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Decode on the Road: Key Takeaways from SHSMD Connections 2019

Created On: November 7, 2019

Is there anything better than getting to travel while you learn? We certainly don’t think so! Recently, members of our team packed their bags and boarded a plane to Nashville, Tennessee, for the Society for Health Care Strategy & Market Development’s Connections 2019, a conference dedicated to healthcare marketing strategy. The week was jam-packed with information and discoveries, but here are some of our favorite takeaways. 



1. Earning the Trust of Key Stakeholders Is Vital 

Just as physicians gain the trust of their patients by establishing themselves as experts in their field, you need to project confidence about your capabilities to achieve a similar result. Don’t be afraid to explain the logistics of what you do and use data to back up your suggestions. Doctors tend to be analytical and appreciate evidence-based information, so speak their language to close the gap between you and them. 


2. Create Short-Term and Long-Term Goals for Improving SEO

Achieving long-term goals can often seem like beating the final boss at the end of a video game. It takes perseverance, skill, and a lot of time. Meanwhile, short-term goals are simpler, making them much less intimidating. Improve your SEO with a mixture of both goals to keep you motivated with small wins and to feel a sense of accomplishment with significant gains. 

Here’s one of our favorite short-term goals: When physicians vet your page for accuracy and suggest changes such as exchanging “heart attack” for the jargony “myocardial infarction,” consider what keywords consumers are likely to use. Chances are they haven’t heard the technical term, which can cause your SEO ranking to plummet if you remove “heart attack.” Use both phrases to appease your stakeholders while encouraging search engines to present your material to consumers. 


3. Encourage a Consistent Brand Identity on All Levels

When most people see a hospital, they just think of it as a hospital and not as an overarching partner in health. Conveying the image of your healthcare system as a network of trusted individuals ready to do whatever it takes to improve community health is necessary for staying top of mind. Develop a strong “why” message, and encourage every single member of your organization — from triage nurses in the ER to the chief of neurosurgery — to internalize it and convey this message to everyone who walks in the door. 



4. Create Loyal Ambassadors and Trusted Authorities

Encourage your physicians to express their thoughts on social media (within reason). Implement a post-sharing strategy between the hospital, its leaders, and its physicians. Have doctors post about their triumphs or even blog posts or positive news stories about themselves. This online engagement is essential, as physician-to-physician communication is a factor in determining U.S. News & World Report’s annual hospital rankings. Ensure your ambassadors understand their online communications are a reflection of your entire health system, and reinforce the importance of your brand messaging and what kind of content they should avoid. 


5. Everyone Can Benefit From Continuing Education 

Whether you’re a member of an internal marketing team, an agency supporting a health system, or even a medical supplier, attending conferences can build your network and provide you with insight into the healthcare marketing industry. Feel free to pick the brains of other professionals, and don’t be afraid to share your successes and advice with people who ask for it. 


All in all, we had a great time learning about the latest innovations and ideas in healthcare marketing, and we’ll be spending the time leading up to Connections 2020 by implementing new strategies. Hope to see you there next year!