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Efficiently Bringing Healthcare Marketing Content to Consumers

The 2016 New England Society for Healthcare Communicators (NESHCo) conference promised a reboot and reimagining of health care strategy. And one thing is clear: We’re rebooting it with content, and lots of it. Content will win the day with meaningful consumer engagement, fostering new patient relationships and creating ongoing dialogue and brand loyalty.

Across the many valuable sessions 3 themes emerged for producing successful content:

  • Be Simple
  • Be Nimble
  • Be Practical

Be Simple

Dropping the medical language is mandatory to create useful content for consumers. Some tips to keep it simple include addressing concerns immediately, using laymen’s terms in describing conditions and procedures, and providing assurances to help ease the minds of worried patients. Get that out of the way first, then dive into more technical information as the topic requires. Some internal communications may be needed here to ease any provider concerns with simplifying language.

Be Nimble

The most relevant content aligns with real time opportunity. This means crafting content quickly to engage with emerging news or respond to consumer engagement related to existing content. In order to be nimble, have some processes in place that allow you to take advantage of content opportunities quickly. This might include ready access to a few key physicians or specialists that can provide soundbites, as well as pre-existing templates that can be immediately leveraged for new content. And remember, content doesn’t always have to come in highly produced video form (though that can be nice), so look for other vehicles to get it out fast.

Be Practical

Often health care marketers read “content” as “expensive.” Indeed, content cranking can easily become a drain on valuable time and resources. But speakers at NESHCo insisted that a marketing department of 3 people and limited budgets is not a good excuse. And we happen to agree. Control the content flood gates by beginning a pilot with a few best-fit service lines or initiatives. Supplement original content creation with strategic curated or syndicated content services that offer ready-made content carrying your brand. Finally, think ahead in planning campaigns about how materials can be repurposed for additional content use across your channels. Considering re-purposing needs in advance can set you up for success with a steady stream of content on the back-end.

We’re sure to review all kinds of rules of the health care content road as this topic continues to trend and evolve. But one thing is certain – the era of content in marketing is here to stay, and its health care strategists turn to get on board.

Key Topics from the 21st Annual Healthcare Marketing & Physician Strategies Summit



Being Chicagoans, Cows In Trees was quite proud of the outstanding summer weather we all enjoyed as a great backdrop to the 21st Annual Healthcare Marketing & Physician Strategies Summit.  

Energy and bustle were in the air as we came together to learn, share and network with like (and better yet, unlike) minds. All in all, a very engaging and productive time together. Here are the four topics that caught our attention from the Summit:

Content, Content, Content

So many breakout sessions focused on content, and other sessions included content as part of their case studies. Wendy Wilson of Geisienger told us that consumers aren’t looking for facilities first. Instead, they are searching for and sharing information about treatments relevant to their needs, and seeking overall satisfaction with their physicians. We later learned how The City of Hope has created a “content scout” position to seek new, relevant and reliable content.

Key Takeaway: More engaging content that educates and fosters conversation has stopping power and helps drive SEO.

Brand Engagement in the Digital World

We heard from Jackie Weder of Southeast Georgia Health System on how the role of health care brands has evolved from storytellers, to editors, to engagers.  Jackie shared strong examples of the powerful transition taking place within her organization to make the brand conversation a two-way street. Brands have developed beyond just creating content, and are now making genuine connections.

Key Takeaway: It was best summed up by Lisa Stockman of City of Hope — don’t just make content, look to nurture relationships in order garner new patients and drive commerce.

The Emergence of Health Care “Switching Strategies”

We all know that population health has led a new consumerism among patients. According to Linda MacCracken, while consumers find provider-switching a hassle, the digital economy enables consumer exploration and shopping, causing switching to increase. Marketers are responding to this dynamic by focusing on the intersection between patient experience and social engagement. They aim to minimize the number one barrier to consumers making health care decisions: confusion. Suzanne Hendery of Baystate Health says Edutainment is the way to go – educate and entertain at the same time to make information more interesting.

Key Takeaway: Meet patient prospects where they research and gather information to build meaningful, transparent engagement. Then show then why your organization can best meet their needs better than any other.

Big Data & Real Time Dashboarding to Drive and Impact Results

Avinash Kaushik, Digital Evangelist for Google and Wednesday’s keynote speaker, said that creating the best content requires creating the best dashboards to make better decisions and show sustained value. Traditional conversion funnels do not work and marketers should stop shoving people down them. People simply do not behave in manner they used to, so we must seek an alternate approach. He discussed how to develop sound analytics dashboard around the central elements to See, Think, Do and Care.

Key Takeaway: Don’t just regurgitate data and make it pretty. Set a plan in place ahead of time aligned with marketing intent, figure out what the results mean, make real time adjustments.

We know there were other topics buzzing around and would love to hear your take. As always, kudos to the outstanding job by Judy Neiman and her amazing staff at the Healthcare Strategy Institute for making the 21st Summit the biggest and most successful to date!  We look forward to seeing everyone in Austin, April 24-26 2017.

The Convergence of Wellness & Consumerism in Health Care


The relevancy of current health care brands is under distress in the era of population health given the collision course of these two concepts: Wellness and Consumerism. On the one hand, value-added health care is rooted in the paradigm shift to keep populations well and minimize hospital intervention.  On the other, given more patient financial responsibility and higher deductibles, consumer control and choice is greater than ever when “shopping” the price of health care.

