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What do you do when your internal surveys show your patients are thrilled with their care….but your external online reputation is terrible?

No one knows this better than today’s guest, Cindy Graham, Director of Digital Strategy at St. Luke’s Health System in Boise, Idaho. Cindy has worked in healthcare for almost 25 years and has been in her current role for almost a decade, which gives her a unique position to be able to share the changes that have happened during that time and the areas that she and her team are focusing on now, going into the new year.

The discussion begins with one of those areas – reviews and online reputation management. Cindy gives insights on how she turned an overall poor rating into an overwhelmingly positive one over the last year while boosting the number of reviews by nearly 20 times!

They also discuss the delicate balance of budgeting with the need for additional healthcare space and constructing the hospital system’s image and reputation in the community both in need of important funding. Jenny and Cindy end by talking about continuing education, mentorship, and other ways that you can help your organization now as you continue along your career path.

Connect with Cindy online: https://www.linkedin.com/in/cindygraham5/

Connect with Jenny online: https://www.linkedin.com/in/jennybristow/

Read the show’s 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!

Hey friends! Welcome to today’s episode of We Are, Marketing Happy, a healthcare marketing podcast. I am so excited to have Cindy Graham with us today. She is the director of Digital Strategy at St. Luke’s Health System in Boise, Idaho. 

Cindy, you have been at St. Luke’s for 12 years, but you’ve been in this particular role for seven to eight years.So I think it’s a really cool opportunity when somebody’s been in a role for so long to kind of step back and kind of take the view of what you tell your younger self, or what would you [00:01:00] tell somebody who’s entering healthcare marketing for the first time. So I’m really excited to dig into a couple of different topics with you today.

Cindy: Welcome. Thanks for having me. I’m happy to be here. 

Jenny: So one of the things that, I really wanna talk about is, I know that less than a decade ago, you had mentioned in a prior conversation that your organization had only one brave soul managing the entire website, and you had really no digital to speak of.

And I will say through our experience and all the systems we work with, that was such a common place for organizations to be. But you have stepped in and now you manage the digital team and there are other groups within the organization you collaborate with to make sure that you’re really providing the best and easiest access to patient care.

But let’s talk about some of your group’s key wins in particular – Reviews. So reviews are an area that [00:02:00] providers can be really afraid of. Honestly, providers in general are always worried that all of the reviews will be negative, and there can be a lot of fear around purposely trying to get more reviews.

But you had mentioned that 18 months ago your organization received about 250 Google reviews a quarter. Now you’re receiving 5,000. So talk to me about this initiative. Why did you take this on?

Cindy: Yeah, it was really good timing actually, because everything we had been working on with respect to our website and patient access had redirected towards covid response support.

So our regular old digital roadmap for all the things that we had planned to do for the organization was kind of put on pause. And we were very dedicated to the covid response but then also it kind of slowed the rest of that stuff down to give us an opportunity to look at what other things we had we just hadn’t been able to get to.

And one [00:03:00] of those things was proactive management of our online reputation. And when we really looked into what our current online reputation was, we were stunned with how bad it was because we know that we provide excellent patient care and we receive great feedbacks through our cap surveys and all of that kind of feedback that we collect but we don’t share publicly. 

So we started with a bit of discovery, not only with kind of what our reputation was out there in the online wilderness, but also kind of what our internal leaders and physicians thought about us pursuing proactive online reputation management. And we found two things. The first was that our online reputation was pretty poor.

We know that when people are motivated to post on their own right, when we’re not asking them to do so, they just are motivated to post on their own. They’re typically motivated by an extreme experience. It’s awesome when that extreme experience is really [00:04:00] good and they’re posting something glowing about your clinics, your providers, or you.

But sometimes they’re motivated by something that really disappointed them or frustrated them. We were seeing significant percentage, I think 35 to 40% of the reviews that were being posted about our physicians, our clinics, and our hospitals were, were negative and challenging. And then the other thing that, that we discovered as we were asking questions internally.

Was a lot of hesitation to ask for more reviews because people were like, why do we want people to tell us more things, more bad things about us? Right. Especially some of the providers that, that had been a little pummeled, right? They felt really, really reluctant and really demoralized, I would say, because, you know, they go into work every day with patient’s best interests in mind, doing their best with schedules and during a [00:05:00] really stressful time during a pandemic, we’re trying to certainly care for people with covid, but then there are people with a lot of other things too, who had limited access and stressful situations. And so they really felt like this would be something that would demoralize them further.

And so I knew that we had the opportunity to shine a light on the great work that they were doing, and I felt like this would be a good way to do it, but I had to convince. So what we, ended up recommending was a six week pilot, right? Our health system is the largest in Idaho. I know that there are many larger health systems across the country, but we have eight hospitals, about 250 ambulatory care clinics, and then other lab imaging surgery centers.

So it, it comes out to about 300 plus locations. All of those have their own Google business listings and all kind of stuff. I really wanted to make sure that, that we proved that this could work. So we invited five [00:06:00] ambulatory clinics to participate in a six week pilot, and I included the providers that were the most scared, which I’m pretty excited to report worked out pretty well 

But it was a risk, right? You know, they were nervous. And I said, just take this leap of faith with me and we’ll see what happens. And then we’ll adjust and decide after six weeks. So we started small and we texted patients after every appointment as long as we only sent one text every 90 days.

That was our rule. If they came in next week, we wouldn’t text you again. We don’t wanna pumble anybody. 80% of the time we asked for a comment about the provider. 20% of the time we asked for a comment about the clinic, and we received all of that feedback. Then we’d also ask somebody if they wanted to post to Google.

And sometimes they say yes, and sometimes they say no, and that’s okay. But we would get all of feedback. And what we found in that pilot period was that 98% of what [00:07:00] we received was five star positive, positive, positive. And it was awesome because what it proved to those providers and to the organization was that the excellent patient experience that we strive for every day and that we’re committed to deliver is being seen and recognized by our patients and their families. All we’ve gotta do is ask them to let us know how, how it went. So over the proceeding or the following, six to eight months, we rolled out the program to each of our additional service lines. So we have about 11, you know, everything from primary care and children’s to cardiology, oncology, orthopedics, all the specialties.

And we’ve been fully rolled out now for about a year, and our reputation score has increased dramatically. We went from kind of, I would call it poor and sad, [00:08:00] and we didn’t change anything about our patient care. All we did was ask people to tell us about their experience. And so now it’s a better reflection of our actual patient experience and our reputation.

Scores across the board have gone through the roof. So we were getting about for all of our locations and all of our employed physicians, which totals about 17 to 1800 entities in total, we were getting about 200 Google reviews a quarter that were 35 to 40% negative.

Today we get around 5,000 Google reviews a quarter that are 98% positive. And that being able to share that reporting back with physician leadership groups that they can then share with their own colleagues and sharing it with our executive leaders and our clinic managers. I am so proud [00:09:00] because we didn’t really do anything but reflect back how the patients truly feel about the work that they’re doing, which has been really important after such a tough period.

That’s 

Jenny: so wonderful, and I love your approach about including the people that are most afraid of the initiative in the trial rollout because it really helped make sure that you got organization wide buy-in immediately, but it was a risk, and that’s something that I think people early on in their careers likely would be afraid of.

So that’s definitely a great piece of advice. One thing that struck me during a former conversation that we had is you have a pretty good process for deciding as a system, really for responding to or not responding to reviews. How do you decide when you engage with someone or what resources you provide to them?

Cindy: Yeah, so we set up a foundational rule that, well, and this is how he initially started, let me say, a foundational rule [00:10:00] that we were gonna respond to every single review. And for the most part, that is what we do. We thank everyone, whether it’s a positive or negative review, we try to do so within 24 hours.

Sometimes it’s, it’s closer to 48, but, but we wanna make sure that we are responsive and anybody who gives us feedback understands and believes that we’re listening and that we care about their feedback because it’s true. And we do. And especially when those comments are negative, or they express some disappointment or frustration.

We want them to know that that matters to us and that we’re going to ensure that there’s visibility to that feedback internally. Sometimes that comes through me and I will share it with clinic managers, but other times when the feedback is tougher, let’s say, we do have a process with our patient relations department where we escalate for [00:11:00] for follow up.

 And I think that that has been extremely successful as well for a couple reasons. First of all, we wanna make sure that those patients and families that have concerns immediately have a pathway for follow up. So, so they can make sure that the organization understands what happened and can learn and be better next time.

Or sometimes there’s just needs to be more communicative or provide an explanation on why certain decisions are made or why things happened in the way that they did, and that gives the organization a chance to connect with that patient and family and have that conversation outside of a public space.

Right? We, we don’t, we don’t want to have lengthy patient care conversations on Google. Not only would that be a HIPAA violation, but that wouldn’t be a great customer service experience either. So we route people into that process. But in terms of responding or when not to respond, I think we’ve learned some pretty good lessons.[00:12:00] 

This country has had a politically charged climate for a while. I don’t know that that will change anytime soon and, and sometimes people will use Google reviews as a place to complain about things that aren’t really that specific to patient care experience. I mean, they might have touched a patient care episode.

