One result of the COVID-19 pandemic is the significant spike in virtual care, and it may be here to stay. Virtual care allows patients to access medical care from the safety of their own homes.
In March 2020 alone, telehealth visits skyrocketed 50%. What’s more, thanks to coronavirus, two-thirds of adults say they would be more open to trying virtual care — and nearly 100% of healthcare systems intend to expand their virtual offerings.
As healthcare systems are making plans to grow their virtual care offerings, they’re looking to those who have done so successfully. In this interview, CEO of CareContent, Kadesha Thomas Smith, and Founder of Creative CoStrat Lab, Camille Strickland, talk with Dr. Anthony Perry, MD, Vice President of Ambulatory Transformation at Rush University Medical Center on how they expanded their virtual care to offer patients a seamless — and helpful — experience.
Watch: “Rush University Medical Center’s Virtual Care Expansion”
Watch below or view on YouTube.
Part 1: Can Virtual Care Grow Patient Volume?
Part 2: Planning A Friction-Free Experience
Part 3: The Virtual Care Menu Of Options
Part 4: Surprises For Video Visit First-Timers
Part 5: Promoting Virtual Offerings
Part 6: Getting Virtual Care Reimbursed
Part 7: Questions To Ask Before Launch
Part 8: Is Quality Of Care Still Good?
Camile Strickland: Hi, I’m Camille Strickland. I am a healthcare and communications strategist. I’m located here in Chicago, Illinois. I’ve been doing this for about 17 years, helping health systems across the country of different sizes and types to differentiate themselves and position themselves for growth. I’m happy to be here today.
Kadesha Thomas Smith: Great, my name is Kadesha Smith. I am the founder and CEO of CareContent. We are a digital strategy and content agency that serves hospitals and other organizations in the healthcare industry. Today, we are here with Dr. Anthony Perry of Rush University Medical Center.
Dr. Anthony Perry: Hello, my name is Anthony Perry. I go by Tony. I am a physician, and geriatric medicine is actually my area of practice. I’ve been working here at Rush University Medical Center, actually, for 29 years now — since 1991. I’ve been working specifically in a role where I’m overseeing an entity we refer to as the ambulatory transformation center. We do things from delivery of buildings to digital programs, so we kind of say from bricks to clicks is kind of the scope we do on a regular basis. Thank you for having me.
Kadesha: Thank you. So, we’re here today to talk about virtual care and how that has grown and sort of exploded at Rush. I shared with you that I was very interested in speaking with you because I am a Rush patient. I was born at Rush, I have had two children at Rush, and I tested positive for COVID-19 at Rush. And a lot of the steps I took to get the test and understand what I needed to do to take care of myself occurred through virtual care that’s with my primary care provider at Rush Oak Park Hospital.
So, I would love for you to just share with our audience how Rush has deployed virtual care in what seems to be a very seamless way. Maybe behind the scenes, it’s a different story, but it seems to be very seamless on the consumer side. So, I’m gonna let Camille dive in with the first few questions just to understand how you guys have successfully been able to do this.
Camille: Yeah, absolutely. So, I think one of the first things I noticed as, you know, a resident of the market of Chicago was just how well you guys have marketed your virtual care program. And so, throughout COVID-19, not being outside much but definitely being online and looking at the ways you guys have pivoted to really talk about how you’re managing care virtually or at least helping to sway fears about COVID and things like that virtually. Because it’s been really fascinating and, like Kadesha had mentioned earlier, just such a best practice.
So, prior to COVID, what were your growth plans around virtual care, specifically for the facilities?
Dr. Perry: Yeah, thank you for the question. One of the things that helped us be successful in sort of the COVID pivot was that we really had an organized strategy that existed before COVID started. We had been working on a suite of tools that we refer to as on-demand. With this concept, these were programs that were supposed to be able to be available to people on-demand — to meet them on their terms at a time of day that worked for them, at a place that worked for them, because they connected digitally with them.
It was primarily a combination of asynchronous visits and synchronous, or video visits. Asynchronous were more in the category of somebody enters information into a portal, the patient goes to a provider, who then afterward reviews the information and sends a response back. And we had a program set up where people could complete visits for low acuity medical problems — little back pain, urinary tract infections, coughs and colds and so forth through that asynchronous platform. Actually, we’re on target to do about 3,000 of those visits in this year, pre-COVID.
In the fall, we had actually launched a video visit program, as well, so that people would have access to on-demand sort of raising their hands and putting themselves in a queue and getting placed in a video visit with a provider, again, for lower acuity types of things that they might want to immediately connect with a provider. This is much more of a transactional care kind of thing, not to replace the primary care provider, like you referred to, Kadesha, in the system. But really to supplement the care that’s available in the system to meet some of those simple — let’s get you connected, let’s get care to your right away on your terms, and let’s let you go about your day, kind of services.
That was a program that we had up and running, and we had done really close partnership with our marketing/communications folks on how we presented that to the public, how we communicated to them, how we integrated an app that our information technology team had built and had deployed over the past year and a half, which was sort of a wonderful, foundational piece in everything that we had there.
Kadesha: When did Rush — COVID-19 was not your impetus to start virtual care and on-demand care. When did this planning start, and when was it officially available in the market?
Dr. Perry: Yeah, you know the planning probably started, say, two and a half years ago. And those asynchronous visits that I referred to have been available for about the past year and a half as a resource that was available to the market, treating about sort of 15 to 18 different kinds of low acuity issues that people go online and get care for. We had been building to a video program, as well, to connect people with video visits, and that had really launched probably about September of last year.
Camille: Fantastic. As a part of that planning process, who were some of the folks that were a part of your team? Who was really in the room thinking through that process?
Dr. Perry: Yeah, you know, it was people in our ambulatory transformation center who were a part of it. It was sitting down together with our information technology folks who really were people who had said video and engagement with people as a primary issue for us had been leading the build of our Rush app and had been leading the build of infrastructure to support video care, as well.
And then, our marketing communications strategy folks were sort of the other leg of the tripod, if you will, really looking at this and thinking about how we presented to the public. So, on the one hand, we think all the time about the services that we present to our patients. But this was also really thinking about how can we connect with the broader consumer population and let them know that Rush is an extremely convenient place to connect to? As we connected to them, also let them know about all the different array of resources that are available through Rush, whether you need to see a primary care provider or you have other kinds of health issues. We have all sorts of ways to connect you and all sorts of locations to get you care.
Kadesha: When you guys were doing this planning, can you describe what you were hoping would be the ideal experience? What would be the ideal flow of a patient initiating a virtual care visit going through to getting treatment or getting it resolved?
Dr. Perry: As we had this conversation, the perspective was always we wanted this experience to be a very friction-free experience from a patient’s perspective as they were going through this. That runs into all sorts of bumps along the way in the healthcare environment because, our environment, oftentimes for very good reasons — maybe not always for very good reasons — but often for very good reasons, we have friction in our environment. We’re very careful with patient information — that’s a regular thing for us and there are very good reasons why we do that. And it’s something that sort of competes with the “Let’s get you quick, easy access,” — that sort of stuff. So, that’s a piece that’s always a piece we’re working on. What’s the way to be very thoughtful about giving people access that works for them, so they get connected to care?
