• Alan Shoebridge

Joe Public 2020: Insights and inspirations



“We all got into this industry for the same reason. We wanted to change healthcare for the better. And we have the power to do it.”

That powerful quote was from Suzanne Hendery, Chief Marketing & Communications Officer at Renown Health and a fellow SHSMD board member, during day two of the annual Joe Public Retreat presented by Revive Health. The focus of this year’s event in San Diego was growth, inherent in which is a challenge to healthcare marketers. How do we drive change that results in smart growth through better products, improved patient experiences and stronger brands?


That’s quite a challenge, which made for some provocative and interesting conversations during the course of the retreat. It’s impossible to pack three days of content into a single blog post, but I think these highlights will provide much of the conference’s flavor.


Conference highlights


Day 1 featured a great conversation with Bryan Hamilton and Kristen Wevers led by Chris Bevolo. Here are some insights that stood out to me:


  • If your organization’s leaders see the brand as just a logo, marketing has not done a good job of explaining brand.

  • Marketing/brand literacy is low among our organizational leaders. We need to help educate them.

  • Conversations about brand need to be focused on protecting and advancing the organization’s reputation. It’s not just about activity.

  • The best brands are focused on the functional and the emotional. They are powered by purpose.

  • Successful brands are built from the inside out.

  • Too many healthcare organizations do not know where their brands stand today. You need baseline metrics.

  • Brand metrics should cover everything from awareness to consideration to action.

  • The brand evaluation process is a marathon, not a sprint.

  • If you want to make a major brand change, you have to take a leap. Don’t make it incremental.

  • We are not doing enough to separate healthcare brands from one another. We need more distinction.


Day 2 started with Scott Weber and Selima Khan discussing “Growth and the Consumer Experience.” Key takeaways:


  • Marketing needs to understand consumers at a level that nobody else does.

  • Marketing can embrace consumer experience efforts by eliminating busy work and focusing on what matters most for the health system.

  • Consumer experience is the biggest differentiator for your brand.

  • A tough question for any organization: Are you consumer/patient-centric or physician-centric?

  • New competitors are embracing a consumer-centric approach. Change is not optional.

  • We need to be less reactive to outliers and focus on what happens to the most people we serve.

Suzanne Hendery and Don Stanziano, APR explored service line growth. Key takeaways:


  • Too often we’re data rich and insights poor.

  • Nobody wants what we’re selling. Nobody wants to get sick. We need to make it easy and accessible for people to stay healthy.

  • Developing patient personas helps you understand who to focus on and how to reach them.

  • You have to meet your audience where they are. It’s not always about digital.

  • Having a plan will help keep you sane and delivering maximum impact.


Additional insights from Nathan Kaufman on "Differentiating Between Signals and Noise." Key takeaways:


  • Our industry is distracted by innovation. Just because it’s new, doesn’t mean it works.

  • Healthcare has a disease, and it’s called premature infatuation.

  • If you don’t have differentiation, all that’s left is price.

  • Rural hospitals will continue to struggle to attract physicians and will have to move away from inpatient services if there is no true need.

  • Consumerism is not bringing the change we thought it would.

  • Care avoidance is becoming the norm.

  • Shoppable healthcare services only represent about 7% of spending.

  • The majority of healthcare patients have limited healthcare literacy.

  • Access is the biggest drive of change.

  • We have a one-size fits all healthcare system that doesn't reflect our population.

  • We need to focus on what the facts are, not what we want them to be.


Day 3 featured a panel discussion with Marcus Irigaray and Bob Beverwyk on "Anti-growth: Managing difficult financial issues and crisis." Key takeaways:


  • The saying “no margin, no mission” has never been more accurate or acute.

  • The economic realities of non-profit healthcare continue to be extremely challenging. Overcoming them requires re-thinking outdated policies.

  • Brand reputations are at risk with efforts to more aggressively collect on non-payments.

  • Transparency of cost information is important, but we have to help patients better navigate the system.

  • Are we at the tipping point of providers needing to push back more publicly against payors to control costs?

  • Marketers need to develop deeper relationships with their financial teams.


Closing thoughts


Overall, it was a great conference with useful, actionable insights from the speakers. Spending time on learning is a great investment in your professional development. Onward and upward until next year's event in Nashville!


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