I’ll just use a simple, easy example. Someone complaining about having to wear a mask in our facility, you know, for safety reasons. Around during the Covid pandemic, we had a lot of Google reviews posting us about the fact that they disagreed with having to wear a mask. The reality is that it’s a safety issue for our patients, our providers, our staff, and we need to protect our patients in a safe care environment.

But some people would just want to argue with us there. And it was almost posting something to debate us into a debate about philosophy that [00:13:00] we were never going to change their mind and so we look carefully for things that just seem to be trying to pick a fight when they’re more general and they’re not specific to patient patient care episodes and encounters and we don’t respond to those.

One other thing that I think is important to mention though is, is in the same vein, sometimes people will post things that give you an opportunity to reinforce your organizational values. So you’re not talking necessarily about an individual patient encounter, but you are talking about what’s important to you as an organization and, and standing up for what’s right.

I’ll give you another example. So we flew pride flags proudly throughout our health system during Pride Month, and we had a Google Review posted about how upset somebody was that we flew a pride flag, and that just gave us [00:14:00] the opportunity to respond and reinforce our organizational values, which is everybody’s welcome here, and we care for everybody.

We’re a welcoming and safe space for everybody in this community. It gave us the opportunity to reinforce that, not just for the person that commented, but for everyone else that reads that comment. I think it’s important that when you have those opportunities to reinforce your organizational values so the community understands who you are, that that’s a good opportunity to do that.

Jenny: That’s a beautiful way to look at it. Let’s talk a little bit about budgeting, because one of my favorite things about healthcare is the wonderful people that work within healthcare, but one of the most difficult things is that marketing budgets have to be considered alongside clinical and operational and many other very, very important budgets.

So as you are creating your priorities for the year and as you’re thinking about what you want to do to [00:15:00] really improve patient’s access to care, and provide a better digital experience, what do you do to try to ensure the success of your projects actually being approved during the budgeting process, and then making sure that they’re supported really for the long term, and it’s not something that you allocate money to for a year, and then it died on the vine the following year? 

Cindy: You know, wish I knew the, the magical answer that, that anyone in healthcare wouldn’t have to face this issue. I do think I have some perspective and advice, but I will be honest in saying that this is still something that I struggle with in the healthcare industry all the time. And that is exactly what you said, right?

We are an important and critical function of our health systems to connect the community, patients and families with the products and services, really services more than anything that they need to maintain and proactively stay healthy, right? But we have to compete [00:16:00] with the dollars that are necessary for delivery, excellent, exceptional patient care and outcomes, and those are things.

You know, our population is growing like crazy and we have to build additional hospital space and we have to build additional primary care clinics, and those things are very significant capital investments. It’s a little hard to compete with those types of investment because you know that we need the capacity to care for those patients.

But that also the function that we offer is critical, connecting those patients and offering them access and information about those services. So the way that I tackle it here, and what I’m still working towards at St. Luke’s is ensuring that our leadership has an understanding of the impact of each of those connection points and kind of the extent in the volume of them, [00:17:00] right?

So, you know, when you have 10 million visits to your website in a year, for example. They need to understand the impact and the value of those connection points so they understand the importance of continuing to invest in them and that our world changes so quickly and evolves so quickly as well, that we need to be able to be nimble, right?

So whatever you guys can do out there to educate your leadership. Every time somebody invites you to present anywhere, say yes and like it doesn’t matter if you don’t think you have anything new to say, go there and remind them about the importance of all these things. Talk to them about what you’re doing.

Talk about what you’re seeing in the community and what patients are asking for. Talk about what trends are happening out in other industries that that could influence healthcare, the evolution of your digital experience, but it has to be top [00:18:00] of mind for them always as a critical piece of your patient engagement and community engagement infrastructure, I would say.

But what that really boils down to from a budget perspective is that it has to be kind of an ongoing budget that’s dedicated to helping you evolve over time. You will always struggle if it’s project-based, right? You don’t wanna have to go ask, and now I wanna do this, and now I wanna do that, and now I wanna do this.

Like, it has to be something that the entire organization understands, needs constant feeding and investment. And it’s critical as the front door to your organization. So whatever you can do to. For that, for that ongoing committed and dedicated budget. And then also whatever you can do to continue to get in front of as many leaders as you can, whether they’re your executive leaders, whether they’re patient care leaders, even [00:19:00] nursing leaders.

I really think that as much as they understand about the work that you do, the more you’ll be considered as a critical part of that infrastructure and the easier it will be for you to get that funding, not as a competitor to the things. The organization needs to build buildings and to expand access, but as a critical piece of being able to do that successfully.

Jenny: That’s a great perspective and one that we hear often is that relationship building within your organization is so important. 

Final question is, let’s talk about resources. So if you were to give advice to someone just entering the healthcare marketing space, what resources would you point them to for continuing education and to kind of understand the trends and what is happening?

If they are in a situation, say that they can give a presentation to their organization’s leadership team, or really just even a stay up to date themselves, where should they be looking? 

Cindy: Well, you know, I will tell you that this may be not the answer that you were expecting, but I’ll tell you it is what came to.

So [00:20:00] my career is about 25 years old and I have been at St. Luke’s for 12 years, but I’ve been working for a bit longer than that. And earlier on, especially in my healthcare role, I was really looking outward for inspiration on what to do next. I have to tell you that these days I am looking inward within our organization more for that inspiration.

I’ll tell you why. I think that’s really important for younger people who are earlier in their careers. What I have found is that I would go out and I would get these really amazing ideas about trends and opportunities, and then they would be incredibly difficult to advance or implement just for practical reasons.

Everybody else would think that they were awesome and exciting and definitely something we’d be interested. But, but getting them prioritized and getting them executed practically [00:21:00] sometimes was challenging. Like the fact that, you know, we had the opportunity during Covid to launch that online reputation management work.

It wasn’t a new idea right The timing was right. I don’t know if we would’ve gotten to it yet if Covid hadn’t happened. But I would say that what I have found to be most valuable in my career in learning and helping me support St.Luke’s in achieving its objectives is putting myself out there within the organization and helping connect the dots where they might not, you would think they’re connected, but maybe they’re not. I’ll give you an example. One of the things that I feel has been most helpful is building relationships.

You said a lot of people mention this, but with senior nursing leaders, usually in a healthcare marketing role, I feel like you hear more from executive leaders or [00:22:00] physician leaders or physicians or clinic managers that want something. I didn’t have any earlier on in my healthcare career any natural connections with senior nursing.

But I will tell you that I think that say they’re the best people to know within an organization to really understand what is working well in our patient care engagements. What is not working well? What are some of our opportunities and how someone in a marketing or digital role can help support patient experience.

So one of my closest colleagues here at St. Luke’s has become our director of patient care experience. And we talk all the time about the types of things that they’re seeing, the content that we can deliver, the things that we can say, the way that we, ways that we can help educate the patients and the community to help ease their experience and improve their experience.

And what I found is that we don’t always have to look outside for ways to really dramatically change our organizations and help [00:23:00] our organizations, the opportunities are there, and they’re glaring often right in your face. And sometimes they just need someone with a marketing mindset or an experienced mindset to help activate those things.

So if you’re in healthcare and you don’t know any nursing leaders find a way to meet some. And I also think, I’ve always struggled with the sort of quote unquote mentorship relationship. If you just ask someone for a mentor and then you sit down for coffee every once in a while and that can be great and it’s awesome.

And I have some people that I do that with, but I have learned the most when I dive into a project with someone that scares me a little bit. Right? I’ve done that a couple of times with some nursing leaders in a healthcare organization. There are lots of things that need to get done that are not really anyone’s job to do.

And I volunteered sometimes, sometimes with a little [00:24:00] bit of hesitation, but I volunteered sometimes to take on things that would certainly impact my work and impact patient care. But if I hadn’t taken them up, nobody else really would’ve done them because they’re nobody’s job. And so I kind of decided to bring together some people that I thought could help get it done.

And in one, in one particular instance, those leaders were senior nursing and we worked together for 18 months on a way to improve our information governance on patient care materials, right? Like how we’re organizing them, how we’re delivering them, how we’re templatizing them, all those sorts of things.

It was nobody’s exact job, but it was something that we knew would help improve our patient care experience, and I learned so much from them during that period, even though I had already worked at St. Luke’s for eight or nine years.And then of course you have these relationships throughout the organization that you can tap into as you go on for more of that mentorship, more of those ideas and more of a finger on the pulse of where you can help and [00:25:00] where you can improve.

So I don’t have any great outside resources to share. I mean, not that they aren’t there. I still go to conferences. I still read marketing articles and all of those things, but where I find the inspiration that is most practical and easy to implement at St. Luke’s is from within. 

Jenny: Cindy, it has been an absolute joy having you on today’s episode. I will link to your LinkedIn bio in the show note. So if anybody’s interested in reaching out directly, they can connect and chat more in depth about these topics. But thank you so much for being on. It’s been a joy. 

Cindy: Thank you for having me.

We are so excited to be back to weekly episodes for our We Are, Marketing Happy podcast!

Today, we introduce you to Hedy and Hopp’s 2023 Artist In Residence, Lauren Younge. As AIR, Lauren’s art will be featured on our website, podcast, social media, and more! 

Jenny and Lauren discuss her beginnings as a young artist, what inspires her work, how Covid changed her approach to creating, and steps that she took to take her art from a hobby to the professional level. Lauren also talks about creating an effective social media presence, including her fantastic IG content, and details on her next solo show coming up just days from now!