Time matters in this, right? We want to be able to get people care quickly. From the very beginning, we set targets about care. We talked about those asynchronous visits. There are visits where a patient will go in and, if they said they wanted to do a visit for a cough, they would answer a series of about 40 questions that have to do with a cough. Some of them might ask about a fever, and if they have a fever over a certain level, we tell them, it’s probably not for you to be getting virtual care right now, but we can get you connected to an in-person visit.
As they go through those questions there, they answer them and those all go to a provider. We set a standard that said, our goal is that patient has a response back in their inbox within 20 minutes. We sort of created a service standard to the public of an hour, but we said our internal standard is we want you to be surprised and get it back in 20 minutes and have a really neat experience.
That timeliness — much more so than even how pretty the site is and the information is — for us, was a real hallmark of what we were trying to drive on. Not that we didn’t try to make it pretty and look good and present well, as well, but that timeliness, from a consumer’s perspective, we felt was really key to what we were doing.
Kadesha: You know, I’m so glad you admitted that because I didn’t know if I could say that on camera, but when I called to be tested for COVID-19, they said, “Oh it’s going to take a couple of days to get the results,” and I understand that’s the communication to the public. But it was actually the same day.
Dr. Perry: Yeah, that’s terrific.
Kadesha: I think that’s sort of, “Okay, we’re gonna tell her this, just to set expectations, but really we know we can do this same day.” And I really appreciated that because it was Friday so I didn’t know what it was going to be like for the weekend.
Dr. Perry: You didn’t know whether 1 or 2 days meant Saturday and Sunday or Monday and Tuesday, right?
Kadesha: Right, exactly. But they were like, “Pull over, we’ll be back in 30 minutes.” And one comment about creating a friction-free experience — I think the best gauge for my family of knowing that you guys had done that successfully is that I am actually no longer the primary healthcare decision maker in my household. My husband does it because it’s very easy for him to use the app, it’s very easy for him to log onto the video. He’s actually the one that got my primary care physician on the video visit for me to describe my symptoms. So, kudos for that.
Dr. Perry: Yeah, for sure. There’s complexity in there in trying to make an easy way for you to get access to providers. At the same time, we’re very protective of the fact that it’s connected to your healthcare information, right? So, we have to manage through those two dynamics on a regular basis. One of the things is, in this environment, in some ways, it’s an advantage for healthcare systems but in other ways, it’s a disadvantage for healthcare systems.
If we didn’t have any of your healthcare information, in some ways, we could maybe even more easily connect to you because we wouldn’t be so worried about being very protective of that patient information.
Camille: To that end, as you talk about the various ways that you can connect with folks virtually to provide care of any kind, can you talk a little bit about the consideration for you guys that went into video visits versus we saw a lot of chatbots being set up during this time versus social media? What are you seeing as most effective, perhaps? Is it a combination of everything, or do you see that one, right now in this period of time, is really delivering in terms of helping identify folks?
Dr. Perry: Yeah, I think you hit on two points there that are really good points. So, one is — I really do think it’s about having a suite of services. You want to have different types of services that meet the demands of different things because we can do wonderfully fast things with chatbots — we really can. But there are other things we can’t do with them. So, if we let them run in their space and do those types of things that they can turn around really quickly and give you not a 20-minute experience but give you a 20-second experience where you get access to get information — that can be really beneficial.
At the same time, on the flip side, when all this coronavirus stuff was really ramping up in Cook County for us, we actually took the cough and cold reason for visiting our asynchronous tool, and we turned it off because we wanted to actually funnel it all to video. This is because we thought the nuance of it, the complexity of it, the rate at which it was changing from the perspective of guidelines from federal and state and county health authorities and timelines for turning it around and locations of testing — it was a little bit too fast for us to handle through a chatbot or through an asynchronous tool.
We needed to just get the information to our providers and let them talk to people, and be able to manage through that. I really do think it’s different tools for different scenarios. In this case, we really leaned on the video because we thought that in-person, eye-to-eye kind of experience really helped a ton.
Kadesha: Let’s shift to talking about other health systems who may be embarking on this for the first time in an environment where they really don’t have the luxury of doing two and a half years of planning. They are trying to serve their communities as best they can through virtual care, and would really benefit from your insight having done this for a while.
What would you say surprises senior leaders and those people you described on your team — what surprises them the most when they’re planning and trying to deploy a virtual care model?
Dr. Perry: I think there’s probably a handful of things that fit in there. I think in the clinical operations environment, I think one thing people don’t realize right off the bat is that just accomplishing a video visit is sort of an entire workload. You don’t just connect a patient and provider to a visit, but some patients need assistance in getting connected to tools or downloading information on their smartphone or how to log into a system and so forth.
On the provider end, some providers benefit greatly from kind of a workflow that not only provides a patient assistance in getting access to it, but connects somebody with the patient to prep the patient. And make sure that we have the patient, good, set up, and ready to go. We have the provider good, set up, and ready to go. We have a match, now, let’s put you together.
So, it’s kind of a whole workflow that accomplishes a single video visit. You really need to be mindful of that entire workflow if you want to be successful in doing not just one but a whole series of video visits for people, as well.
The other thing is, I think it depends on where you are in the system. When we were running for the past year and a half, what we were crafting was a self-pay, cash business kind of thing. We said, okay, we’ll just allow somebody to say I want to pay $30 for the experience of an asynchronous visit and have an answer in 20 minutes. I may have spent $30, but I’m thrilled by the experience. In that model, part of what pushes it — that has to be a really efficient model. If we want to deliver care for $30, we have to be really mindful of — how do we frame this so that the provider time and the provider end is really efficient, so they can actually do this pretty quickly. So, from a $30 perspective, it works for the system.
The marketplace here, that we really need to be respectful of, really also demands efficiency in how we think about delivering these tools. If we’re really — you guys are on the consumer end and marketing end of things — if we really think about that end of things, we have to be pretty mindful of how that all works out. We can’t just think sometimes the way we do in a traditional healthcare structure, which is a little different.
Camille: That makes a lot of sense. To your point, you’re talking about the fact that this is not just you connect a physician and a patient. There’s an entire process that goes into this. What are some of the milestones that we need to be looking at in order to onboard and prepare physicians to deliver care virtually?
Dr. Perry: I think one of the milestones is actually getting them to do one. There’s a milestone in, as a doctor myself, you tend to think a little bit of your traditional way of providing care. A patient comes into the office, I sit down with them, we talk, we’re face to face, I examine the patient — we do work together in that way. That’s a very important process and a very important way for care to happen.
But, once you get a little bit of experience, you start to sort of open up your mind a little bit and say, wait a minute, there’s actually a lot of stuff I can do, whereas before maybe you were thinking about the things you can’t do when you do a video visit. You start to think about the things you can do when you do that.
