.

Watch their discussion below or listen to the podcast, We Are Marketing Happy – a healthcare marketing podcast.

Connect with Annie:

Connect with Jenny:


Full Transcript:

Hi friends. Welcome to We Are Marketing Happy – a healthcare marketing podcast, where we talk about the technology and innovation that are improving patient’s access to care. I am super excited to have with us today, one of my long time friends, Annie Haarmann, Annie is the head of Consumer Experience North America at Reputation.

Welcome Annie. Thanks Jenny. I’m so glad to be here and glad to be one of your long time friends. [00:01:00] Same. So we have so many different directions and things that we can talk about. You have been such an innovator in healthcare the entire time that I’ve known you. I’d love to start off talking a little bit about technology.

So, I know that in the past you were actually working at a healthcare system, and now you are at a technology vendor. So you’ve seen a lot from both sides of the spectrum. What technology have you seen that you think has most improved patients access to care?

Yeah, I think that there’s no way to have a conversation about care access without talking about the big elephant in the room, Google. As you know, it’s the single biggest technology that has impacted the customer journey, What we now call doctor Google or the idea that, you know, we’re all as consumers seeking answers to questions about our medical conditions.

And, uh, I remember hearing from, from [00:02:00] Google recently that the percentage of healthcare related search related to symptoms is 81%. So, 81% of healthcare searches is just a consumer, trying to figure out their symptoms, whether it’s, you know, what is a wrist sprain versus a broken bone or COVID symptoms, are taking them through what we used to call a marketing funnel.

And now we just kind of call that a consumer journey. And I can search my symptoms. I can understand my treatment options. I could even look at reviews from other people who have my same symptoms or conditions and have seen that provider. I can select a provider based on their feedback and it’s all right there within the Google ecosystem right there in the knowledge panel or that local three pack.

And, you know, we used to have these debates. I’m sure you [00:03:00] remember was what are we gonna put on our homepage? What’s the right thing to feature on that homepage of the website. and that page doesn’t ever matter if you can’t get the consumer to come to it. And increasingly Google is going to intercept those patients.

They want them scheduling right there within the Google results. And why would a consumer ever go to your website if they can get everything for right there? And this idea of zero click conversion is not just a nice to have anymore. It’s the standard. And if you are not optimizing for that, then you’re missing out on the single best access point for your patients.

I remember it was in 2019. You were speaking at HCIC and I remember sitting in the audience and you actually walked through a patient experience. The experience was your own cause you weren’t feeling well, you had to go urgent care or something. And so I remember you actually screenshotted and documented how, what the query you [00:04:00] did, the search results that you received, the way that you were able to book an appointment.

And it was such a great, true representation. How easy it is to find care whenever providers and systems do it correctly. Yeah. I vaguely recall that. I think that was my data science experiment with an N of one but it’s, it’s true that as consumers of healthcare, we care what that experience is going to be like for other consumers of healthcare.

It’s the only product or service that. Truly, every person is going to have some kind of experience with it. And if we don’t make that better, then we’re not doing a service to society as a whole. Something that makes me really excited about – the idea of making access easier is that it’s not just a marketing thing.

It’s really about treating humans the way that they wanna be treated and make it [00:05:00] easy for them to get the care that they need in the time that they need it. 

I totally share that same passion, as you know. So what do you think is next? What next technology innovation or platform or tool is going to be next?

Yeah. You know, it’s, it’s funny, there’s a lot of advancement that has happened in the last couple of years in digital. And we’ve seen certain platforms like virtual care that used to be this loss leader that healthcare systems didn’t really know what to do with, or put it over in the innovation corner.

And all of a sudden we had a need to scale all of that and make it actionable immediately. People who couldn’t leave the house. And so I do think that it’s a really exciting time to see the shift from this idea of healthcare access as a marketing thing, to healthcare access as a consumer experience [00:06:00] thing and, and driving those access points.

You know the best thing that I have seen come out of healthcare innovation is really what we’re bringing in from other industries. So if you take a concept like healthcare consumerism, other industries have already nailed consumerism, they didn’t have the same kind of challenges that we did in healthcare.

And they were able to really hone in on some of those things that we’re now just catching up to. The thing that comes to mind for me as the future is natural language processing or NLP. When we talk about AI and healthcare, we’re always focused on clinical uses. But there are also a lot of non-clinical uses for AI in marketing and you know, years ago, you probably remember it was so exciting just to see on our social media reports, that we could get a percentage of how many positive [00:07:00] comments, how many negative comments.