Come see Lauren’s work in person, January 20th – March 20th 2023 at Center of Creative Arts (COCA)

Follow Lauren Younge on Instagram

Connect with Jenny on LinkedIn https://www.linkedin.com/in/jennybristow/

Not in a place to watch a video or listen to audio? Read the interview below:

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!

Hey friends. Welcome to today’s episode of We Are, Marketing Happy, a Healthcare Marketing Podcast. I am super excited. Today we have Lauren Younge. Lauren is Hedy & Hopp’s 2023 Artist in Residence. So welcome Lauren. 

LaurenYounge: Thank you, Jenny. Hi everyone. I’m glad to be here today. 

Jenny: Well, I am just so in love with your art and your personality that shines through your work. So I was thrilled when you agreed to be our artist of the year. 

I’d love to start off a little bit, just talking about your background. Just tell folks who you are. 

LaurenYounge: Sure. Well, I’m Lauren Younge. I am a St. Louis born and raised artist. I still reside in the St. Louis area. So, whoop, whoop to 314!

Just a little bit of my creative background. I have always been a creative person. I think I really owe it to my mom who was always putting me in camps and classes when I was not school. Even if it wasn’t art related, I’ve just always been busy if I was not in school. So, thanks mom. 

I guess elementary school is where I would say I really learned that art was my favorite class and I couldn’t wait to be in an art room.

And that love for art just kind of grew, grew, and grew. I’ve attended school in the Ladue school district, so if you all are familiar with the area, I think it’s a still a very great school district to be a part of in the arts. We’re definitely always supported. So I am grateful that that is kind of the experience I was able to have while [00:02:00] growing up because I do believe that’s why I can still consider myself an artist today.

But yeah, I keep, you want me to keep going? 

Jenny: Yeah. Tell me more about how you got back into art professionally. I think it’s so interesting. It’s a story that I’ve heard quite a bit actually talking to artists all over the country. So tell us about your trajectory there.

LaurenYounge: Sure. My background is art education, taught for a few years here in the St. Louis area right after undergrad. And while I was teaching, I did continue to create, but I kind of paused and my art kind of started to feel like it was an in a hobby phase and I wasn’t actually, it sounds silly to say as an artist, I wasn’t making time to create, but that is the actual truth. It was hard to create at that point in life.

So I paused and then I took, I would say about a two year hiatus of painting. Still had all of my supplies, but I just was not creating. I wasn’t really motivated in that moment, but then covid. I guess I kind of have [00:03:00] a, positive, I can see a positive from all of the not so great things that Covid brought society.

But I, like many others, was not working as much. We weren’t leaving the house. I was stuck in the house and I had all my art supplies and I was like, it’s time. Let’s kind of turn this negative that we are all facing into a positive. And so I pulled back out all my supplies. I started creating and posting more on Instagram.

I even took a few classes that were all virtual, of course, but as ways to just kind of build on my craft, I learned things like varnishing a canvas. I had no idea even what that was and how you do it. But now I do. And now if you purchase a painting for me or see my work, it’s sealed forever and it will always be shining and gorgeous.

So that’s a cool thing I learned during Covid. But yeah, through Covid or during Covid, I started essentially creating again. I got an LLC. I’m officially Lauren Younge [00:04:00] Fine Art, and so since then I have just been doing everything I can to better my craft and get my name out there, if you will.

Jenny: Talk a little bit about what drives your creative style, because I know every time I see a piece of your art, I feel happiness. And that’s the reason the team at Hedy & Hopp selected you as our Artist in Residence for this year because that is part of who we are as an organization. So what leads you to create art that makes people feel that way, or what’s the force behind that?

LaurenYounge: So when I am creating, I would say I am inspired by my life. Like when, after a painting session, I can honestly say I feel better. And so with my art, like you said, I am hoping that you’re, my color choices is, or maybe you’re moved by my brushstroke. But definitely my color choice is I’m hoping that I am brightening the viewer’s day or maybe having them have happy thoughts or maybe the piece that they’re looking at makes them think of a memory from their past [00:05:00] that can make their heart warm.

That is always my hope with my work. I’m never planning much of anything in my creative process. I always say that I kind of vibe out and cool things happen, and I mean, that is the literal depiction of all of my work. But yes, I’m inspired by life. I’m an emotional person. So that, I guess that makes sense that I’m an emotional artist, so when you’re looking at my work, like all of my thoughts and feelings on a canvas.

Jenny: Well, it’s a beautiful view into the joy of how you are as a human being. So thank you for that. 

LaurenYounge: Thank you. 

Jenny: Talk to me about your social media. I love your Instagram, the way that you record sessions as you’re creating. What inspires you or what’s the inspiration behind the content you post? 

LaurenYounge: So yes. It’s 2022, almost 2023. You have to have a social media presence. So I will admit, I have a hate/love relationship with Instagram, but [00:06:00] you gotta post and so I’m posting so people are one inspired, maybe they need a little dose of art in their life for fellow creative who maybe are looking for ideas or they need advice.

That might be a strong word, but just like creative. I’m posting to give little bits and pieces on that as well. Cause I know during the early phase, I guess we’ll say of me starting to post as much and create as much, I was kind of finding people on Instagram that had a similar style. And not to copy, but just to figure out, hmm, like how are you, how are you making your colors pop?

How do you work so big? You know what paint, that was a huge thing. Also, what’s supplies you use to make your work look like it does? So I do try to share that as I can. I have a fake social media staff. They’re just friends. But I call them my social media team. I have been told I need to do more, so I will try, but I’m doing the best I can because now reels are what you have to post.

And so when you look at [00:07:00] my content, hopefully you’re loving the color I’m posting. And then maybe you also like the song that goes with the little time lapse video too. 

Jenny: It keeps getting more and more complex with social, don’t they? They 

It’s a moving target. Big news for you as far as maybe not having as much time to post is you have a solo art show in January.

I’m so excited for you tell all of our listeners all about it.

LaurenYounge: Yes. So in January, January 20th, to be specific, I will have a solo show at, um, the Center of Creative Arts, COCA for short. It’s not my first solo show. This is I think my fourth, but it’s the first one in such a traditional like gallery space, like where I’m working with our curator, that’s new for me.

So more wall space that I think I’ve had before to cover. So just a little snippet of what that is about. Show [00:08:00] is called Breathe. And so the tagline for it is a moment of gratitude and rest. And so of course I’m still giving you lots of color. I have larger scale pieces than I usually work with, which is always exciting.

But the point of this is, I’ve just become very aware of the fact that I have to actively make myself take a moment to pause, to find things, focus on things that I’m grateful for, and just kind of focus on the, the positives that are going on in life so that, so that I have a good day. So it kind of changes my mindset.

And so if you come, you’ll get to see the work, but then there are also is an interactive piece to the show as well. So I am looking forward to that. So that is January 20th. That, that’s the opening reception from like seven to nine, I think.

Jenny: And then how long will your show be available for people to go see?

LaurenYounge: Yes. January 20th to March 12th, I believe. Okay. 

Jenny: Perfect. Well, Lauren, it [00:09:00] is such a joy to have you as our artist of the year. Tthank you for all of the listeners. I’m gonna put links to not only Lauren’s website, but also all of her social media channels, so you can see the really great reels on Insta.

And then I’ll also include a link to her art show and hopefully we’ll see you there in person, but do go and check out all of Hedy & Hopp’s updated social media and website assets because they all will feature Lauren’s art through 2023. 

So thank you again, Lauren, and look forward to a fun year with you.

LaurenYounge: Thank you so much, Jenny.

EPISODE 11

You’ve seen the beautiful artwork on Hedy and Hopp’s website, social media and podcast, but did you know who created it? Today you get to meet her. Jessica Hitchcock is the company’s Artist In Residence for 2022 and has graciously joined the show to talk with Jenny.

Jessica didn’t travel down the most traditional path in becoming an artist. She started out going to business school and had a strong interest in accounting, but her love for art was still calling. She started doing bookkeeping for an arts organization, while still creating her own pieces. The art side-hustle grew over the years, and she was able to quit the 9 to 5 and become a full time artist.

Jenny talks about the Artist in Residency program they have at Hedy and Hopp, and why it is an important part of their values as a company. Jessica discusses why it is so refreshing to collaborate with a company that places such importance on the arts and local community. She also gives advice to other artists who haven’t yet taken the step to put their work out into the world. Jessica even has coaching classes for artists looking to take that leap! Listen to end when Jenny gives information about how you can help Hedy and Hopp choose the Artist In Residence for 2023. See the link below the video.

Watch their discussion below or listen to the podcast, We Are Marketing Happy – A Healthcare Marketing Podcast.

Other Links and Resources

Connect with Jessica on Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/jessica_hitchcock/

Connect with Jenny on LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/jennybristow/

Submit an Artist for consideration for 2023: https://forms.gle/yxdcUBYAcRzvWkJZ6

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Full Transcript:

Jenny: [00:00:00] Hi friends. Welcome to today’s episode of We Are Marketing Happy, a Healthcare Marketing podcast. I’m Jenny Bristow. I’m the CEO and owner of Heddy & Hop, and I am so excited for today’s guest. We have Hedy & Hopp’s Artist in Residence, Jessica Hitchcock. Our Artist in Residence program is something that we started this year along with our rebrand.