You can create a connection with the patient that’s different than talking to them on the telephone — when you can see somebody’s expression, especially when you’re dealing with clinical things. You can see somebody’s expression and tell if they’re in pain, and you can get a sense of their suffering much more strongly than you can over the telephone. And you can interact and you can see how somebody responds to something that you might say to them. You can see if something you might say to them sort of created anxiety for them from their response — the way we can in an outpatient office where we’re sitting down and talking with people.
Once you sort of do one, you start to see what you can do — and I think that opens up the realm of possibility, which is a piece that’s really exciting for us when we look at this. For a lot of people in this world, with COVID, we have a whole lot of providers who have never done a video visit before who now have touched it. In some ways, their minds are being opened up to say, “No, wait — I get it.”
As with anything, there’s a spectrum. Some of those providers who are doing those visits were people who already did video calls and were already in that world and kind of already got it. Some of them were people who had never done a video encounter of any sign — medical or social — at all. They’re getting open up to, “Well, wait a minute, I really do get nice video, and we have a nice infrastructure. I really do have a sense of conversation together with the patient when we’re doing that,” So that, to me, is the biggest hurdle — getting people started really then opens up the realm of possibilities.
Kadesha: Unless, of course, you’re like my primary care provider, who I’ve been with for, I don’t know, a ridiculous amount of years at this point. During our video visit, she was like, “I know the worst thing about this is that you can’t go to the gym — I know, I get it.” She just intuitively knew that was probably the worst thing about this whole ordeal for me. You have that rapport already built up, and you have that relationship already built up.
Dr. Perry: Absolutely. Right, so, when we talk about even our on-demand care — that’s very transactional where we’re treating you for something, and we say hello, we interact with each other. We create a good response to it, and then we each go on our way, right? That is not a replacement for a primary care doctor. It’s really another component of the healthcare system that can be a beneficial thing, but there’s tons of value to that primary care doctor who knows you. Taking that relationship and enabling that relationship with video is a whole additional piece of this that is very multifaceted in some really neat ways.
Kadesha: So, you get your provider to say, “Okay, I’ll give it a try. I’ll do one.” They’re enlightened to how great of an experience it could be. But then you have some health systems and hospitals that are trying to put virtual care in the market, and they’re just getting very low uptake. They’re not getting the adoption that they would like. Do you have any advice for them on how they can help their market embrace it a bit more, or how they can promote it better and what worked for Rush?
Dr. Perry: Yeah, I think it’s a bit of a journey — or it was. One of the things that’s amazing about the world of the COVID response is that we’ve done things in days that would have taken us months, 6 months, 9 months at a time to do to really respond to what was going on because it was such a dynamic environment.
In a normal world, it was kind of a process to really get this out there and really build it up. For the asynchronous visits, we were on a path pre-COIVD to do about 3,000 visits this year. But, it wasn’t — turn it on, and all of a sudden, there are 3,000 visits. It was — turn it on and get the experience with it. How can we learn with what we were doing on there? How can we get feedback from patients very quickly about how we’re doing this? We stood up doing NPS (Net Promoter Score) scoring with those patients after they did visits to get really immediate feedback from people as we were going through this.
So, it’s a process, and I truly think the consumer market is going to adopt tools that work for them. They’re not going to adopt tools that don’t. Working for them means easy access, means multi-channel, means very timely, means different solutions for different points in time, kind of need. It really requires having a focus of thinking of that consumer as opposed to a thinking that really doesn’t have that consumer focus and just thinks, “Patients will come to us the way they normally do.”
Camille: Another thing that I think, much like consumer adoption, is going to vary from market to market, another thing that will vary is the relationship that every system has with the health plans in their areas. I know that that is unique to markets, but are there any general sort of pitfalls or landmines that you think all systems should be thinking about as they think through delivering care virtually and the relationships that they have with their plan? There is a lot of new legislation even through COVID that’s come through around how hospitals and systems are paid for this kind of care, so can you talk a little bit about that?
Dr. Perry: Yeah, that even ties directly into our sort of COVID story on this. We had had our asynchronous visit platform and then our video visit platform, and it was really going around a couple of visits a day — it was not doing a lot of visits in the video world. When coronavirus hit, we had that platform that had a paywall associated with it, and as soon as coronavirus hit, we said well, this is a public health topic, this is a bigger public health topic than our program or our paywall or what have you.
So, what we did was, we took that down. And we put the video out there for people with what we called concern for coronavirus to be able to let them connect with us with no paywall associated with it. It was more — this is public health, we’ve got to get people connected to good information and good services because you could palpably see the anxiety on people when you connected with them by video in this world.
Kadesha, you went through that whole emotional feeling, right? Of being diagnosed with coronavirus when you were going through this. And when we were first doing this — especially in the early days — you could just see the amount of anxiety that existed on people. At one point in time, the governor actually here in Illinois required insurance coverage for video visits. When that happened, we then stood out the ability to use people’s insurance. So, we created a path for people to get to care if they didn’t have insurance but allowed them to use the insurance for the program. And then started creating an insurance-based business, if you will, out of that.
A big unknown for us is what the future of that is going to be, right? We truly just don’t know sitting here right now. So, we’re kind of creating scenarios that are working to be ready for whatever situation happens. If the general insurance coverage diminishes dramatically, if it doesn’t and it stays, if it stays partially — we’re trying to plot out of the scenarios.
One thing we feel confident in is that an awful lot of the public who had never been introduced to a sort of on-demand kind of video care, now has been. And they’re going to look for it in the environment more so than they did before, which is a really neat piece of this because we truly believe that the consumer is going to drive a ton of this. They’ll determine what people should be responding with by their behaviors. So, I think there’s a lot of unknown as to what exactly the future is from the payer perspective.
Our path internally had been, what we were building was a cash-based business. It was $30 for an asynchronous visit, $49 for a video visit and we’re good to go. We were actually working and we were in the middle of preparation for our first insurance plan to come online and provide coverage for it. It was going to be our insurance plan that covers our employees, so we were going to get about 19,000 people who got access to these video visits through their insurance plan. And it was intended to be sort of the first step in stepping into the insurance world with this.
I do think that’s a good spot for people to look when they’re thinking about building programs is always remembering that health centers typically have a large population of people for whom they self-insure. So, they’re really vested in the cost of care for those people, and video care is a great way to provide good service and provide very cost-effective service to people. So, that was going to be our first step into the insurance world. It was supposed to be April 1, and the coronavirus outbreak in Illinois hit before then, so it all got expanded before April 1, anyway.
Kadesha: What questions do you think more healthcare leaders should be asking before they deploy any kind of video visit or virtual care model?
Dr. Perry: I think a first question is what problem they’re trying to solve. It’s a different tool if we said, in the context of your primary care provider, Rush Oak Park Hospital, we are going to roll out video visits as a tool that exists for that practice. That’s a little bit of a different shape and size and structure than when we said, we’re going to roll out video visits for the broader consumer public, and we’re going to work on opening up something that anybody all across Illinois can connect with.