And then there was the neutral comments, which was, you know, sort of silly because it was the biggest of, of all the groupings. But now, NLP has gotten so advanced. It learns over time that we can start to pull out emotional components, like fear and anger and trust or optimism.

And those are really important emotions to understand when you are trying to change behavior. How are you going to motivate someone to take action, to schedule that mammogram when, most of the conversation around that topic is fearful? How can you allay those fears with the marketing that you’re doing?

How can you eliminate some of the barriers that cause anger and and make it easier for them to access the care and to do the follow up care that they need. So it’s not just about what is [00:08:00] the story we tell it’s what is the story we tell that will drive someone to action and we can do that by paying more attention to the natural language processing technology that is available to us.

How far out do you think we are from mass adoption? 

Ooh, that’s hard to say. I see that a lot of my clients are very excited about it and they say, oh, that’s so great. I want that. I wanna see it, but we haven’t reached the point of fully actioning that information. So a lot of them are just starting to wake up to the fact that we can even provide this kind of information and you know, realizing they can drill down to that level and see, even based on a service line or an individual provider or a region of our service area. And so I think right now we’re at the awareness stage [00:09:00] of things. 

It’s funny you bring this up because this is something we talk to a lot of our clients about. There are laggards who are sort of just coming onto some of the digital marketing things that we would probably consider standard in other industries. There’s the middle of the pack, which is the ones who are understanding the information, but maybe actioning on part of it. And the leaders, which I would say is a smaller elite group of health systems have really figured out how to action this information.

They are drilling into the data, not just a, oh, it’s nice to know this thing. It’s oh, here’s the action we’re going to take. Because of this thing that we learned, and here’s what we expect the result to be. And they’re testing that and they are building marketing campaigns with that in mind. And it’s really exciting to see some of the, the, [00:10:00] the changes that it is resulting in for my clients. 

So you and I we’ve been in this industry for a long time. Right. Things change every month. How do you stay abreast of new technology? Are there any trainings or any resources that you’ve found or used over the last year that have been really helpful?

Yeah. I read everything. I listen to all of the podcasts. I am a digital hoard. I’ve got probably. 40 episodes of various podcasts that are downloaded into my phone. And when I get on a plane and I won’t have wifi access, I just plug in and just learn as much as I can. And the way that I learn about what’s going on, isn’t so much from a technology stand.

I wanna hear what healthcare system executives are [00:11:00] saying. I wanna hear from that medical group leader, I wanna hear from that chief nursing officer if iit matters not what the latest tech is, or if it doesn’t. Actually get to the heart of what is causing pain for healthcare system leaders. And I tried to always put that at the center of my conversations with them and ultimately the healthcare consumer at the center of what they need from me.

And so what I would recommend is – don’t worry about the latest technology podcast or signing up for a technology, event or subscription. What you should really listen to is what are those executives talking about? And you can find that through, you know, all of the, the trade publications, you can subscribe to the podcast versions of [00:12:00] those and just listen. When you hear the same challenges repeated over and over, because that’s what has to come first.

It’s not the technology. It’s the problem. Absolutely. Oh, I love that answer. I love it. So something that I really wanted to dig in with you is talking about budgeting in marketing. I feel like it has been well, I know it has been a, quite a rocky couple of years for healthcare providers. A lot of their budgets were slashed to nothing during COVID and now everybody’s rebounding.

Some people are doing more than they were before as an attempt to be able to make up some lost ground. How have you, and how have your clients tackled budget planning post pandemic? 

Yeah, I, I work with clients of all sizes. Um, some that have very small budgets and some that have enormous budgets and it doesn’t matter what [00:13:00] the budget is.

You need to focus early on the value. You know, for a lot of health systems, they have finance processes or certain protocols where you go through an approval of whatever investment you wanna make. And you have to show the value of that, and you need to challenge your partners, or your vendors, if they aren’t a true partner, they’ll do this with you.

If they’re a vendor, they might but, challenge them to give you metrics that matter and your vendors don’t tell you what metrics matter. You tell them. I remember years ago when I was a customer, I was a purchaser of lots of technology. I was having a conversation with, with my boss about a [00:14:00] proposal that had just come through.

And our sentiment was they came in and tried to tell us what our problems were, but they didn’t ask us what our problems were. They just told us what they were. We know what our problems are and so we know the priorities. And so when you can tell your outside partners what those things are, and sometimes it can be difficult to do – a lot of marketing leaders don’t wanna share that level of detail with their outside partners, and it can only help you because then they know what matters.