And it’s something that’s really near and dear to the hearts of all of the Hedy & Hop team members. And I’m just so excited to have you on today, Jessica, to talk a little bit about your background. 

JESSICA: Well, thanks so much for having me. I’m excited. 

Jenny: So I’d love to get started to have you just tell our listeners a little bit about your career in art.

How did you get started? How did you find that courage to really prioritize your passion and talk about the art show that you just had that [00:01:00] was so amazing.

JESSICA: Yes. So when it comes to like my background and history, really, I mean, I started painting back in high school and I really enjoyed it and really took to it, but I ended up going to college and got a business degree, so Bachelor’s of Business Administration. 

So I really enjoyed business and accounting and bookkeeping, which I know is completely polar opposites. But I went into that field and I loved the arts. So I thought that I could marry my two passions of doing bookkeeping and financials for an arts organization, which was perfect.

So here in St. Louis, I became the Director of Finance and Human Resources for and our organization here. Very wonderful and fulfilling. And I don’t know if it was just the buzz of being around a lot of local artists and all of their creativity, but it got me back into painting. So then just for fun on the side, I started painting again and enjoying it.

And it’s just funny how it naturally involved into a side hustle. So, I had my nine [00:02:00] to five and eventually, in the mornings before work, I would wake up at four and paint. I would do commissions and different collections. And then after work I would be painting as well and fulfilling all of that.

So it just naturally grew. And that was in 2015 when I really started painting again. And it just kind of grew eventually into a second full-time job, which was wonderful. And I mean, I think that also that the side hustle, that grit, there’s a lot of people out there that have those side hustles.

It’s a lot of work and and to have that support from people is really amazing. So it was around 2017, I thought, well maybe, this would be a great fulltime career, but I’m a financial person, so I’m crunching the numbers and I’m thinking to myself it’ll be sustainable. Maybe in about two years we’ll take a look. 

So in February, 2019, I left my full-time nine to five, and I transitioned to a full-time artist. So that’s where I’m at with when it comes to the painting. 

And then over the next year after that, like around 2020, there were a lot of artists that wanted [00:03:00] to learn how to create a sustainable art business.

Not just learn how to paint, because a lot of these artists already knew how to paint and were phenomenal artists. They just wanted to learn maybe the marketing or the financials or really just how to pretty much take their artwork off the easel and put it out into the world. And so that was just another fulfilling piece was coaching artists and mentoring them on how to do that and seeing them flourish and learn things that I enjoy and that comes so easy to me.

And just seeing them pick up on it and just seeing where they go in their art careers has been really fulfilling. So it’s kind of like another double whammy of meshing those two loves of business and art.

Jenny: Yeah, it’s so beautiful. And I’ll tell you that the way that I found you originally was through Instagram.

You are very strong in social media usage. I was immediately a fan of your art, but then also your message around really empowering people to be able to, [00:04:00] bring their art more into the front of their life versus something that had to be done on nights and weekends. So it’s a really beautiful message.

JESSICA: Oh, well thank you very much. Yeah. I mean, and I think that a lot of artists, we don’t hear that enough of just the empowerment, and I hate this saying, the starving artist. I just always wanna get away from that and like, not throw that out there. Cause I feel like that’s an identity that we carry with us when we keep throwing that out there and it’s like, it does, we don’t have to be starving artists.

We can really create a very sustainable and lucrative art business, I mean, it’s a real thing. So being able to share that with artists and really empower them means a lot to me. 

Jenny: I love it. Well, I wanna talk a little bit about our Artist and Residence program. The reason why we created it, and we’re so proud to have you as our inaugural artist, but we created the Artist and Residence Program because, as an organization, one of our core values is really understanding that the [00:05:00] work that we do is really important and we’re very passionate about improving patients access to care.

But at the end of the day, we’re all so much larger than our jobs. We’re so much larger than our job titles or our salaries even that we make for our positions. We’re whole people. And so we thought the Artist in Residence program would be a really great way to be able to serve a dual purpose, not only to be able to have beautiful art to be able to incorporate into our social media profiles, our podcast art (anybody listening to or watching this podcast right now, it’s Jessica’s Art that is featured for our episode titles). You’re all over our website. We have an Artist in Residence page that highlights you. And so in addition to being able to kind of have that physical reminder of seeing the art, it’s also an opportunity to be able to provide a small financial stipend to an artist to allow them more time to create art and do the things they’re passionate [00:06:00] about and relieve just a little bit of that financial pressure.

So one thing I’d love to hear from you, because right now our applications are open for 2023 Artists, I’d love to hear from you is any advice or guidance to artists that might be thinking about applying or anything that maybe you got out of the participation in relationship this year, I would just love some candid feedback from you.

JESSICA: Yes. It’s wonderful that you all do this and your organization does this. First of all, I just wanted to commend you on that because it really does feel good, especially when you create an art business, to be able to collaborate with people that share the same values and beliefs that you have.

So just being in, collaborating with all of you on how you empower artists and, just the positivity and sharing the joy and really supporting artists an having that message, it’s just what you do is wonderful and it’s just a joy to collaborate with you. Just to be able to share the same values is really great.

The [00:07:00] collaboration has just been wonderful. Your team is great. I was very honored to be able to meet them in person and just, they’re also. I don’t know, like vivacious, I can’t think of the right word right now, but they’re all just wonderful people. So just again, being part of your organization in that way and part of your mission is just incredible. 

So being able to have the colorful, joyful paintings kind of spread this positive message and positive air throughout the website and the podcast images and in all of these things it has been really great to be able to meet all of you and be part of your mission as well and financially, the fact that you all, you, it’s just wonderful to see other organizations that find value in artists. So the fact that you all financially support the artists as well, your artists and residents on a month to month basis, everything throughout a year is just really, it means a lot and it really shows a lot of who you are as an organization and [00:08:00] what you value.

So the collaboration’s just been wonderful and seeing all the all the wonderful colorful images just pop up and just how you’ve incorporated that into your brand is really beautiful. So I’m just really honored and and some advice for artists. I mean, it really comes down to having the courage to really share your artwork, to share your vision and your mission and and what lights you up sometimes.

I know that sharing artwork is very, it can be intimidating because it’s an extension of ourselves and and it seems very personal, of course, when we create our artwork. And so to be able to show up even on social media, it’s a lot. It takes a lot. So really just encouraging artists to continue to share their artwork and not just leave these beautiful paintings on an easel or hanging in a studio to really put them out into the world to push you to have that courage to do that. Because like you mentioned, that’s how you came across me on Instagram and it really took many years of courage to show up and share what I’m creating, even [00:09:00] though it’s, it’s very intimidating, but but good things can really come out of it.

So being able to take that first leap and that first step can really create a lot of momentum and a lot of great things. 

Jenny: It can. So, for anybody who’s listening, who is interested, either if you are an artist or if you know of an artist and have somebody that you’re a big fan of, I’m gonna put a link to the Artist in Residence Nomination form.

It is super simple. We don’t need you to write a novel. We really are just looking for the artist’s name and social media handles. So share it with us. We’re going to be making our decision mid-December. And reaching out to the artist to be able to solidify our 2023 artist. One thing I wanted to note before we wrap Jessica, is I wanted to just comment on what a rockstar you are for being on the podcast today.

Jessica had a baby, her first baby, a daughter, Florence, last week! So you’re a Wonder woman Jessica! [00:10:00] 

JESSICA: Thanks. Today is her one week birthday . So exactly one week ago. Even though I look like this, I did put on makeup today, so I feel pretty, so I feel really good, but I thought it was important to still show up and and to be live and real and that it’s not always…I was up very late last night. But to show that, I mean, it’s very real, like we can show up as we are and still share a wonderful message. And, it doesn’t always have to be Instagrammable or have a beautiful filter in order to have something impactful and meaningful in this world.

Jenny: Oh, I love it. It’s such, such a perfect message. Well, Jessica, I’m gonna link to your social media profiles in this show note so everybody can follow your art and reach out to you. What’s your plans for coaching of artists through the end of this year and early next year? If somebody’s interested in being coached, should they just reach out through your Instagram account?

What would you [00:11:00] prefer? 

JESSICA: Yes. So currently everything’s wrapped up for the year. I do have one coaching client that I’m just wrapping up here for the month of December. I will be accepting clients again. It looks like they will be starting again in February, so anytime between now and December at this point, if they wanna reach out through Instagram, would be perfect.

I will have an area on my website here within the next month that shares more about what’s integrated, what’s incorporated in the coaching. It’s a 90 day coaching and mentoring experience. So, I’ll have more information on that on my website. But yes, if they wanna just show up in my direct messages on Instagram and learn a little more and just chat, that would be absolutely perfect.

Jenny: Well, Jessica, it has been a joy sharing this year with you, and I can’t wait to continue to stay in touch over time. Thank you.

JESSICA: Likewise. Thanks again for this opportunity. It’s been great. Jenny: Of course. Well, thank you everybody for tuning in. We hope to see you on our next episode of We Are, Marketing Happy.