So, I think the key thing is — what are you trying to solve? Is it that you want to be something that is in the marketplace connecting with people and creating connections as initial connections with people? Is it that you want to bolster the structure of your practices that you already have? They’re certainly two related things, but they are different. We have two different applications in that world — both using the same infrastructure and the same underpinnings that our information technology people set up for us, but applying them in different ways with different workflows around them, and so forth.
Camille: I do have one question. Because I think it will come up for marketers eventually as we think about expansion of virtual care over time, is any concern from consumers about — does the quality of my care diminish in any way because now I’m primarily talking to my physician in certain circumstances via video or virtually? Any advice on how to address that? Are you seeing that already as a concern at all?
Dr. Perry: I think we do hear it as a concern from people — we hear it as a concern internally from our own providers, right? I think the answer lies in the fact that it’s not trying to compare itself to and compete with — it’s trying to be different than. There is different functionality that you can do on a video visit than you can do in an in-person office. Think about this — think about the potential scenario where you have some sort of an outbreak in the community where people have something that’s very contagious through their coughing and through their breathing. That’s our COVID scenario. And the ability to create a connection with that person in their home, talk to them, create a conversation, and create a plan with them in their home is actually, from a quality perspective, in some ways, significantly better than having them come down to my office and walk into my office and sit in a waiting room. And then come into the office and see me.
There are scenarios where the telemedicine visit is superior from a quality perspective than what we do in person. Vice-versa, too, there are a lot of scenarios where in-person does things and things can happen in there that we just can’t do on a telemedicine visit.
I think the key is that they’re different tools for different applications. We talked all the time as we first started doing this, to be able to triage people and be able to provide care for them in-home, exactly in this scenario of coronavirus, was a wonderful thing to be able to do — not just from a convenience perspective, but from a safety perspective. You kept those people in their homes, they weren’t sitting in a waiting room. That person could have had coronavirus, or it could have been the opposite — that person could have not had coronavirus, and they could have sat in the waiting room with two other people who did have coronavirus. So, as we went through this, this was a great way to get care at the right place, at the right time, to those people.
But it isn’t always the answer. There are times when it isn’t the best way to give people care, the right place, or the right time. And that’s where, sometimes, we clearly have things where we have some protocol set up where we’ll say to somebody, “You know what, doing this over video or doing this asynchronously isn’t the right application for you. We can get you connected, though.” And that’s where we talked about a whole suite of services or what a healthcare system can do in this. The advantage a healthcare system can do, we can say, “We can connect you with somebody, and we have people right in Oak Park who might be able to connect with you. And we can get you in there this afternoon or tomorrow or something like that.” We have an opportunity to do that with a whole continuum of services that can make sure it’s the right tool at the right time for the right situation.
Kadesha: Well, that’s good to know because as allergy season rages, I am not interested in sitting in anybody’s waiting room. I already told my primary care provider, “This is how we’re going to be doing it unless we have to do it otherwise.” Thank you so much for your time, thank you for sharing your insight, and thank you for being a leader in this market — especially in a hotspot like Chicago.
Dr. Perry: It’s a pleasure. And thank you, both, for your engagement in this topic and for the work that you guys do. I really think you’re in a spot where that intersection between the consumer and healthcare is just a really interesting spot. Where there’s so much that we on the healthcare side can do to make sure we create really good connections to people that really work for them. Technology is just one of the big ways where we can get a lot better — we have gotten a lot better — very fast.
Camille: Absolutely. Thank you!
Is your healthcare organization looking to implement virtual care? We can help you with your communications strategy.
The COVID-19 pandemic is synonymous with “change.” Across the world, we’ve changed how we work and socialize, and how many rolls of toilet paper we add to our grocery lists. And in the world of healthcare content marketing, we have not been spared from change.
So, how exactly have healthcare organizations made changes to digital strategy during COVID-19?
On April 30th, I co-hosted How Healthcare Organizations Pivoted on Digital Strategy During COVID-19, a webinar with 50 participants and four digital marketing experts who shared their insight with the Chicago Content Strategy Meetup about how COVID-19 has challenged their teams to pivot, experiment, and learn new ways to reach their audiences.
Chris Hester, Content Strategy Consultant
Jen O’Brien, Content Strategy Consultant
Kadesha Thomas Smith, Founder/CEO, CareContent
Stephanie Heying Bach
Watch: “How Healthcare Organizations Pivoted on Digital Strategy During COVID-19″
Watch below or view on YouTube.
Part 1: A Day in the Life
Part 2: Lessons Learned
Part 3: Successful Tactics
Part 4: Life After COVID-19
Part 5: Content Strategists
Is your healthcare organization looking for help with content strategy after COVID-19? Contact us to set up an intro call and learn more.
Part 2: Interview With Jessica Levco: How Healthcare Systems Can Approach COVID-19 Content Marketing
Jessica Levco — healthcare journalist and content marketer — and I recently chatted about how important it is for healthcare marketing teams to communicate COVID-19 information as effectively as possible. This is part two of our discussion, but you can check out Part 1 here if you missed it.
Kadesha: What are you seeing resonate well with the users of health system websites? What are they clicking on, what are they commenting on, what are they sharing?
Jessica: People are really appreciating information that is easy to read, not overwhelming, and not scary. People want to know about visitor updates and guidelines. People want to know what the hospital is doing to prepare.
Here’s another example — Michigan Medicine. What I like about their website is that they have really straightforward news. It’s a bunch of press releases that say what’s happening, and they keep it pretty updated.
We all have those blogs that we’ve talked about from Cleveland Healthy to IU, which apply to patients. But at a time like this, it’s also nice to just have real, hard facts, such as this is how many people we’ve treated, and this is what we’re going to do.
Kadesha: I’ve seen some hospitals shy away from that. Some hospitals are comfortable publishing how many people have tested positive, how many people they’ve treated, how many of their providers have also tested positive. You also have some hospitals, where if they’re not putting it out there, their local news is.
Should hospitals be comfortable publishing those numbers?
Jessica: That’s a good question, and I think you could really go either way. You don’t want to hide — you don’t want to say that this isn’t happening. And people will eventually find out the numbers. If you don’t share the news, somebody else will.
As a hospital marketer, it’s a great opportunity for you to say, “This is exactly what is happening, and here’s what’s going on”. At a time like this, people are really hungry for facts and clear information.
Hospitals had a great reputation as being a source of news going into COVID-19. Now more than ever, they should highlight that even more.
Kadesha: I think you’re right, and I sincerely hope hospitals and health systems look at this as more than just a crisis but also an opportunity to really be a resource for their service area and their audiences.
We don’t want to seem opportunistic and use this as a time to shine. That shouldn’t be the motivation. But I think there’s definitely a hunger now more than ever for people to hear from their hospital. This is not just an attempt to put out something that people will only share — they actually will read it and engage with it. They’re waiting on it. Give your service area the information and insight that they want to hear specifically from you.