They know what they need to track, and they know whether they are delivering value. And so create those deep relationships early – figure out what your processes are know what you need in order to show value to that budget. And then, challenge your partners, cuz at the end of the day, you know, if your agency isn’t reporting on real metrics, like incremental new [00:15:00] patient revenue on appointments scheduled, if there’s still leaning on views or impressions and, and that’s it, you know, that’s not gonna help you because all the impressions are not going to mean anything.

If you don’t get one appointment out of it and that one appointment means nothing. If you can’t then attribute that appointment to something that your marketing team did.

I love that answer. And I think that is early the foundation for the most successful relationships is candor. That’s candor honesty, some brutal real conversations. And, you know, we had a lot of candor when, when I was your client, I don’t know if you’re revealing that on this podcast, but, but yeah, that’s very, very important. And it is for you, I’m sure that you’ve had clients who didn’t tell you exactly what was going on or tell you all of the details you needed to know in order to add value. 

And it’s almost like, you know, you would come in with [00:16:00] your eyes closed to try to paint the picture for them, but you don’t know what’s important. And when you can be honest about that so you know if you’re off the target or you’re close to the target.

That’s the bullseye. You need that in any kind of relationship. And that’s what I consider to be the difference between a, a vendor, which is just, I pay you money and you give me the thing, versus a partnership, which is, I’m investing in you and we are mutually invested in the success of this outcome.

Completely agree. I think a lot of marketers early in their career feel like keeping some of that information close to the vest is a power play. And I think the opposite is the real power play. The more you can share to allow people to be your true partner and stand up and kind of push the limits of what’s possible because they know they’re actually going in the right direction for you is really when the magic happens.

[00:17:00] Totally agree. Well, Annie, thank you so much. This was such a fun conversation. I always love hearing your insights. Any final words for our listeners today? 

Yeah, I think it gets back to the candor thing. I mean, you know, me I love telling everybody what the problem is because the more people I tell about the challenge that I’m facing, the more likely it is that I’m gonna get a nice set of answers from a variety of people and what I would encourage any healthcare marketers to do is to talk about the things that are broken. Don’t be afraid to talk about those things, because guess what they’re probably broken for some other team too. And maybe it used to be broken and they fixed it, or maybe you have an idea that would help them. The point being, talk about these things, talk to, and talk to people who don’t have the same perspective as you.

I mean, [00:18:00] I learned so much from talking to other departments that were not marketing. And it put things in a better context for me to. To win for the whole organization. 

I love it. Well, Annie, thank you so much for joining. I’ll be linking to your LinkedIn in the show notes, if anybody would like to connect.

And for all of our listeners, thank you so much for tuning in. We’ll see you soon.

Digital Marketing and Analytics Agency Pivots To Serve Healthcare Industry Exclusively; Projecting 50% Growth Over Next 18 Months

Aug. 8, 2022 (St. Louis, MO) – An increasing number of healthcare organizations are recognizing the importance of shifting from a product-oriented focus to customer-centric focus in the face of consumer demand for better healthcare experiences. But to do that effectively, the healthcare industry must harness the power of customer data and insights to build a brand connection before a customer becomes a customer. 

Anticipating this evolving shift in healthcare, St. Louis-based digital marketing and analytics provider, Anvil Analytics + Insights, has renamed itself and pivoted its business to exclusively serve the healthcare industry with a focus on connecting and optimizing the patient experience in finding and receiving care. Anvil Analytics + Insights is now Hedy & Hopp – a healthcare marketing agency that activates effective and emotional connections between brands and customers, using a foundation of data-driven insights.

“The healthcare landscape continues to shift, creating more obstacles patients must navigate in order to find and receive care,” says CEO/Founder Jenny Bristow. “It is critical for healthcare organizations to make it easier for patients to find information, schedule appointments and feel an emotional connection to their brand. This requires healthcare organizations to break apart siloed marketing efforts and integrate marketing experiences and brand connections into the patient’s life.”

Hedy & Hopp draws on an integrated mix of expertise across healthcare brand strategy, consumer engagement, marketing technology and analytics to integrate the healthcare brand into the customer’s life – a process we call Hedyology®.

“This shift requires healthcare organizations to think differently and find a way to connect disparate data sources to streamline patient experiences in order to apply effective marketing in the digital space,” Bristow says. “Hedy & Hopp is built on a foundation of helping healthcare clients navigate this change and find innovation in their marketing approaches.”