EPISODE 10

Today Jenny welcomes Deb Nevins, EVP of Customer Strategy at Point of Care Network (POCN). POCN is a platform whose goal is to help NPs and PAs practice at the top of their medical license. They help connect them to education, mentoring, and career opportunities. 

This episode discusses: 

Watch their discussion below or listen to the podcast, We Are Marketing Happy – A Healthcare Marketing Podcast.

Other Links and Resources

Connect with Deb on LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/debnevins/

Connect with Jenny on LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/jennybristow/

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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. I’m super excited that this week we are joined by Deb Nevins. She is EVP of customer strategy for POCN. 

So Deb, first of all, thank you so much for joining us today and I’d love to get started. If you could just tell our listeners a little bit about POCN and the organization’s background. 

DEB: Okay, great. Hi Jenny. Thanks for having me here. So POCN is Point Of Care Network and it’s a platform focused on helping [00:01:00] NPs and PAs practice at the top of their medical license. So we were started back in 2014 really to support the NPs and PAs, and we’ve done a lot of things over the last eight years that really help them accomplish the goals that they need to accomplish.

So we have educational opportunities available to them, mentoring career opportunities. We partner with the AANP and the APA. During covid, we had content on our sites from the CDC. So we’ve really done a lot to try to help NPs and PAs practice at the top of their license. And we also host America’s Top NP in America’s Top PA for five years running now.

So that’s a really great opportunity for them to showcase each other and how they’re doing in their profession. 

Jenny: So I poked around a little bit on the website and there’s a lot of content, the continuing education credits. There’s a lot of value given there to this audience. Let’s talk about it though, through the lens of a marketer, because that’s, you know, how we’re approaching this [00:02:00] conversation today.

What value is there to marketers in the healthcare space, specifically in life sciences, to really be thinking about targeting NPs and PAs? 

DEB: That’s a great question. And so, you know, one side of our business is all about supporting the NPs and PAs and in doing that, we’ve been able to create the other side of our business, which is really supporting life sciences as they try to engage with the NPs and PAs.

And so over the course of the last, it’s been going on for a long time, but the last eight years, specifically as we’ve been gathering this data, you know, NPs and PAs are taking a, a much larger role in care of patient. They account for a third of all prescribing clinicians in America. Right now, there’s over 513,000 of them, and they all have NPI numbers and they’re all able to write in all 50 states and the District of Columbia.

So they are writing scripts, and our data actually shows that greater than 30% in some cases of the MBX and TRX are coming from [00:03:00] NPs and PAs. So, you know, really an important audience across all therapeutic areas to be considering if you’re not already. 

Jenny: Absolutely. So if you’re a marketer and you’re doing some HCP marketing, how would your messaging or targeting change if you’re wanting to loop in this audience?

DEB: There’s a couple things you can do. I mean, one, obviously they’re engaged across multiple platforms, right? But what we would say, or what I would say is you need to be intentional in how you think about engaging with your NPs and PAs, right? They, they want the same clinical message that you’re giving to the MDs, right?

But then they want it a little bit more holistically. They think different about their patients. They get to know their patients, they know their families, they know their lives. They’re thinking about, you know, how is this medicine gonna impact my patient? What are the cost implications that I have to be concerned about?

And these are things that we would say to marketers, Make sure you include that, right? You don’t have to necessarily [00:04:00] change that scientific clinical message, right? They want that education too, but you’re gonna have to broaden it a little bit to make it so that they know not only the the why about the medicine, why their patients should be on it, but then how it’s gonna impact them.

Jenny: Yeah, absolutely. That’s an excellent point. Let’s shift topics a little bit. I wanna talk a little bit about NP and PA recruitment because we do tons of marketing for healthcare organizations across the country and I feel like it’s a pendulum. We’re either helping them with patient acquisition campaigns or we’re helping them recruit difficult to fill positions and nursing positions throughout their career in different tenure levels.

These are some of the most difficult to fill positions for all organizations across the country. What advice would you give to organizations that are trying to recruit NPs and PAs today? 

DEB: So I would say there, there’s lots of places you can go to look for them, right? And they’re very eager to learn. And, and most NPs and PAs don’t come out of school [00:05:00] with some specialty.

Right. And, and they do move around, but they don’t move around at crazy rates. What they’re doing is they’re finding something they like and then they’re moving from one institution to another. They might be in an academic setting and then they decide they wanna go to a community setting for a little while or vice versa, right?

So an academic setting is gonna be much more regimented. A community setting is gonna be a little bit more opportunity to be autonomous. And so I would say there’s platforms out there like ours, we have career opportunities that we post on our site. But there’s platforms out there where they can find specific NPs and PAs right?

They can also go to the ANP or the AAP every year. They have their annual meetings. They’re always doing recruiting at those meetings. So there’s lots of ways that you can engage them, but remember, they are on a mission to continuously learn. Not only do they have to have those continuing education [00:06:00] credits but they also are eager to learn. And the ones that I’ve talked to, they’re excited to have the opportunity to continue to evolve themselves. 

So I think that’s really good way that, just to think about where am I looking for them? What type of employee am I looking for? Do I want somebody I can put in an academic setting that’s been in community for a while or vice versa?

They’ve been in academic, I wanna give ’em an opportunity in community. 

Jenny: That’s a really great point. We had a client, it was about a year ago. They were trying to bring in hundreds of nurses. It was a really large healthcare system, lots of locations across the country. And we pushed back because a lot of their messaging was around hiring bonuses.

And so we pushed back and said, Is that really what they care about? And so we actually went and we did a lot of research looking at what all the competitors in each of the geographies were promoting. We made a list of all of the key call to actions. Made a list of everything that this employer could offer and then we tested and some of the most effective called actions had nothing to do [00:07:00] with compensation.

It was like you’re saying much more around opportunity to grow, opportunity to be, you know, within a certain specialty area or within a certain sort of culture for their organization. So I think really peeling that level back and not making assumption that it’s all about compensation is a really good.

DEB: I think it’s more about quality of life and also being noticed. And, I can tell you, you know, one of the things that we’ve heard over and over and, and we recommend colleague to colleague or peer to peer type of engagements, right? Where you have an NP speaking to an NP group, whether it’s a dinner meeting or webinar or anything like that, because they wanna have the opportunities to stand up and, and speak up and, and they want to be in front of their peers and they actually, when they get those opportunities, they share those things. So it’s a much more community type feeling. I don’t feel like they’re as much of a eog eat dog kind of thing, right? They’re more of like, how do we lift each other up? 

Jenny: Yep. I completely agree.

It’s a really wonderful thing about the [00:08:00] healthcare sector overall. Well, Deb, thank you so much for being on the episode today. I am going to link to not only pocn.com, but also your LinkedIn profile, so if anybody’s interested in reaching out to you and learning more, they can reach out. So thank you again for being on.

DEB: Thanks, Jenny. Appreciate it.

EPISODE 09

As internet users, SEO, or Search Engine Optimization, is something that we interact with everyday whether we realize it or not. For healthcare providers, it’s a low-cost way to help reach more people, and ensure you show up in Google searches when they are trying to find care. No one knows this better than today’s guest, our very own Senior Digital Producer, Suzie Schmitt.

Suzie discusses how important it is to use terms that patients would use when searching, which may often not be the same terms doctors would use. She talks about the differences between desktop and mobile optimization, the advantages of using Google My Business, and how to best set it up to get zero-click conversions coming directly to you. For healthcare providers Suzie explains just how granular to get with your listing so that patients can have enough information at a first glance, just how important ratings and reviews can be, and so much more. 

Finally, Suzie explains which areas of SEO to focus on for providers that are just getting started with their search engine visibility. 

If you’re ready to reach more patients, today’s episode is a must listen!

Watch their discussion below or listen to the podcast, We Are Marketing Happy – A Healthcare Marketing Podcast.

Other Links and Resources

Connect with Suzie on LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/suzie-schmitt/

Connect with Jenny on LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/jennybristow/

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Full Transcript:

JENNY: [00:00:00] Hi friends. Welcome to this week’s episode of We Are, Marketing Happy, a healthcare marketing podcast. I’m Jenny Bristow and I’m so excited to have with me today Suzie Schmitt. She is a Senior Digital Producer here at H&H and I’m so excited to have her on. 

Today we’re gonna be diving in and talking about search engine optimization and Google My Business or Google places through the lens of healthcare and all of our healthcare providers we work with. 

So, Suzie, to start out, I’d love to have you provide a little bit of context and understanding. We have a lot of providers, hospital systems, etc, that come to us and they’re trying to understand how much energy or effort they should put into search engine optimization.

So can you give us some context about where it lies and kind of the value for patients that SEO provides? 

Suzie: For sure. So SEO for Healthcare provides a really unique opportunity because it lets providers meet their [00:01:00] prospective patients where they’re searching on the internet. So whether or not that’s something that the provider would call that service, or it’s something that might be a little mislabeled, it’s a great way for everybody to get connected for providing the services they need. 

JENNY: Yeah. Let’s talk about that phrase a little bit – “whether it’s something that is mislabeled.” 

We had a client a couple of years ago, and they had a policy where within their hospital system, the service lead or department lead had to approve all website content changes that were push live.

And I will never forget the head of cardiology being so mad that we were using the phrase heart health and heart doctor. He was so angry. He was like, that’s not what it’s called. It’s cardiology. Well, maybe to you Doctor, but to an average patient, we have to really understand the keyword that they’re using.

