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  • Writer's pictureAlan Shoebridge

HMPS 2023: Insights and inspirations for healthcare communicators and marketers

It’s a challenging time to be involved in healthcare, but it’s also rewarding to see how many people are focused on improving it. Doing things better. Engaging our audiences more effectively. Addressing inequities and removing barriers. Asking tough questions.

A spirit of innovation and collaboration was on display throughout the 28th annual Healthcare Marketing & Physician Strategies Summit held earlier this week in Austin, Texas.

Some amazing food was also consumed along the way!

It’s impossible to capture all the conversations during the event, but below are a few insights and observations that will help give you a glimpse into this year’s conference.

Full daily recaps are available below the slides.

TLDR: Check out the highlights in 7 slides below

HMPS summary final
Download PDF • 744KB

Full recaps of each day


💡👇 **Reducing Health Inequities**

Jessica Reker, MPH, RN & Jana Distefano, MPH

Health equity challenge: Serving "frontier communities" - sparsely populated areas that are geographically isolated from population centers and services.

Marketers and communicators need to be tightly aligned with Community Health Assessments to understand the populations they’re serving.

Critical access hospitals play a major role in reducing health inequities.

Health inequities are barriers to care that prevent certain populations from achieving optimal health.

Many equity issues are similar between urban and rural areas, but some like transportation, can be even more challenging in rural areas.


💡👇 **Big data vs thick data**

Dean Browell & Danny Fell

“Qualitative research helps make big data more actionable. Big data doesn’t tell you the most powerful stories from patients.”

“We need to use the data we have, but use it better.”

“We should move from asking patients ‘would’ you recommend our brand to ‘DO’ you recommend our brand.”

“Research is an amazing gift that can help the whole organization.”

Shocking fact: The oldest Millennials will be 42 years old in 2023. Adjust your personas!


💡👇 **Labor Communication Strategy Counts During Labor Unrest**

Me & Karen Wish

Union organizing, strikes and related actions are on the rise in healthcare. These were the action steps we shared with the audience:

✅ Understand which unions are active in your markets and what their strategies are likely to be.

✅ Build your communication plans well in advance.

✅ Develop a stakeholder relations plan for how your team will interact with legal, government affairs, hospital chief nursing officers, etc.

✅ Set expectations in advance with leaders for how you will respond to key audiences, including the public.


💡👇 **Keynote session**

Kelly McDonald

One of the most interesting parts of this keynote explored the value of a diverse workforce. Diverse teams:

✅ Outperform non-diverse teams.

✅ Enjoy going to work more than non-diverse teams.

✅ Embrace innovation.

✅ Have the highest levels of engagement.

And there were about 15 more benefits that she shared. If that’s not persuasive as to why diverse teams are essential to healthcare organizations, I don’t know what would be!


💡👇 **Integrate DEI into your organizational culture**

Chris Bevolo, Deb Pappas, Victor Reiss, & Michiko Tanabe

“DEI initiatives need to be integrated into operations and marketing.”

“Organizations must identify DEI gaps, prioritize where to focus, build a strategy and put processes in place to drive change.”

“Progress on DEI goals must be transparent and regularly communicated. Openness and transparency are critical.”

“DEI doesn’t have a start date and a finish date. It’s not a project. It should become part of everything you do.”

“DEI is fundamental to an organization’s future survival.”

“Marketers and communicators are in the right position to help organizations make progress on DEI.”


💡👇 **Storm Warnings Ahead: Coping with Controversies**

Selima Khan, Michael Knecht, Gayle Sweitzer & Susan Alcorn

Communicators are having to navigate a very complicated set of issues. It won’t get easier any time soon.

“Communicators need to be at the table from the beginning when controversial issues are being discussed.”

"There has never been a bigger need for collaboration.”

“There is comment fatigue among the public and employees.” We need to make sure that comments on controversial/tragic issues add value or drive action.


💡👇 **Improve Customer Experience with a Disruptor Mindset**

Matt Gove, Eric Steinberger & Sondra Brown

“Access, convenience and billing are points of friction for healthcare consumers – what can we learn from outside of industry to address them?”

“Healthcare wasn’t designed to meet the needs of customers outside of clinical care.”

“Customer experience needs to be a core responsibility for marketing teams.”

“Customer experience cannot be improved without the full understanding and buy-in from the C-suite.”

“Start small by focusing on the biggest pain points: access and billing.”

“Your brand is nothing more than the sum of your customers’ experiences with you.”

“There are a lot of people in healthcare who are marketing to themselves. You need to find out who your customers really are.”

“Health systems are data rich and insights poor.”


💡👇 **Make the Case for Anything – and Get It**

Heather Hansen (keynote)

“Facts tell. Stories sell. Advocates win.”

“Turn adversaries into advocates. It’s starts with compassion.”

“To be a strong advocate for yourself, you need to see things from the other person’s perspective.”

“You don’t need to feel what people feel, but you need to see their perspective. Perspective beats empathy.”

“Questions are how we get the evidence and stories we can use to advocate.”

When you’re dealing with someone think about “where are they right?” instead of focusing on “where are they are wrong?”

“Credibility = promises kept + expectations met.”


💡👇 **Generative AI: What You Need to Know**

Tanya Andreadis, Reed Smith, Blake Madden, Sujal kumar Raju & James A. Gardner

“Simple definition of AI: teaching computers to act like humans.”

“We’re all figuring out how to do more with less. AI can help. It’s additive to our workflows.”

“AI content has to be carefully implemented with validation on copyrights, plagiarism and other factors.”

What’s the best onramp for experimenting with AI? Panel suggestions:

🤖 ChatGPT4

🤖 Microsoft Edge Bing

🤖 Journey


🤖 Jasper

“Challenge your teams to figure out ways to use AI – not to replace workers, but to supplement resources.”

😋 Bonus: Food recommendations

Here are two amazing stops in Austin:

Bike parked next to the river in Austin, Texas.
Burn a few calories after - or before - eating in Austin. Electric bikes are readily available.

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