4 key takeaways from SHSMD 2022

4 key takeaways from SHSMD 2022 By Jayne Alexander
posted Sep 23, 2022

This past week, the Revive team had the pleasure of attending the annual SHSMD conference, and an event that creates opportunities for health care strategists, marketers, communication professionals, and everything in between. SHSMD has always been a staple conference for the Revive team, but 2022 was our first time back in person since 2019. Don’t get us wrong, virtual conferences have their benefits, but nothing can fully replace collaborating, networking, and even debating with other healthcare marketing professionals face-to-face.

At events like these, it’s nearly impossible to attend every session you want to, so our team put our heads together and developed our top five takeaways from the conference.

1) Untangling the Web of Digital Transformation

When COVID-19 hit, the healthcare industry experienced decades worth of digital transformation over the course of just a couple years. While the changes were mostly positive, many of these technology platforms remain siloed from each other. Healthcare organizations are now taking a big step back and reevaluating their tech stack with the hopes of having a more connected, unified digital foundation. This is not an easy feat, and it won’t happen overnight. Your IT team may be in charge of these tools, but you need to insert yourself in the conversation to ensure that someone who understands the voice of the customer is part of the development. Additionally, it’s important that your team’s needs aren’t lost in the shuffle. For example, one marketing team mentioned that a separate team had gained complete control over the marketing automation platform at their organization. Be proactive about advocating for your team and what they need.

2) Maintaining Patient & Community Trust

With misinformation running rampant, hospitals and health systems are facing a decline in trust from patients in the communities they serve. It’s important that healthcare organizations continue to fight the good fight, demonstrating medical leadership by advocating for what’s right for their community. That’s the surest way to maintain trust. An idea we heard at the conference was responding to bad reviews your organization gets and offering to have a phone call with that patient to figure out what went wrong. Secondary research won’t cut it when it comes to regaining trust. Health systems need to find out what’s important to their specific communities.

3) Increased Focus on Physician Referrals

In our recent book, Joe Public 2030, we discuss “The Funnel Wars,” a prediction that outlines new entrants to the healthcare space that are beginning to compete with hospitals and health systems. This is just one of the reasons that many health systems are doubling down on critical channels for patient acquisition, with a special focus on physician referrals. One way to better reach this notoriously difficult-to-reach audience is borrowing a strategy from your consumer marketing: using programmatic audience segments and first party data to target if possible. You need to find out on what is important to your referring physicians. What are they responsible for at their organization? What makes their job easier? With this information, you can build personas and create relevant content.

4) Surprise, Surprise: Workforce

It’s no secret that the healthcare industry is facing a workforce crisis. The question marketing professionals are now asking themselves: what can my team do to help my organization? This was one of the topics Revive’s own EVP of Strategy, Jeff Speer, alongside Beth Toner, Senior Communications Officer at Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, covered in their session “Connecting nurses with their most important audience… nurses.” Beth and Jeff focused specifically on the role marketing teams can play when it comes to their nurse workforce. Those who were able to attend the session were able to hear anecdotes first-hand from Beth, who shared experiences from her previous career as a nurse (and continued work she does as a volunteer nurse). While we can’t emulate Beth’s ability to share brutal truths in an entertaining way, we can share the three main takeaways from the presentation:

  • Listen, listen, listen
    • Talk to your colleagues – your HR leaders and recruiters, your nurse leadership, and MOST importantly, the nurses themselves.
  • Include nurses in your overall mission
    • Understand what your nursing workforce wants and needs and incorporate those wants and needs into the mission of your organization.
  • Don’t just talk the talk – walk the walk
    • Nurses can smell out spin and inauthenticity. They are also, as we’ve covered, extremely sensitive right now.

This doesn’t cover all the great insights shared at SHSMD 2022, but it’s certainly a place to start as a marketing professional in a rapidly changing industry. If you want to see the sessions for yourself, SHSMD is hosting a virtual conference on October 12th. You can register here if you’re interested. If these takeaways sparked your interest and you want to talk through it with other healthcare marketing professionals, don’t hesitate to reach out to the Revive team.