So what process do you go through when we start working with a provider and let’s say they have a couple of specific service lines they [00:02:00] want to promote. What’s a process that you would go through to help them understand what patients are actually searching? 

Suzie: So we always start with keyword research, which is where we start with the seed keywords that the provider gives us.

And then from there we find all of the other different versions and variations that the actual patients are searching. And a lot of times they are not what the doctors would describe them as. But it’s really important because these are people who are searching for care and they’re searching for what they know.

And it’s especially, it’s more prominent with patients who need care the most. Since a lot of the communities that have less access to care, they also tend to have a lower level of health literacy. So in a lot of situations, we need to meet them with what they’re searching and serve them the proper results and kind of help educate them along the.

JENNY: Yeah, that’s an excellent point. I mean, one thing that we’ve worked with a lot of clients on, for example, is really understanding the difference between desktop optimization versus mobile [00:03:00] optimization when it comes to site speed. And that’s something I know we talk a lot about – content. Now we’re thinking about seo, but site architecture changes are really where you and your team spend a lot of time.

So let’s talk about that a little bit. If you’re thinking about, you know, those most fragile communities, those that really need access to care, where should mobile optimization be as far as prioritization? 

Suzie: Yeah, so another huge part of this is within Google My Business, because a lot of these people, one, they either don’t have a computer, so they only have access to cell cell phones, and they also tend to, we’re seeing a huge increase in zero click conversions, so people who never leave the search engine results page.

So they’re seeing that listing, they’re getting their information from that business listing, and they’re making the call from there. These are people that generally don’t have as much time as they would like to do the research, so they’re gathering what they can from that search engine results page and making a call there.

JENNY: And that is an [00:04:00] element of search engine optimization that a lot of the clients don’t think about before they come to us is that map listing. And for people that are, you know, not familiar with what we’re talking about, whenever you do a search that is local, Google often tries to show a map and has local provider listings or local restaurant listings or whatever it may have be.

On the map that then you can click to it and it expands in a little knowledge, info panel, and then it lists a little bit of key information about that provider. So, so many different questions, and so many different things we can talk about here. 

How does a business optimize for Google My business? It’s not the same as optimizing for a website. 

Suzie: No, it’s not. It’s actually, I would say easier to optimize your Google listing than it is your website. It’s a lot more cut and dry. Google really does have a simple way of guiding you through the process, and really, the more information you provide, you can get as granular as showing which insurance providers you accept [00:05:00] and whether or not your facility is accessible, whether or not you offer telehealth appointments, all from the search engine results page, and it’s a proprietary Google product, which means that you’re doing exactly what Google wants you to do, which is so rare in the SEO world to know exactly what you need to do and then be able to execute. 

JENNY: Yeah, it’s definitely for clients and people that are trying to show the exact return on investment whenever they’re talking about SEO activities.

That is an area that’s good to focus on. Explain what zero click conversions, what that phrase means for people that haven’t heard it before. 

Suzie: Sure. So if you’ve ever done anything where you search for a service, and then you see an appropriate business pop up and you click the phone number directly from Google.

That’s a zero click conversion. It means that that customer never made it to your website. So you really need to think about your Google profile as almost a mini version of your website because a lot of people are gonna get all of their information just from that. [00:06:00] 

JENNY: Yep. That’s an excellent point. Let’s talk about some information that you can upload because clearly address phone number. You’ve made a great point about insurances that you accept and accessibility. Some things that we run into that I think clients don’t think about are things like photos and then reviews. And the role that reviews play in the ranking if it does happen to be a competitive phrase. 

Suzie: It really plays a huge role.

When Google gives these results, they’re prioritize on a few different factors. They’re gonna prioritize on your location. So how close this place is to you, the relevance of it, depending on what you searched, and then also the rankings. A place with higher rankings is inherently going to rank higher on Google, so it’s important that you are getting those rankings and those reviews and that you’re also replying to reviews, something that may be a bad review, put a positive spin on that and say, Hey, you know, we’re really sorry. This is not how we usually do things and [00:07:00] here’s how we’re gonna make this right. And that can make people feel more comfortable if they feel like they’re putting their health in the hands of somebody who’s responsible and actually cares.That really carries a lot of weight. 

JENNY: Yeah, that is an excellent point, Suzie. And a step so many people miss, because they are monitoring all their different social media channels and they just have a lot of inputs. So it’s easy to forget about that. 

One thing that we’ve done for clients, and I think an interesting decision that people have to make when they’re going down that GMB setup process is deciding if they’re going to be creating, optimizing and managing listings just for each location, or if they’re also gonna dig into the next step and actually do it for each physician that works for their location.

So what are some tips or some thoughts around thinking about whether you should move on, you know, to the physician level or if you’re newer, if you should just stick at the location level. 

Suzie: I think it’s always a good idea to optimize to some degree at the physician level because people really, they don’t choose a practice.

[00:08:00] They choose a doctor and they choose that on recommendations and then things they read on the internet. And if a patient that has specific needs, maybe they really need somebody with an excellent bedside manner. Maybe they’re looking for somebody who specializes in something really specific, then that is going to be at the physician level.

So it’s important to make sure that you’re passing that information along. 

JENNY: Yeah, that’s an excellent point. So if somebody is wanting to get started with search engine optimization, maybe their website sat dormant for the last couple of years, you know, maybe they had something more important they were focused on.

If now they’re ready to kind of like refocus on the improvement of their rankings, would you recommend that they start at the organic search level as far as website optimizations or GMB? And how should they make that decision of budgeting prioritization. 

Suzie: I would recommend that they start with the website optimizations because all of those things will support the GMB listing because when you list a service, it’s gonna have to link to your website and you’re going to [00:09:00] need to have some backup information.

So you wanna get your foundation really solid and then get your GMB profile in a place where that supports that content. 

JENNY: That’s a great recommendation. Last question. We have a lot of clients that have to go through that decision of should they manage it either themselves or alongside their agency partner directly through the Google interface, or should I use a third party tool to be able to manage it?

At what point or how many locations do you think it makes sense to be able to start thinking about using a third party tool? 

Suzie: If you have more than two or three locations, or if you’re operating in more than one market, I think it’s important to start using a third party tool. Otherwise, it is so easy to get bogged down and you’re going to save a lot of time if you just go ahead and use another tool to help you manage that and you’ll much more likely to not miss notifications [00:10:00] whenever somebody does leave a review that you have an opportunity to respond to. Absolutely. Which is so key and you just wanna make sure that. , you’re continuing to post on GMB. You can post to that. A lot of people don’t realize that, that it is kind of a micro site with a mini social media aspect.

So it is really important to keep that up to date and you can manage that a lot more easily through third party tools. You can schedule those posts out. If you know that you have, you know, Hey, our flu shots will be available on X date, go ahead and schedule a post out so you don’t have to remember it.

It’s a great way to get things off your plate now and make sure they’re still done. 

JENNY: Yeah. I love it. Perfect. Well, Suzie, thank you so much for being on today and talking a little bit about this topic. We’ve had so many conversations about it with clients and folks, you know, prospects over the last couple of weeks that I think it was good to just talk about it a little bit more in depth. So thank you so much for being on. And for listeners, please remember to subscribe and [00:11:00] share and provide some feedback. Let us know what you’d like to hear about in an upcoming episode. Thanks for tuning in.

EPISODE 08

You order your food on an app, you order your furniture on an app, you plan your travel on an app… So why shouldn’t there be something similar for your healthcare? Jenny welcomes Sal Braico, CEO and Co-Founder of Pivotal Health, to the show to explain how he has pulled it off. Sal has worked in healthcare for 20 years, and still realizes just how difficult it can be to navigate the confusing and changing world of health insurance and care. On top of that, realizing the barriers to access for many people to even get the care they need. He discovered some organizations doing clinician house calls, which was great, but Sal knew that this could be something much more by leveraging tech and automation. So he and his friend, who happens to be a tech entrepreneur, started their own company and did just that. With their combined experience, they were able to choose the right tools, and the right designs to streamline processes in a remarkable way. 

They began marketing and outreach, and they’ve expanded to other cities around Wisconsin. The response has been overwhelming and in fact, many people think it’s too good to be true. Using methods from online shopping and bringing it into the healthcare realm is reshaping the way that people can control their medical needs with more ease and convenience.

Watch their discussion below or listen to the podcast, We Are Marketing Happy – A Healthcare Marketing Podcast.

Other Links and Resources

Learn more about Pivotal Health: https://pivotalhealth.care/

Connect with Sal on LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/sal-braico/

Connect with Jenny on LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/jennybristow/

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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 today’s episode of We Are, Marketing Happy. Today, I am super excited to have Sal Braico on. He is the CEO and co-founder of Pivotal Health, which is a company located in Wisconsin. They’re in three metro regions right now, and they’re really changing the way that consumers have the ability to access health care.

So Sal, I’d love to start off with you just telling us a little bit about your organization, the timeline, when it started, and what you’re doing to be able to provide patients this [00:01:00] improved access to care. 