Jessica: Yes, and if your hospital CEO is already on Twitter, now would be a great time to start ghostwriting some tweets. I know now a lot of hospitals are doing town halls and they’re taping those, especially for their remote employees. This might be a great opportunity to start taping some of your town halls. It wouldn’t have to be the whole thing but maybe just determine that for the first 10 minutes of this town hall, we’re going to make this for the public.
Kadesha: Any other tips for health systems and hospitals that are looking to use content marketing to educate their audiences about this?
Jessica: Since they aren’t doing elective surgeries, now would be a great time to do any kind of highlights you can on your telehealth services. Maybe if you write a blog about stress levels, you put at the end, “We know this is a difficult time. If you need somebody to talk to, click here.”
It’s also really important for marketers to start tracking how many visits they’re getting through telehealth and through their content marketing efforts. In terms of any kind of cuts marketing departments might have to face, they can prove, because of this content, we’ve booked 15 new appointments through telehealth.
There are also a lot of people who have scheduled their bariatric surgeries, joint replacements — you don’t want to forget about those people or make them feel like since COVID-19 happened, I’m not going to get the surgery I wanted. It would be very depressing if you were a patient who was preparing to have this kind of surgery and then you don’t hear anything from the hospital. Nobody calls you, you can’t call them because the lines are too busy, and you’re just left waiting where you don’t know what to do. It would be really nice if you could do any kind of outreach to those patients.
Eventually, things will come to a new normal, and patients will still need their surgeries. You want to let them know that you are still thinking of them and you haven’t forgotten.
Kadesha: I also wanted to touch on some of the cuts, the furloughs, and all of these other ways that hospitals are trying to contain costs — understandably so. Have any of the hospitals and health systems that you’re in contact with had marketing cuts happen?
Jessica: As far as I know, everyone I know is still okay.
Kadesha: Wow, that’s excellent. We’ve definitely had clients have spending freezes and be requested to take pay cuts. I’m really amazed at how they’re still staying motivated — you still see them pushing out new content despite all that.
Jessica: It’s heartbreaking when the marketing department gets cut. Even though digital marketing teams are not on the frontlines giving actual care, they are on the frontlines of giving information.
Kadesha: And I think this is another opportunity to prove that value. This is your time to say, as the marketing team, we can keep the call volume down if we’re able to communicate properly. They can really show how they can be supporters of those front line workers and not add more of a burden to the system.
Jessica: Now is the time more than ever to literally track everything you’re doing and send it into somebody every week. Say, “Here’s what the marketing team is doing, and here are our numbers.” When cuts happen, I always feel like it’s marketing and communications teams, but you kind of have to toot your own horn and say, “If you cut us, this is what you’re going to lose.”
When cuts or furloughs happen, you don’t want to burn out your employees who are left behind. You’ve got to figure out ways to keep the workload manageable. It really is not fair if somebody gets cut, and the person who is left behind has two times the work. I think there would have to be some real talks with somebody in C-suite saying, “If this is going to happen, we won’t have X, Y, and Z.”
Kadesha: Exactly. It sounds like that’s a conversation, then, about priorities. If we’re going to cut the team, then we also need to cut the work volume. That means prioritizing what is the most important and what is the most effective.
And you’re absolutely right — if you’re tracking, you can answer that question easily. If you’re not, then you really need to look at what the most effective way is that you can serve the community and serve the healthcare system right now. Test it, see if it works, and if not, stop doing it. Like seriously, if your healthcare marketing team launched a podcast or e-newsletter in the last month, but it’s not getting any traffic, either tweak it or retire it. I think there’s definitely a habit in marketing teams of keeping things going that aren’t effective, but we don’t have the bandwidth or the time for that anymore.
Jessica: No, those days are over. So many days we used to know are over.
Kadesha: So many, but I’m looking forward to seeing how this changes things. I do think it’s going to be more positive changes than anything.
Jessica: Yeah, I agree. I think healthcare marketing will be different — in a good way.
If you’re looking to improve your COVID-19-related content marketing, we can help.
I’m sitting in a drive-through, and they said I would need to wait just a little longer. No, I’m not waiting on my morning coffee or a sandwich — I’m waiting for results from my COVID-19 test.
As I sit here, I recognize that most hospitals are doing the absolute best they can. But this is still an opportunity to make the patient experience smoother. By now, all hospitals have something on their website for patients who want to be tested.
This page will make people either love you or hate you. It’ll definitely be the latter if your information about testing is buried among a brain dump of other content about COVID-19.
Why Is Your COVID-19 Testing Page So Critical?
To avoid unnecessary phone calls and emails: Patients should not have to waste time asking for information that should be easy to find on your website.
To keep people updated: The availability of tests, the quality of the test, and the timeliness of results should all clearly be communicated in real-time.
Here are 5 key ingredients for a COVID-19 testing page.
1. It’s high and mighty on the website.
If I have to search beyond one click, I’m annoyed. Why? Because I have a fever. I’m coughing. I’m short of breath, and my joints ache. Plus, these kids are still demanding my attention. I need this information quickly, and I don’t have time for a clunky experience.
The page about getting a COVID-19 test should be:
- A separate page — I don’t want to have to scroll through all your other content for it
- Accessible from the home page, like in your utility or primary navigation, and all your social media
- A URL that’s easy to remember, like www.hospital.com/covid-19-test. Put that on your phone tree intro, your app, radio ads, and wherever else it’ll fit
2. It contains easy-to-find information for scheduling a COVID-19 test.
As soon as a patient clicks on the designated COVID-19 testing page, they should find clear information about scheduling. This process varies from hospital to hospital, and it’s important to eliminate the guessing game.
To start, use visual elements to compel the reader’s eyes to critical information, such as who is eligible for a test.
In addition, prepare patients with the following scheduling information:
- An easily-identifiable phone number that’s hyperlinked since I’m probably on my phone.
- Phone tree instructions. If patients need to press option #1 to schedule a test, put that on the web page. I don’t want to listen to your 5-minute phone tree, even if your options have recently changed.
- Expected wait times. If you’re scheduling people the same day, put that on the page. If it’s two or three days for a test, put that, too. I don’t want to go through the whole scheduling and triage process only to find out I’ll be waiting longer than expected for a test. Plus, it’s amazing how much more receptive people are when you give them a heads up.
- What information they’ll need to have available, such as birth date, address, insurance information, and even car information for drive-through testing. Remember, some people might be calling for a loved one. They’ll need to gather this information ahead of time so they’re not scrambling for it on the phone.
- Testing location, including drive-through services or clinic locations, and maybe even a picture of the entrance.
Every bit of frustration you can take out of this experience is helpful.
3. It explains what to expect during a COVID-19 testing appointment.
Let patients know exactly what will happen at their appointment.
To begin, don’t assume patients know how they should show up for COVID-19 testing:
- Do they need to be wearing a mask or gloves?
- Should they come alone, or is it okay if they bring someone with?
