Websites, Youth and Humanity. Oh My! SHSMD18 Hallway Conversations

Posted on October 9, 2018 I Written By

Colin Hung is the co-founder of the #hcldr (healthcare leadership) tweetchat one of the most popular and active healthcare social media communities on Twitter. Colin speaks, tweets and blogs regularly about healthcare, technology, marketing and leadership. He is currently an independent marketing consultant working with leading healthIT companies. Colin is a member of #TheWalkingGallery. His Twitter handle is: @Colin_Hung.

The hallway conversations on Day 2 of SHSMD18 revealed many hospitals want to revamp their websites, SHSMD is trending younger and humanity is being injected into healthcare in a surprising place.

One of the most fascinating parts of a conference is not what is presented in sessions (although those are great too), but rather the discussions that happen in the hallways between sessions. To me, there is no better way to learn what is trending and what challenges people are most concerned about.

The hallway conversations I had on Day 2 of the 2018 Society for Healthcare Strategy & Market Development Conference #SHSMD18, were fascinating. Hospital consolidation was a concern for many attendees who worked at agencies – especially since they now had to compete to become the agency-of-record for the newly combined entity. I also overheard many #SHSMD18 attendees complain about their inability to fill open job postings as candidates opt for higher paying and higher profile roles at tech companies vs hospitals.

From all the conversations I had, three themes stood out:

  1. A lot of hospitals are looking to revamp their websites right now
  2. There is a youth movement within SHSMD
  3. Agencies are pushing/being asked to help humanize physician profiles online

Websites

I had a lengthy conversation with Bryan Fentress, Digital Solutions Director at Geonetric – a marketing, web design, content and SEO agency based in Cedar Rapids, IA – about the number of hospitals that seem to be in the midst of revamping their websites.

“Normally websites have a 36-48 month shelf life,” said Fentress. “But lately more and more hospitals are wanting to update their websites earlier. I think this is partly because competition is heating up and partly because the pace of change in web design has accelerated.”

Fentress also pointed to a change in the way hospitals approach website updates: “7 or 8 years ago, hospitals were asking ‘can you help me redesign my website?’ and ‘are you familiar with healthcare?’ – and that was it. Now websites are much more complex. They need to be integrated with social media, have patient engagement tools embedded in them, include searchable physician profiles, etc. This demonstrates how hospitals are more sophisticated on their needs for a new site, as they should be.”

I agree with Fentress and find it encouraging that many hospitals are looking to invest in making their websites more useful to patients and not just “prettier”.

Youth

One of my personal highlights of SHSMD is getting the chance to sit down with Dan Dunlop, Co-Owner and Principal at Jennings. Today, Dunlop and I spoke about the youth movement that seems to be happening at SHSMD.

“It’s really encouraging to see the number of young people here at SHSMD18”, said Dunlop. “It’s really noticeable how many fresh faces there are in attendance this year. We need this. SHSMD was never supposed to be an echo chamber and the only way to prevent that is by attracting new people into the fold. I was so happy when Jhaymee Wilson Tynan was announced as one of the new SHSMD board members. She’s a young, brilliant marketer who is going to bring a lot of new ideas to the table.”

Dunlop has been involved with SHSMD for a long time (he didn’t want me to publish exactly how long) and I trust him when he says that the crowd is getting younger. Having attended a number of SHSMD conferences myself, I agreed with Dunlop that this year there was a noticeable difference in the age range of attendees.

Time for SHSMD to ditch sodas in favor of kombucha.

Humanity

At the end of Day 2 I had the most fascinating conversation with Eric Mello, Marketing and Communications Manager at St. Mary’s Medical Center which is part of SCL Health. I was captivated by Mello’s story of the project they had been working on to humanize the online profiles of their physicians.

“Patients and potential patients want to know more about physicians than just where they went to school and what papers they may have published,” said Mello. “Today, patients are looking to connect with their physicians on a much deeper level. They want to get to know them as people. They want to know if they believe in the same things, play the same sports, enjoy the same activities. We had to respond to this by adding additional information to our physician profiles.”

At first, physicians were reticent to provide this “personal” information on their public profiles, but a few forward-thinking physicians agreed. The resulting positive feedback from patients was enough to convince other physicians to do the same. Today, most of the physicians have personalized profiles on the website.

Here is a link to an example profile: https://www.sclhealth.org/find-a-doctor/r/robbins-sarah-a/ When you read it you will see several things that are not typical of physician profiles. First, there is a quote from Dr Robbins that talks about how she approaches the well-being of her patients.

“I believe the health of the physician-patient relationship affects the health of the patient. Active listening, trust-building and partnership with my patient helps nurture our relationship. My job as a physician is to try to understand my patient as a whole so that I can offer individualized education, guidance and evidence-based advice that allows my patient to make important decisions about their health.”

Second, there is more than her medical credentials and past positions in her background profile: “Dr. Robbins always loved learning about science in school and wanted to have a career where she could directly help people.”

Third, Dr. Robbin’s activities outside of work are listed “When she is not at work, Dr. Robbins enjoys skiing, hiking, and exploring Denver with her husband, friends and two dogs.”

According to Mello, all these elements help to humanize Dr Robbins and transforms her from being a two-dimensional profiles on a website into more fully three-dimensional human being. I applaud Mello and the team at SCL Health for using something so small – physician profiles – to inject a little more humanity into healthcare.

I can’t wait for more hallway conversations on Day 3 of SHSMD18.