Each concept is significant enough alone to merit an evolution in aspirational brand positionings.  However, it is somewhat daunting when both concepts need to be addressed. Here are some suggestions to consider when calibrating your brand moving forward:

4 keys to help health care brands embrace Wellness

  • Simplifying health care communications and interactions with older America will be a big winner moving forward
  • Moving beyond the squishy concept of wellness to demonstrating and supporting specific health improvements in daily life
  • Focus on the core demos of middle age and older Americans with key aspirational themes like:
    • This group is growing and not fading
    • 60 is the new 40
  • Evolve health care connection to life partner connection

4 ways to help align your health care brand with Consumerism

  • Demonstrate tangible quality outcomes through positive physician experience, strong hospital cleanliness and quality ratings and high patient satisfaction
  • Address patients’ priorities by providing the right care in the right setting at the right cost complete, providing cost estimates directly to the consumers
  • Accommodate patients busy lives by working around their schedules rather than the traditional approach that favors the hospitals. Several key examples are extended hours and same-day appointments.
  • Given the proliferation of free-standing, physician-owned clinics, walk-in clinics and retail drugstore clinics, understand the price elasticity of these types of services as not to be priced out of the market. While operations departments work on pricing efficiency, communicate the key benefits of your services over the competition that are most relevant to consumers.

The branding challenge to remain relevant is not only for hospitals, but insurers too.  Cleveland Clinic and Humana are examples of health systems and insurers taking real steps in the evolution of their brand. These and others are forming the vanguard of health care entities that understand the need to optimize their brands in the face of real and substantive change in health care across these two fronts.

Hopefully your health care entity is addressing the convergence of Wellness and Consumerism with real proof points in both areas and an aspirational brand positioning that can become real very soon. If you feel your entity is lagging in either area, we have experience with optimizing brands in the challenging times of population health and would love to start a conversation.

Health Care Ride Share

H&HN Magazine recently reported about health systems partnering with ride sharing services Uber and Lyft in order to help patients find reliable transportation for their appointments. It’s important for health care communicators to understand why that’s not surprising and how the new model of health care will continue to drive health providers to innovate around new ways of engaging with patients.

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3 Ways to Live Your Pediatric Brand Through Evidence-Based Design

Bringing your health care brand to life within your walls can always be challenging. And with smaller patients come both greater challenges and importance in bringing your brand to life through your facilities.

A pediatric care facility must balance the delivery of state of the art care with the feelings of assurance, warmth and comfort. It must engage, delight and provide fun while meeting the special needs of children and their families. There is little room for error and the design needs to be uncompromising to advance the emotional and physical healing that’s true to your brand experience.

Here are 3 ways your brand can strongly connect with pediatric patients and their families through facility design:

1. Smaller Means Bigger

It seems like children would need less space simply by their smaller size. However, spaces actually need to be bigger to stock the variety of sizes of equipment and other items needed when treating children ranging from neonatal to teenagers. The same goes for the range of medicines in the pharmacy and technology in the rehabilitation center as just a few examples. The bed sizes also need to either adjust or switch to accommodate the different development stages and ages.

Branding Opportunity: In patient rooms, accent the room in a way that delivers on the emotional connection your brand is trying to convey. Items such as posters, brochures, even screen savers and meal menus should all have a strong branded feel.

2. Think Family Center

When it comes to pediatric care, the young patient comes with the family almost every time. So, family support locations are essential, as well as playrooms and school rooms. Newer facilities have space for family meal times and have “meet and greet” private family gathering areas.

Branding Opportunity: Consider highlighting the Family Center with colors that exude your brand’s personality through the furniture, pictures and wall accent colors. Include branded materials in the form of table tents and brochures for both the parents and the young patients.

3. Broad Appeal that “Hugs” Everyone

Cutting edge facilities are designed to treat both the long-term patients familiar with the health care environment as well as infrequent or first time patients. The facility design needs to speak to both groups from “frequent visitor” check-in kiosks to the more comprehensive registration area. Additionally, the designs of many pediatric facilities are being redone to appeal across all ages and generations of visitors and guests. While kid prevalent, the facility has to be more than just a kid’s environment – a tricky but important balance to strike.

Branding Opportunity: Consider wrapping the welcoming hugs in a “brand messaging environment” such as videos and music to set the brand tone when patients enter your facility. Prepare brand scripts for the receptionists and staff to use that pull the brand experience into one-on-one interactions.

Children’s hospitals require special attention to deal with the special needs of their young patients and families. Does your pediatric facility infuse your brand into the onsite patient experience? We would welcome to hear more about the way your brand is delivering on your promise for the children and families through facility design and innovation.

Your Hospital Brand and the Care-Giving Conundrum

With many Americans living longer lives, the issue of costly long-term care for loved ones is real and more daunting than ever. You would suspect that the majority of the responsibility falls to the Boomers and you would be correct. However, a formidable percentage of Millennials has had to step up, too. In fact, over 25% of those providing care for their parents are between 18 and 34 years old, according to the AARP Policy Institute. With over 40 million of Americans claiming to be caregivers in 2013, the likelihood for additional Millennials playing this role moving forward is a given. Read more

Integrating Digital Design in Health Care

Creating integrated designs across traditional and digital media can be daunting for hospitals and health systems that are battling marketing budget cuts, lack of centralized resources, or even lack of resources at all. Here's a tutorial on how to tackle this common challenge.

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