- Should they have their insurance card with them?
- Are you doing nasal swabs? How long does it take and will it hurt?
Set all of these expectations up front.
4. It provides information about COVID-19 test results — and what patients should do with them.
Patients will, understandably, be anxious about their results. Explain your hospital’s process for reporting results so they know what to expect — and when:
- Do you do same-day results, or is it going to take 3 days?
- What should patients do — and not do — while waiting? Do they need to act like they have COVID-19 until they know for sure?
Put this info on your testing page, so the patient or their caregiver can refer to it. With this fever, I won’t remember.
Finally, be clear about what their results mean. What requires strict quarantine? When are they able to go back to their normal social distancing routine? What is the difference between quarantine and isolation? This information is exactly how we stop the spread.
5. It includes information found on any COVID-19-related print materials you provide to your patients.
After COVID-19 testing, many hospitals are providing patients with a print out about their next steps. This is only helpful for about 5 minutes.
My kids—who are home all day—are going to destroy this piece of paper.
Also, if there is information that a loved one needs to know, a COVID-19 positive patient shouldn’t be handing pieces of paper around. That just put someone else at risk.
The information on the printout and the website should be verbatim on the website. If the hard copy says to stay home for 14 days, but the website says 7, I’m confused. I really don’t need this kind of confusion right now.
There is enough uncertainty regarding COVID-19 at the moment. If a patient suspects they may have COVID-19, they shouldn’t need to search to find the information they need to get tested. Your hospital’s website is either helping or not.
Learn how to create content for your hospital’s website during a crisis.
Looking for other ways to ensure your hospital’s website is up to par regarding COVID-19 information and beyond? We can help.
You look to the left and you see a pile of dishes that needs cleaning. You look to the right and you see a pile of laundry that needs folding. You get a little hungry, and your refrigerator is just a few steps away.
At home, there are a number of distractions you face. Add your professional life into the mix, and things are sure to get complicated.
Working from home — especially if it’s your first time — can be extremely daunting. You may also be trying to homeschool your kids, care for your aging parents, or coexist with your spouse (who may also be working from home) — all while trying to manage your workday.
Minor things can become rabbit holes that turn a 5-minute task into an hour-long one, and before you know it, your day is gone. Plus, let’s face it — you’re probably not getting a full 8-hour workday when your kids, your spouse, your parents, and your dog are taking up your time.
Working from home requires focus. You need to have a tried-and-true approach to going head down and tuning out all of those other things that may be calling for your attention — and that can be challenging without structure.
In order to be successful, focus on what can realistically be accomplished and have a plan for each day. Here’s how to make that happen.
The Importance Of A To-Do List
I used to just braindump all of the tasks I needed to finish into a typical list format, but I (thankfully) no longer use that to guide my daily tasks. Trust me when I say that you will benefit from structure and grouping than a slew of to-dos.
A randomly thrown-together to-do list doesn’t group tasks that require similar brain activity. And by using one, you can end up feeling very scatter-brained when you bounce from one task to another when those tasks require different modes of thinking.
For instance, if you need to plow through emails, plow through emails. It’s not usually productive to shift from emails to invoices to a team meeting then back to emails.
The original idea for this organized to-do list came from my colleague, VP, Client Strategy, Rebecca Steurer. She’s a planner (that’s why she’s the strategist on our team). She came up with an original draft that, when I looked at it, immediately changed my life.
She grouped her tasks into similar categories on one sheet of paper, and magically, it made my day look doable. It made all of my mountain of things to get done look like they could be accomplished.
I’ve since modified it for people in an administrative role where you have such a mixture of things to do every day. You just need structure to move through that mixture.
Also, I’ve included categories that are more personal. It’s important not to forget your personal goals because let’s face it, those don’t stop just because you have a mountain of work tasks to get done. You still need to stay on top of your health, you still need to eat, you still need to have positivity to keep you grounded.
So, without further ado, here’s the template for the best to-do list geared towards healthcare professionals.
Looking for ways to increase productivity at work? We can help! Contact CareContent to let us take the education piece off your plate.
Solomon was right. There really is nothing new under the sun. Back in the 1930s, families spent time together by sitting around this cool new thingamajig called a radio listening to comedians, news, even soap operas.
Then, technology advanced to televisions, computers, and now tablets and smartphones. But our love affair with listening has come full circle. Except today, it isn’t called radio. It’s called podcasts.
Podcasts have taken off over the last 10+ years. Hospitals, patient medical foundations, professional medical associations, and healthcare organizations should take notice.
Ten years ago, 1 in 10 people over age 12 had listened to a podcast in the previous month. Today, it’s 1 in 3.
Podcasts are the digital medium of choice for young professionals.
Here are 4 reasons why a podcast might be the best tool for your hospital or medical foundation or professional association.
1. You have a niche audience or can speak to a niche interest.
If your podcast focuses on being general interest, you’re jumping in a wider pool of competition. Don’t be afraid to get laser-sharp with your target audience or topic area.
For example, my favorite podcast is called Kingdom-Driven Entrepreneur. It’s a podcast for Christian business owners who prioritize family and pursue business growth based on faith rather than working everyone to death. Super niche, I get it. Not everyone’s cup of tea, but it speaks to me directly, and I never miss an episode.
Rebecca Steurer, our VP of Client Strategy, is addicted to a podcast about Keto. She’ll literally listen to the whole hour-long episode. That’s because it’s speaking to something that’s relevant every time she eats.
Here’s something to think about:
- Who are the cliques within your larger audience? I’m talking about those folks who’d probably walk off together to do their own huddle while ignoring the larger group.
- What’s a pain point that your organization can speak to for these groups? I mean some challenge they are working to overcome every day.
This would mean targeting not just consumers, for example, but people who have a chronic condition while working full time. Not just physicians, but early-career physicians who are struggling with work-life balance and burnout.
2. You have experts with amazing personalities.
They’re funny, interesting, or super direct — and people love it. If you have experts with compelling personalities, your target audience needs to know them. And podcasts are an excellent introduction because ideally, your podcast episodes are conversations with these unique people. That will drive more people to your organization more than shiny awards or bragging on your gee-whiz offerings.
3. You’re targeting busy people.
Parents. Professionals. Pretty much anyone breathing is multi-tasking. I’m convinced that’s why podcasts have blowuptuated. They allow you to consume huge chunks of information while doing other things — driving, cooking, or those tedious tasks that require effort but not brainpower (like folding laundry or organizing papers).
Podcasts are the content format for people who need to be productive and still receive the insight, information, or instruction you have to offer.
4. You don’t have a huge budget.
Podcasts take the least amount of resources compared to other content marketing formats. Yes, there’s an investment in getting set up with a location and sound equipment. The heaviest lift is probably scheduling interviews. But after that, it’s recording a conversation or sharing thoughts and editing. The time, money, and effort to produce a podcast is far less than a written blog or video. You could literally start a podcast in the next two hours right now if you have a good voice recorder.