SAL: Yeah. Jenny, thank you so much for having me on. So, you know, I’ve been in healthcare for about 20 years now. I’ve started, run, and scaled multiple healthcare companies, so I’ve seen healthcare from many different angles. Over the years, I’ve just become more frustrated myself with having to try to navigate it. You know, even as someone that understands how health insurance works and kind of what’s, going on in a provider organization.

It’s still difficult for someone like me to even make appointments and get prescriptions filled and to try to get help from my family. And it’s, it seems like it’s almost purposely designed to be confusing and you know, that’s not the case, but, that’s what it seems like.

And, again, that’s coming from someone who really understands healthcare. So, someone who doesn’t really understand healthcare, someone who hasn’t been in this industry for [00:02:00] so long. I mean, I can’t imagine what it seems like for them. So back in early 2020, I ran across a couple of companies across the country that were doing these clinician house calls, and I thought, Oh, that’s pretty cool.

I really like that. I really like that it brings the healthcare to the patient right off the bat. That should be a better way so, I recruited a friend of mine, Pete Johnson, who is a tech entrepreneur. He’s started run, scaled, multiple tech companies. And so he and I started to dig into this.

You know, there are these other companies that are doing these house calls. Most of them are not really leveraging tech in smart ways. They’re basically recreating traditional healthcare organizations with the big billing teams and the big reception teams and all this kind of stuff. And you know, if you try to use their app, it’s not a true app.

It’s just like a web form kind of thing. And it doesn’t really seem like it’s integrated with their electronic medical record. I mean, it just triggers them [00:03:00] to call. So we said, okay. We can leverage tech in a smarter way to really automate everything around the visit. Because the value in healthcare happens when the provider is with the patient, right?

That’s when the value happens. Everything else is a drain. And so we’ve automated the scheduling, the triage, the payments, the charting. All these things we’ve automated so that the provider can very cost effectively go to you at a time that you pick. 

And so we started the company in late 2020. We started seeing patients in the Madison, Wisconsin area, spring of 2021. And it was like a friends and family kind of thing, just kind of letting people know. Before that we actually recruited a Chief medical Officer, Dr. Andrew Culp. So he actually started the company with us, and he’s a [00:04:00] very entrepreneurial clinician.

You know, like I said, we would let people know, Hey, we’re just kind of doing this. We were starting to get our contracts with insurance companies and so, you know, over time now we’re in network with all major payers and so then fall of 2021, it really started to take off. And then we opened up a second metro office in the Milwaukee area, and we have kept on growing.

And then in August we opened up in Lacrosse, Wisconsin. So now we’re seeing patients in three metro areas. Like I said, we’re in network with all major payers. We’ve got full-time providers out there seeing patients. We have a very small back office because like I said, we’re automating almost everything and people love it.

Jenny: I completely understand why they love it. I’m in St. Louis, so I cannot use your services yet. I hope you come south soon. I have three young boys and I can only imagine the ease and amazingness of having somebody come to my home for them [00:05:00] whenever illness strikes. 

So let’s talk about your app a little bit more because I think we’ve worked with really large hospital systems in the process of watching them try to integrate their existing systems into an app is always a huge headache. And they always say at some point during the process, Oh, I wish we could just throw everything away and start over from scratch. And you had the beautiful ability to actually start from scratch with no preconceived notions about what what it had to look like.

So talk to me a little bit about that process and then also from the patient’s perspective, the ease of scheduling an appointment. 

SAL: Sure. So I mean, you’re right. I mean, when you have these huge legacy systems and processes, it is incredibly difficult to try to build new solutions around those. And I ran a healthcare IT company before this, so I mean, I’ve seen it firsthand.

So with this opportunity, we were able to really look for best of breed tools, you know, the best tools out there that would [00:06:00] serve this mission, right? And so we chose. Athena Electronic Medical Record. That’s our backend. And the reason why that we picked that was because it had the most robust APIs out, by far.

So we knew that we can build our own mobile app and do other things that would fully integrate with that. So we’ve saved a tremendous amount of cost too, because we didn’t have to have like a big database. We didn’t have to implement Oracle or, you know, SQL Server or Snowflake or anything because we’re using the electronic medical record as the backend. 

You know, the cost to develop apps has come down tremendously. I mean, you know, years ago what we did would’ve cost millions. Right? We did this for a couple hundred thousand. I mean, that’s amazing. Really. And you know, with my background, with Pete’s background, we were able to really kind of, again, follow best practices, what is the best design, you know, get a really good [00:07:00] specification for the app so that again, it’s super, super easy. 

Jenny: So you have this app, you have the entire system set up ready to serve patients. What was your go to market strategy? How did you actually raise awareness within the patient populations of the metro areas? 

I mean, it was a lot of, um, social media just trying to get the, you know, um, get the word out there.

SAL: You know, This is, this is not a solution that’s for everyone. There are a lot of people that really like going to the doctor and they like to sit in the waiting room. I don’t know why, but there are people that actually like that. And so, but there are populations that this is perfect for who immediately see the value.

And that tends to skew a little bit younger. You know, people are so used to ordering food with their phone to ordering mattresses with their phone. I mean, years ago to buy a a mattress, you had to go to the store. You go and you lay down on the mattress and, Oh yeah, I think this is okay, And then you would like buy it. Now you just go to, um, Casper or to [00:08:00] whatever, and you just place the order and the thing shows up at your outdoor. People are used to that. And during Covid that accelerated, Right. Even more so, you know, it’s reaching those target populations, um, getting the word out there, like I said, via social media.

We do some Google AdWords. We’ve started to reach out to employers that have the health plans that we’re contracted with, and that’s been really successful because it’s not a sale. I’m not going to them with some new digital health tool that’s like, Oh, we’re gonna save you money, right? I mean everyone says that, right?

It’s like, No, this is in network. This is super convenient, and people immediately see the value. Actually, the most common response that I get, Oh, I don’t believe you. I don’t believe that you guys are doing this. No. I’m like, No, no, no. I’m serious. You, you picked the time. You tell us how we show up at your house.

Oh, and by the way, it costs the same or less. People were like, No, I, No. Come on. I’m like, Yeah, no, I’m [00:09:00] serious. So that, that’s the biggest challenge that we have, is to convince people that we’re not full of it. Like this is real. We’re actually doing this today. I mean, all of the traditional hospital systems, there’s so much bureaucracy.

Jenny: The thought of somebody being able to just start from scratch and make it this easy does seem crazy. So it sounds like as you’re walking through your target audience, it sounds like you’ve done a lot of persona development work of really understanding who the buyer is what their pain points are. I mean, did you go through a formal process of defining that or is it something that you just kind of knew from the beginning and have kind of followed that path?

SAL: Yeah, I mean, we knew from the beginning because we are the perfect customer, right? We’re all busy professionals. I mean, so we built something that I want to use, you know, this is common sense. I mean, you know, people wanna save time, right? People want to get things on their schedule.

There’s processes, you know, that Amazon or these other companies have already created that we’re [00:10:00] copying. I mean, buying things from your app is, People have been doing that for, for years. It’s gotten better and better over time, but we’re just bringing those things into healthcare.

Healthcare still uses faxes. I still, I laugh whenever I hear someone say fax. I’m like, I can’t believe. I mean, but we’re still, that’s how healthcare is, right? It’s so far behind, right? Yeah. And then also, also what I’ve seen too is. A lot of traditional healthcare organizations, they look at these rules and they kind of take it to the extreme right?

Like, they’re like, Well, you can’t use, um, text message. I say, Well, wait, why? I said, Yes, you can. Sure you can. If the patient consents to it, you can, you can definitely text message. Now, you know, we’re not gonna text you a sensitive test result, right? We’re not gonna do that. Patients want to communicate in that way and as long as they consent to and all that kind of stuff, it’s totally fine. I mean, I could, if you consent to it, I could take your test results. I could put them [00:11:00] on a, on a billboard. If you consent to it. It’s all about consent for sure. That’s how it is, right? I’ve seen bigger organizations are like, Oh, we can’t use SMS text.

Jenny: Yes, absolutely. Everybody’s so afraid about HIPAA compliance that they just choose not to engage at all with smart technology.

SAL: Right, And you just have to do it smart. You have to, you know, But that’s what patients want. That’s how they’re communicating with their friends. That’s how I mean that when, when I’m talking with my kids, it’s through text message.

Right? That’s how, that’s what it is, right? I mean, you know, and, and that’s what people want. And so that’s what we’re doing is just kind of bringing it to what people want. 

Jenny: So where should we expect to see you in the next five years? What’s gonna happen with Pivotal? 

SAL: We’re growing, we’re looking to expand to more metro areas.

We’re trying to figure out what are the next metro areas. Having started in Wisconsin makes logical sense for us to expand [00:12:00] to other states in the middle of the country. But we’ll see. As entrepreneurs, we are very opportunistic. So maybe we’ll pop up in Charlotte or in Atlanta.

I can’t say for sure, but St. Louis. Maybe we’re, we’re definitely looking at it, it’s on our short list. I mean, what we know is that people love this, right? And so it’s, there really is no place in the country that we can’t go to. So it’s just a question of us trying to use our resources as smartly as we can to figure out what makes the most sense.

Jenny: Absolutely. Well, Sal, I wish you nothing but the best. I’m so excited to watch your trajectory over the next couple of years. Thank you for being on. 