The company has been positioning itself for growth, making many notable hires in the last year. These include: 

The firm employs 20 associates. Bristow expects to hire five additional associates in the next year. Anticipating the needs of the market, Bristow is projecting 50% growth over the next 18 months. While based in St. Louis, Hedy & Hopp hires experts globally and works remotely, as clients are located throughout the U.S.

“Hedy & Hopp has given our team the expertise to make efficient, informed, and patient-centered decisions in one of the most challenging landscapes when it comes to sexual and reproductive healthcare. Their careful guidance and thoughtful partnership is a critical capacity builder for the Planned Parenthood marketing team. We are grateful for their collaboration and highly recommend them to any affiliate that needs an extra hand in digital analytics and advertising work.”

Bonyen Lee-Gilmore | Vice President of Strategy and Communications, Planned Parenthood of the St. Louis Region and Southwest Missouri

Anvil Analytics & Insights was founded in 2015. Bristow, who previously built and sold an agency in Seattle, as well as worked at Amazon, took sole ownership in 2021. Bristow and the company have enjoyed many honors including being named by the St. Louis Business Journal as the #1 fastest growing company in 2019. Bristow was also named to the 2022 Titan 100 list of top C-level executives, and was a 2018 winner of the Stevie® Awards for Women in Business in the Female Entrepreneur of the Year category.

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Isn’t it beautiful when life comes full circle?

About 20 years ago (eek 😖), I hired my first ever direct report – Maggie Piasecki.

We worked together for about four years and had a blast. The photo below is from a conference we attended in San Jose for digital marketing, back in 2004, when we visited the Google campus!

When our careers took us in different directions, we stayed in touch with lunches and happy hours, always trying to find a way for our paths to cross again.

Last year, when I bought out my business partner and had an opportunity to rebuild my leadership team – I called Maggie.

A few months later, she joined as the company’s second in command (though let’s be real, she is usually first in command 🤣).

As we approach our one-year anniversary working together (8/8), I wanted to take a moment to pause and appreciate my dear friend.

Maggie makes every day a joy and is a true testament to our company’s core values.

She is the reason why recruiting hasn’t been an issue over the last year – everyone wants to work with Maggie! Once you work with her – you respect and love her. She is a true gem.

Maggie – thank you for being you! I’m so appreciative to have you back in my life again and can’t wait to see where we go together!


[Last updated: April 22, 2020]

Like many of you, we’ve been getting used to the new (temporary) normal of working as a distributed team — using Zoom and Slack even more than we used to, and social distancing to help stop the spread of COVID-19. Like all of you, the health and safety of our community is our top priority during this time.

As an agency that does a lot of work in healthcare, we have seen a variety of requests come through to help prepare and send communication out to patients related to COVID-19. As a way to give back, we’ve created some “starter pack” resources related to COVID-19 and collected them on this page, which we’ll update periodically. Hopefully, these resources will be helpful as you navigate this situation. Please reach out to us if we can help your organization in any way.

New Google Optimize feature to update your website throughout COVID-19

If you have a Google Optimize account, there are new features to quickly add temporary messages that will keep your users updated on any recent changes. Learn more on Google’s Marketing Platform blog.

COVID-19 response email template

If your organization is looking to send out a COVID-19 response email, you can use this template to get started. We created the template with healthcare providers in mind, specifically those who might not have an internal marketing team or an agency partner. It’s got some ready-to-go content from the CDC and other trusted sources, and you can customize it with your organization’s branding and content. Download the HTML to use with your preferred email platform. (Also, if you’re interested in having us build out an email for you in a custom system, contact us.)

HIPAA Compliant Marketing and Analytics Tools

With digital communication and telehealth being more necessary than ever, now might be the time to consider how your marketing and analytics tools stack up when it comes to HIPAA compliance. We’ve compiled this useful list of tools and platforms that are either HIPAA compliant out of the box or can be customized for HIPAA compliance. If your organization deals with PHI and is doing any kind of website analytics, business intelligence, or data management, this blog post will be helpful.

HIPAA Quiz: Are your marketing tools compliant?

Healthcare companies are dealing with a lot right now, including the need for new COVID-19 communications. You’ve most likely seen that OCR announced HIPAA flexibilities during the COVID-19 emergency.