If podcasts sound like a content marketing format your hospital, medical foundation, or medical association would like to explore, reach out to me via email. I’ll share the steps to develop a podcast strategy and produce the first episode.
How you communicate is just as important as what you communicate—especially in healthcare.
Voice and tone are so often overlooked during the content creation process for healthcare web content, but they are key in distinguishing your brand and truly impacting your target audiences.
Maybe that’s why poor health literacy is such a huge issue in this country. Only 12% of US adults have what is considered a proficient level of health literacy, according to the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
In some areas of the country, 1 out of 2 people have a basic or below basic ability to comprehend health information, reports a study from University of North Carolina. This means that half of the population in these areas can read an appointment reminder and figure out when their next trip to the doctor is.
But filling out consent forms and insurance paperwork—or even understanding a pamphlet about healthcare services once they’re at the appointment—is tough.
At CareContent, we are all about increasing health literacy. And as a team of content specialists for healthcare, we advocate for patient-focused content to take a more conversational tone. Here are 4 reasons why.
1. A Casual Tone Helps Patients Understand Complex Information Better
When web content is narrated in a way that sounds like someone is talking, it helps patients understand the information better. The same goes for avoiding wonky language and acronyms. Ditto for cutting out long strings of sentences. When you break the information up and make it digestible, it becomes easier to understand.
This is part of our health literacy mission. If we want people to understand their diagnosis, their treatment, and their medical team, we have to talk at a level that they are comfortable with.
We don’t want people to have to read our client’s content with a dictionary next to them. We don’t them to have to ask the doctor, “What does that word even mean?”
For me, this mission is personal.
My son was recently diagnosed with mild autism. Even getting to that diagnosis required a lot of appointments with pediatricians, psychiatrists, psychologists, developmental and occupational therapists, social workers, and a lot of other specialists who work in early childhood development.
One of the common complaints I’ve heard from other moms in this same position is that these specialists talk to parents like they’re talking to each other. Some of them spew out acronyms and terminology like you graduated with their credentials.
This is an issue for two reasons:
- It’s a waste of everyone’s time. Why should I have to stop and ask you to explain what you just explained? If they break the information down well to begin with, this doubling back wouldn’t be needed.
- It creates more anxiety. A lot of these medical jargon-y words seem scarier and more alien than what they actually mean.
Explaining healthcare information to patients is not the time for the medical expert to display their intelligence. We already know you’re smart. When information is presented to patients in a formal, clinical, wonky voice, that creates questions instead of answering them. And that’s a problem.
2. Conversational Healthcare Web Content Is Better For Search
In addition to helping people understand the information, taking a more conversational tone can also help with search results. This is especially true with the rise of voice search using virtual assistants like Siri, Cortana, Alexa, etc.
Today, nearly 1 in 4 people with an Android device speak their search query versus typing it.
Voice searchers don’t say, “pediatric autism specialist Chicago.” Instead, they say, “Where is the nearest pediatric autism specialist?” or “I need an autism specialist for my toddler.”
To ensure that the search engine robots crawl your content and connect it with something a voice searcher might say, your content needs to match how people talk.
3. Healthcare Web Content Needs To Create Empathy
The third reason to take a more conversational tone for healthcare web content is that it creates a more personal connection with people when, as they’re reading the content, they feel as if they are talking to someone—as if they can hear the nurse or doctor’s voice as they’re reading.
This is a great tactic for organizations that are trying to personalize their providers’ voices online. Wording the information the same way they’d explain it to their patients humanizes them.
This humanization goes hand-in-hand with the fact that most people who are looking for healthcare information online are often in need of empathy. They want to know that they are not alone, that their concerns are being heard, and that they can get help.
Taking a more conversational tone goes a long way toward providing that comfort and empathy patients and caregivers need.
4. Voice And Tone Can Set Your Healthcare Web Content Apart
Refining a conversational voice and tone is one of the most underestimated ways to distinguish a brand. Lots of companies seek to distinguish their brands using fonts, colors, and logos. And while these are all elements to consider, voice is often left out.
This might seem like an inappropriate example for a healthcare setting, but, for instance, take the website Thug Kitchen [Warning: If you click this link, don’t be offended]. Thug Kitchen started as a recipe website that has grown into a vegan cooking empire with three bestselling cookbooks.
The recipes are good, but it’s their intrepid voice and tone that made them culinary stars: Their recipes are full of cuss words.
I remember looking up a recipe for homemade cranberry sauce for Thanksgiving one year, and their recipe popped up first in my search. The first line: “Put the f***ing can opener down.” I laughed the whole time as I went through this recipe.
Other companies like MailChimp and BuzzFeed have risen to become leaders in their market because of the way they say things.
These may not be healthcare brands, but those of us creating healthcare web content can borrow this principle. Using a conversational voice and tone makes your content memorable. And that, in turn, makes your organization memorable.
Are you ready for your healthcare web content to have a voice and tone makeover? Contact us to get started.
The start of a new year is a great time to take a moment and think about what we want to see happen next—not just in our personal lives, but in our professional lives and the industries we work in and for as well.
So, what do I want to see in healthcare digital marketing in 2018?
I really want to see healthcare become hyperfocused on patient and user experience, both online and offline. I want hospitals and medical practices to stop asking, “What do our doctors want—and what’s going to make us look smart?”
The question to ask instead is, “What do the patients want?” That answer is what should guide the next steps that healthcare digital marketing takes. And I think a key part of that answer lies in expanding ways that patients and providers can communicate with one another.
Embracing Patient-Friendly Communication In Healthcare Digital Marketing
I would really love to see healthcare embrace other ways of patient-provider communication.
For instance, I want to be able to email my provider. And when I say email my provider, I don’t mean through a patient portal. Patient portals are another user ID and password I have to memorize or find to do something as basic as emailing a question to my doctor. It’s just cumbersome.
There are plenty of ways to make this possible while still following HIPAA regulations.
I would love to see healthcare figure out a way for patients to connect with providers via email or even online chat. I have toddlers whose favorite toy is my phone. This means I don’t always have access to my phone.
In order to call a provider to schedule an appointment, I first have to find my phone. That can take more time than busy working parents or young professionals have available.
And I want to be able to connect with my provider on any device. So, if I’m sitting at my computer and need to connect with them, I want to be able to easily do that through email or chat. The same goes for my phone or tablet.
Who Benefits From Expanded Patient-Provider Communication?
The benefits of expanding the ways patients and providers can communicate aren’t one-sided in the patients’ favor. If patients could email their providers, this would give providers another way to share information.
We very much live in a digital world, so keeping patients engaged online is key to keeping them engaged offline, too.”
For instance, if multiple people are asking questions via email and providers are starting to see a pattern to those questions, that could mean it’s time to create web content around this topic to send out in an e-newsletter to patients.
This probably happens a lot seasonally—for example, during flu season. This year was a particularly devastating flu season, and I’m sure a lot of people have been calling their providers asking very similar questions.