For all listeners, I’m gonna put not only a link to Sal’s LinkedIn profile in the notes, but also we’ll link to their website. So if you wanna learn more about Pivotal Health, you can dig in.So thanks for tuning in folks before to seeing you on the next episode.[00:13:00]

EPISODE 07

At-home medical equipment isn’t something new, but there is fresh innovation of remote monitoring tech that is changing the face of patient/doctor interactions. On today’s episode, Jenny welcomes one of the top innovators in this field, Bryan Potter, Head of Remote Patient Monitoring at Greater Goods, one of the leading providers of smart medical devices for remote patient monitoring. Their company was recently recognized by Forbes, for having the two top blood pressure monitoring devices on the market. Their products are a far cry from the older, confusing and cumbersome home devices. It’s a new frontier in the way that patients interact with their healthcare providers remotely.

 Bryan gives a brief history of in-home monitoring devices and also what he sees as their future. He lays out the issues and hurdles that some more well-known tech companies face in being able to scale their products, and how his organization’s focus on patient needs and financial realities shape their products.

Watch their discussion below or listen to the podcast, We Are Marketing Happy – A Healthcare Marketing Podcast.

Other Links and Resources

Connect with Bryan on LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/bryanpotter/

Connect with Jenny on LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/jennybristow/

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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 today’s podcast episode of We Are, Marketing Happy, a Healthcare Marketing Podcast. Today I’m so excited to have Bryan Potter on. He is the head of remote patient monitoring solutions at Greater Goods. Why don’t we get started, Bryan, by having you tell us a little bit about Greater Goods and the RPM work you’re doing.

BRYAN: Yeah, so first off, thanks so much for having us on. We really do appreciate it. So Greater Goods. We’ve been around for about 17 years at this point, and we are based in St. Louis, Missouri. [00:01:00] Smart Scales is kind of where we got our start. And then we kind of evolved into smart medical devices.

We have become one of the top providers for smart medical devices in the remote patient monitoring space. And we’ve actually spun up a separate arm, a remote patient monitoring called My Everyday Health, which is actually what I also lead. 

Jenny: So I heard that you have recently been awarded some pretty big things from Forbes.Tell us a little bit about. 

BRYAN: Yeah, so we I just recently found out about this. So we were selected by Forbes – we have two of their top blood pressure monitor picks. So if you go to forbes.com, you can actually look up their blood pressure monitors and we have best kit and best value. So, It was kind of a great honor for us.

Definitely caught us off guard. Wasn’t expecting that at all. 

Jenny: Well, you deserve it. I mean, one of the reasons that I wanted to have you on is you and I are both located in the St. Louis, Missouri area and we met in person for coffee and you actually brought your blood oxygenation product to our meeting. You set it up. [00:02:00] Had me actually test it, and I was completely blown away. My grandmother has some remote patient or RPM solutions she has to do every single day for a nurse that monitors her remotely and the technology she has to use is so archaic with such a difficult interface, she often has to call either my mom or one of her granddaughters to come over to help her troubleshoot it. And so the first thing I thought of when I saw your solutions was, wow, this can massively improve a patient’s experience in the way that they interact with their physician or nurse remotely.

BRYAN: So, yeah, remote patient monitoring space is definitely an interesting one, especially when it comes to devices.

A lot of people I feel like forget the patient experience just as a whole. I mean, there are still some pretty archaic solutions out there where you basically get a giant box that has some questions and it, it is a cellular box, but you have wires coming out of it that might have a pulse box or a scale and a blood pressure monitor connected to it, and it, it’s [00:03:00] kind of unwieldy and, and just not very nice to have in the house.

Very cumbersome. Those go from patient to patient and they get kind of gross over time as well.  

Jenny: Absolutely. So one of the things that I would love to have you walk through for all of our listeners, is the evolution of remote patient monitoring tools, kind of when this industry became a thing for the first time, was technology sophisticated enough to be able to send something to a patient’s home?

And then where are we today? How do your tools be able to fit into the greater ecosystem? 

BRYAN: Yeah, so remote patient monitoring has actually been around for quite some time. It goes back even to early 3g. So if you remember your 3G cell phones, there were remote patient minor solutions that used 3g.

So there were cellular connections. Again, they were kind of archaic and at the way they were set up. And we really haven’t moved too far past those at this point. I mean, you can still get a box that might have a 4G or 5G connection in it, but it’s still a large box [00:04:00] that has three or four peripherals hanging off of it from a wire.

The patient experience on that is not great by any means. Now there are other solutions out there, other cellular devices and things like that out that really have helped kind of move remote patient monitoring along. But it’s still not a great patient experience. So one of the things that we try and do is when we develop our devices or our solutions, we try and take it from the approach of what’s the patient population, who’s actually going to be using these devices?

And how do we give them an experience where they actually enjoy using the devices and they don’t feel like they’re having to like walk to their counter every day and like walk of shame, if you will. And take all of their vitals. They can have a scale actually in their bathroom, so that makes sense.

They can take their weight, it actually gets registered, the providers can see it. Blood pressure monitor, same thing. They can keep it in their bedroom so no one actually has to know that they’re being monitored. Gives them a little bit more privacy and, and a little bit more dignity as well. 

Jenny: Yeah, that’s an excellent point.

I mean, one thing that I brought up whenever we met for the first time, because I had just [00:05:00] read, I think the week before Apple’s Health State of the Union or the state of the State, they were kind of walking through how they thought Apple devices were going to be the really big solution to remote patient monitoring.

And as a person who wasn’t super familiar with the ins and outs of the solutions that were available, I found their approach really interesting. But you had some really good points around why that may not be a super scalable model. I’d love to hear that perspective again. 

BRYAN: Yeah, so Apple obviously makes amazing products.

They have a great ecosystem, but they’re also expensive. You kind of pay for that Apple experience, if you will, in the remote patient monitoring space that those products don’t necessarily fit on a financial side. There’s reimbursement right now going on through cms, which is Medicare and Medicaid, and it’s not a whole lot of money that’s being reimbursed to the providers or the solution provider.

So you have to come up with a creative way to be able to give the patient a really good experience. To get the provider the data that they need, and make sure that the patient stays compliant. So how do you do that [00:06:00] and keep costs down? So that’s a very difficult thing to do. I think Apple, again, the solutions are amazing, but keeping the financial side of it.

The business is gonna be tough. 

Jenny: Yep. Absolutely. I agree with that completely. So talk to me about the future of RPM and where we’re going. I mean, if you were able to look five years into the future, what do you hope will be the case? Not only for patients here in the United States, but worldwide? 

BRYAN: Oh, that great question.

I mean, remote patient monitoring has the ability to really do some great things for healthcare. I mean, the more data that we can gather, the more we can kind of take a look at these different disease states and and see if there’s anything that we can do to actually prevent them even in real time.

But the problem is there’s not enough data being collected today, and the data that is being collected is pretty basic. So how do we gather the data and then apply either AI or or machine learning on top of it, and then understand what the patient’s outcome was when they had certain metrics or or readings with their vitals.

[00:07:00] I think in five years what we’re gonna be able to do is we’re gonna be able to have solutions that will help patients understand their health better, which hopefully will lead them down a better path. But at the same time, if somebody is about to have a major catastrophic life event, maybe we can have some earlier intervention and actually be able to provide some solutions for them before this catastrophic event happens.

Jenny: Yeah. And how about integration with telehealth? I mean, that’s an area that I see a lot of opportunity for growth, not just for ongoing monitoring, but also for one time appointments and being able to do evaluations and otherwise difficult to manage situations. 

BRYAN: Yeah, that’s gonna be a tough one to solve for these kind of one off visits, just because how do you get the technology or the information from the patient to the provider in a way that is meaningful and useful in making sure that the patient, if they’re taking their own vitals, is doing it appropriately? Yeah. I think that there’s definitely a lot of opportunity within telehealth, but there’s a lot of problems to solve as well, which is, how do you, how do you get the devices to them?

How if you need them [00:08:00] to go to a lab that might be two or three hours away, how can we do in-home blood tests? How can we do any sort of testing at home that is accurate, that helps the provider actually diagnose an issue. There’s definitely challenges there, and it’s gonna be something that I think we’re gonna be dealing with for quite some time.

But I think there’s definitely opportunities in the space. 

Jenny: Yeah, I think it’s gonna be really fun to watch how it can completely transform the patient experience, especially those in rural areas. Or some folks that are more socioeconomically disadvantaged without transportation or whatever you’re dealing with.

Well, Bryan, thank you so much for being on today’s episode. I’m gonna link to not only your website, but I’m going to link to the Forbes article as well as your LinkedIn profile in the show notes. So I would highly encourage anyone who’s interested in talking about this more in detail with you to reach out because you are a fabulous conversationalist and, I’m sure that they’d have a lot of fun.

BRYAN: I really appreciate that, Jenny. Thank you so much again for having us on. [00:09:00]

EPISODE 06

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: https://www.linkedin.com/in/noahlocke/

Connect with Jenny on LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/jennybristow/

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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.

EPISODE 05

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: https://www.linkedin.com/in/lindseycbrown/

Connect with Jenny on LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/jennybristow/

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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. 

EPISODE 04

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: https://www.linkedin.com/in/elletwo

Connect with Jenny on LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/jennybristow/

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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.