Helpful Data Visualizations to understand COVID-19

We put together this list of some noteworthy data visualizations related to COVID-19, with links and commentary from our data experts. As we navigate these “uncharted waters,” we think it’s inspiring to see all the different ways people are using data to create real-time maps, dashboards, and other visualizations to help communicate crucial information.

Training Opportunities

If you’re working from home like we are, you might be interested in these free virtual training and professional development opportunities:

Video Tutorials

Want to improve your data analytics chops? You’re in luck! Every weekday in April, the Decision Science team at Hedy & Hopp

will be releasing a short, practical tutorial to help you strengthen your tracking, data analysis, and dashboards. Check out the tutorials on YouTube and be sure to subscribe to our channel to see new videos as they are launched:

A huge announcement was made last week by Google, letting the world know that Universal Analytics (the version the vast majority of folks still use) will be shut down next year. Unlike prior analytics version changes, they will NOT be migrating the code over if you do nothing. If you do nothing, your website data will no longer be tracked. It’s a huge deal for marketers!

Our resident analytics guru, Sam Cox, wrote a summary that outlines the must-know information about the update. Again, we have been warning about this change for a while (you can see an old blog post from December 1, 2020!) and if you still haven’t acted, now is the time.

Google Analytics 4: What You Need to Know
by Sam Cox, Marketing Analytics Specialist


Next July, Google Analytics 4 (GA4) will replace Universal Analytics as the default tracking platform for Google Analytics. GA4 represents a fundamental change in the way data is tracked within Google Analytics and offers many benefits over traditional Universal Analytics (UA).

This change means that all current UA properties will need to be switched to GA4 before July 1, 2023.

What’s the difference? The biggest difference between GA4 and UA is in how data is tracked. Whereas Universal Analytics relied on sessions and pageviews to track data, in GA4 data is tracked in events and parameters. In simpler terms this means that you can more flexibly track what’s important across any devices and platforms a user might interact with, allowing for a fuller picture of how users interact with your web properties.

For example, with UA if a user visited your app on their mobile device and then completed a purchase on your website on their laptop, that would previously be tracked as 2 unique sessions. With GA4, it’s possible to track that same user’s interaction with both your app and mobile device as several different events with the same user.

GA4 allows for full cross-device and cross-platform reporting within a flexible event-based data model, giving Analytics users greater insight than ever before as to how users interact with your web properties.

At Hedy & Hopp, we are excited by the new tracking opportunities GA4 presents, and we’re committed to making sure the transition away from Universal Analytics doesn’t impact the access you have to the insights that matter most.

Q and A

Will I be able to access my old analytics data after moving to GA4?
No. As of July 1, 2023, UA properties will stop recording new data. You will be able to access that data for at least 6 months after that, but it will eventually become inaccessible.

Can I access historical data through the new GA4 platform?
No. Since the foundations of UA and GA4 track data in fundamentally different ways, you can only access GA4 data once the tracking code is installed on your website. It is important to set up a GA4 property as soon as possible in order to have access to the largest range of data possible.

Will I be able to set up a new dashboard that looks the same as my old dashboard?
Yes, pretty much. However, we would recommend using this opportunity to evaluate your current dashboard and weigh whether any new GA4 capabilities might change the way you view and interpret your data. Also, some metrics you may use to evaluate the performance of your website, like bounce rate, have changed in GA4. We are committed to ensuring you have access to the same insights as before, even if a few of the metrics we track may look a little different.

Next Steps:

Install the GA4 tracking code on your website as soon as possible if you have not already.
Since the switch to GA4 will mean that Universal Analytics will stop collecting data July 1, 2023, you’ll want to build up as much data in GA4 as possible before then, especially if you look at YoY data. The good news is that you can install GA4 on your website in tandem with Universal Analytics to maximize the benefits of both analytics platforms.

Evaluate all current Google Analytics integrations and update them to GA4.
Everything from your website to paid advertising platforms, CallRail tracking, CRM to data studio dashboards may be utilizing old UA data that will need to be updated to GA4.

Update Data Studio Dashboards.
Switching to GA4 will cause any current Universal Analytics data in dashboards to break, so all dashboard pages that incorporate UA metrics will need to be updated. Take the time to consider some of the new capabilities of GA4 and if that changes anything when it comes to KPIs and how you’d like to visualize your data.


If you’re a client, don’t worry. The team will be reaching our shortly with our plan of attack for your setup and dashboards. If you’re not a client and need help, give us call and we can create a plan of attack to make sure you don’t lose any data.

Photo Credit: Kristin Wilson on Unsplash