It would be great if they could send those questions via online chat and the provider could respond with, “Here’s a podcast I just did about this exact topic.”
This keeps the connection between patients and providers going—and it keeps patients engaged with the hospital or practice online.
My hope for healthcare digital marketing in 2018 is that the patient experience takes center stage.
What do you want to see happen in the world of healthcare digital marketing this year? Contact us to see how we can help turn your organization’s resolutions into realities.
Thanksgiving is a time to reflect on what we’re grateful for in all areas of our lives—and healthcare digital marketing is no exception.
At CareContent, we’ve got lots of reasons to be grateful. Here’s what our team is thankful for in the worlds of healthcare, healthcare digital marketing, and technology.
The main thing I’m thankful for is this grand awakening in the healthcare digital marketing world that content should be the first priority. A long time ago, Andy Crestodina, co-founder and Chief Marketing Officer of Orbit Media Studios told me, “They’re not there yet, but in about 2 or 3 years they will be, and then you’ll be well-positioned to be a leader in this area.”
Now, I finally see that happening. Healthcare organizations are finally realizing that the key to having a strong web presence is making sure that the content is well organized, well produced, well promoted, and well analyzed.
This is great for us at CareContent because this shift is directly related to what we do and the approach that we think people should take.
Changing The Way We Approach Web Content Creation
Because of this shift in the world of healthcare digital marketing, I’m really grateful that CareContent has been able to start tackling enterprise-level content strategy and content creation projects for hospitals and other types of healthcare organizations.
It’s been a really exciting experience for us to tackle these projects. We’ve been able to create and plan content that meets our clients’ goals, meets their audience needs, and helps them feel like they can indeed get a handle on their website.
In the process, we’re showing them that web content creation and management doesn’t have to be this ad-hoc beast.
I think the biggest thing of all that I’m grateful for is having a team that is willing to take on this new approach and these new projects—and do an excellent job. They’re a very adaptable bunch, always willing to meet the client’s needs quickly and flexibly.
I’m thankful that augmented reality (AR) is evolving far beyond the cute critters in Pokemon Go. For example, the ARKit, unveiled for Apple’s iPhone 8 and iPhone X, will really make your everyday world “pop.”
Look through your iPhone or iPad’s camera, and you might see anything from a SpaceX rocket landing in your yard to career statistics overlaid on the heads of the pro basketball players you’re watching on TV, notes The Verge.
What does it mean for marketing? The chance to help viewers visualize everything from new home decor to the interior of a brand-new sports car. Watch for endless applications (and some app wars) in the future.
I am thankful for the shift we’ve made at CareContent from mostly blog creation to more of a focus on websites as a whole. To be honest, when Kadesha first put out the idea of making this change, I wasn’t sure what to think or expect.
I knew the learning curve would be steep and the climb could take a while, but I’m truly enjoying the journey because I’m learning so much each and every day. Yes, this is somewhat sappy to say. But it’s true.
I’ve been grateful that CareContent is spreading its wings beyond creating content, and moving toward creating the best places for our clients to showcase that content.
[Note: Sammi would also like to mention that because this is a Thanksgiving-themed post, the wings she mentions above are turkey wings.]
I am grateful that healthcare digital marketing is steering toward creating more personalized narratives.
With so many touchpoints out there to the consumer these days, healthcare institutions have a great opportunity—and, I think, a great responsibility—to speak directly to prospective patients and caregivers, and to show how they’re actually improving outcomes, not just winning awards (although that’s great, too).
I am grateful for the advancement of data technology. Analytics now supports almost every stage of the digital marketing process, from content creation to design. I am amazed at how fast it is spreading in the content world.
Analytics really deepens our understanding of audience’s preferences and helps deliver more relevant and valuable content to them. And it also changes how organizations think about the value of content and decide what content to produce.
Sometimes, this creative process becomes overly formulaic because of these quantitative measurements. But I am grateful that CareContent gives writers the liberty to be creative, even as our ideas are grounded in consumer insights. That’s what makes our approach unique and our content engaging.
As a mom of two young children, I love anything that makes life easier. I’m thankful for technology that makes it easy to communicate with physicians from home—from emailing to sending pictures of rashes to video chatting. It’s nice to have options before deciding to trek to the doctor’s office.
At CareContent, we’ve got lots to be thankful for. What are you thankful for this year in the world of healthcare digital marketing?
How do I feel about diversity? Simple: I think it’s critical for any healthcare marketing team that is responsible for communicating to consumer audiences.
This may sound like a sweeping statement, but there’s a reason for it. You don’t want to have any blind spots in what you communicate.
This means you need people looking at whatever you’re communicating—whether it’s website content, social media content, etc.—from all angles. This is especially important in the first stage of content development, which is generating ideas for a wide range of audiences.
It comes down to this: If you want to have a rich pool of ideas to appeal to a tapestry of target markets, you need people from all different types of backgrounds.
How Do You Define Diversity In The Workplace?
I think of diversity in several ways. There is the obvious way, which is cultural or ethnic diversity. Our cultures contribute to our worldviews, our beliefs, and our perception of reality.
In this industry, you don’t want to surround yourself with a bunch of carbon copies. That’s what creates the blind spots. The result? You could end up saying something ridiculous. It’s a simple matter to have someone on your team who says, “No, that will never fly with (Target Market A) because (X, Y, Z).”
It comes down to breaking outside your comfort zone, in two key ways: Surround yourself with people who are not like you, and invite them to challenge you.
This means being mature enough to have conversations with people who don’t think the way you do—and being mature enough to listen, even to viewpoints you disagree with.
This ability to listen and be listened to boosts your strength as a team, and it can make the ideas, products, and services you offer that much better.
Building A Diverse Healthcare Marketing Team
I love being around people who are not like me. And I love that our team is diverse in a lot of different ways: our political beliefs, our cultural backgrounds, our economic backgrounds, our ages.
And we don’t have to hold back or suppress our beliefs in the office just because we’re different.
This gives us agility in how we approach our work. When we approach clients with ideas and content strategies, they often comment on how they would never have thought to approach it the way we did—and that’s a good thing.
I also think of diversity in terms of our career backgrounds. I had one job for a year before starting CareContent. Most of my work background consisted of my going to school and traveling. And that has a huge bearing on how I approach our team and the work we do.
All of that makes for a nice range of high notes we can strike—different ways we can pull together ideas and present them in a unique way. Video, infographics, animation, podcasts, compelling patient narratives—all of this and more is part of our creative “mix.”
And despite—or maybe because of—our different backgrounds, we all somehow ended up interested in healthcare.
No matter what kind of cultural background you come from, no matter what your ethnicity is, no matter what your socioeconomic status is—at some point, you are going to encounter the healthcare system.
Everyone on our team has had experiences with healthcare—and that’s why we’re here. We decided we wanted to help our clients improve the healthcare experience for everyone.
We are committed to doing our part, and using our talents and gifts as communicators to make healthcare a little bit better by creating great content for our clients. Contact us to find out how we can help you meet your healthcare marketing goals.