May healthcare marketing panel banner with speaker headshots

An all-star panel of senior healthcare marketing experts shared how successful brands have repositioned themselves to become more patient-centric and competitive in the digital age. The panel, co-sponsored by AMA Boston, Houston, Madison, New Jersey, and New York on May 6, 2021, featured moderator Mari Considine, CDO/CMO – Acenda Health, and panelists Deven Nongbri, AVP Marketing – HCA Healthcare, Erica Martinez, SVP/Brand – BGB Group, and Stephen Cassell, CMO Board Advisor – Birchtree, LLC & Former SVP Marketing & Chief Brand Officer – Cigna.

The panel opened with a discussion of how Covid-19 has changed the conversation around how we do business with consumers, not just in healthcare. According to Deven Nongbri people have become more aware of how contact can spread disease and impact community health. To make people feel safer, businesses added contactless payments and pickup. Restaurants replaced paper menus with digital ones accessed on a smart phone via QR codes. According to Erica Martinez, healthcare providers made patient centricity front-and-center, building on the trend of utilitarianism and accessibility. They provided free rides to appointments via Uber and Lyft, and expanded the use of telemedicine.  All panelists agreed these trends would likely continue post-pandemic and spawn additional innovation.

Mari Considine next led the panel to explore trust. Erica Martinez indicated the latest Edelman Trust Barometer shows the public trusts business leaders more than media, government and non-governmental organizations. The public craves more information from subject-matter experts. Stephen Cassell pointed out there is lots of work that needs to be done to verify what is valid healthcare information. And he suggested influencers can be tapped to improve trust. Deven Nongbri indicated the trust gap in healthcare among communities of color runs deep. He suggested providers offer more diverse voices from experts in delivering messages. Erica Martinez believes ensuring healthcare data safety is another key to building trust. People are concerned with who has access to their health information and how it may affect their insurance coverage and how other businesses may treat them.

Finally, trust can be earned by being honest with the healthcare consumer: don’t sugar-coat it. Consumers are dealing with real problems and the outcomes of them. They want to know what to expect; what are the downsides to their condition or treatment going to be? Preparing and educating patients about knowing themselves and their treatment will also help to close the trust gap.

The panel then identified big trends in 2021 and beyond. These included:

  • Telehealth expansion.
  • Connectivity (e.g., Digital monitoring of health, such as heart monitors that upload data to your phone and pass it along to health providers to identify issues before a patient is even aware they are experiencing a problem).
  • Patient needs to be the north star. According to Erica Martinez, we cannot go back to the old ways of marketing. Healthcare marketers need to cease pushing products; instead, they need to help patients understand why they need to adhere to their treatments.

Finally, the panel offered suggestions for those seeking to break into healthcare marketing. All agreed that marketers don’t need to be scientists. Erica Martinez believes it’s easier to teach marketers the science than to teach scientists marketing. They need to be critical and creative thinkers who can work within a highly regulated field. Outside perspectives will always be beneficial. She suggested finding a mentor to guide you. Deven Nongbri believes audience-centric marketers will always be valued. And Stephen Cassell mentioned that data, lead gen and internal agency skills are in demand and transfer well into the space.

Many thanks to our moderator, Mari Considine and our panelists , Deven Nongbri, Erica Martinez and Stephen Cassell, plus all our attendees and volunteers.

See You Online for May’s Craft Marketing

Join the AMA Madison at the next Craft Marketing virtual event at 4 PM CST on May 25, 2021 where Terri Lynn Yanke of Eventful Advantage will present “Build Your Brand & Business with Events – In-Person or Online!

Register here for the online event.

See You Safely at a Socially-Distanced Outdoor Social at Olbrich Park in June

Have you been longing to connect face-to-face with your AMA friends? Join us at Olbrich Park on June 17 at 5pm for our end of year social. We will be safely socially-distanced. Look for details to register for this free event, including beverages and snacks, in late May at amamadison.org/events.

Author 

Steve Mintz serves on the AMA Madison board of directors and is a marketing consultant at CLM Prescriptives, LLC. Steve specializes in optimizing your insurance, financial services, and hospitality/entertainment marketing strategy to drive revenue, satisfaction, retention, and loyalty. He’s happy to talk marketing, curling and soccer over a craft beer anytime.