“We Can’t” Disrupt Healthcare

SHSMD Connections 2019: Tuesday, Sept. 10

The fun and insight at SHSMD Connections 2019 continued into Tuesday with another strong lineup of talks covering every aspect of healthcare marketing, communications and strategy. (Check out our Monday recap here.) A theme that emerged on Tuesday was the importance of using the right tools in the right contexts. Sounds obvious, right? However, several speakers maintained that initiatives of all sizes fail because the people leading the initiatives either pick the wrong tools for the job or use the right tools inappropriately.

Thanks to Kim Reynolds for contributing to this recap.

A Physician CEO Shares the “Special Sauce” to Align and Engage Physician Providers

Kevin Lewis, MD, President & CEO, SSM Health Medical Group

Susan Emerson, SVP Strategic Planning & Business Development, Private Health News / MedNews Plus


The Premise

In 2015, physician satisfaction at SSM Health Medical Group was relatively high, but so was turnover. Satisfaction among other employees wasn’t great. Worse, patient satisfaction was low – in the 58th percentile.

Lewis and his team identified a disconnect between the stated mission/vision of the faith-based organization and the on-the-ground realities affecting patients and staff. They eventually recognized that their vision statement was rich but hard to follow. And it wasn’t forward-looking. This created a gap because people couldn’t connect the vision to their everyday work.

At the same time, SSM Health Medical Group was growing rapidly. There were some problems, but there was also a lot of positive change happening. Put together, these tensions led to the question, “How do you not lose your culture and atmosphere during change, even during positive explosive growth?”


The Approach

Lewis and his team kept their mission statement – which focuses on being exceptional and points people to an ideal (in this case, a religious one) – but revamped their vision statement. Today, it reads, “To be the first, foremost, and future of healthcare in Oklahoma.”

To make the vision more practical, they also created slogans to help guide daily actions. For example, “Be predisposed to action and saying yes.”

Finally, Lewis built a communications plan focused on what the SSM physicians wanted and needed. It helped colleagues get to know each other and gave relevant information. Simple things, like providing information about a physician in their bio using their own words, helped people connect.

The delivery of information used the highest-touch channel possible. Lewis did face-to-face meetings when he could. However, since that wasn’t scalable, he’d go to the next best option – text messages for personal check-ins and email for delivering news, education and updates. (Email is preferred by 73 percent of physicians for this purpose.)

Today, physician engagement is in the 68th percentile. Patient experience reached the 85th percentile in 2018 and, by the end of 2020, the Oklahoma-based organization will have doubled its net revenue from 2015.


Key Ideas

  • A mission statement should talk about who you are and connect with why you exist. it should reach the heart.
  • Content-rich mission/vision statements aren’t inherently bad, but they have to tell a specific story about where the organization is going. It’s not enough to just include low-hanging fruit about delivering care.
  • If you’re not constantly selling your providers on where the organization is headed, and you don’t involve them in the conversation, someone else is going to come in and show them a future they’d rather be part of. They’ll leave.
  • Content is just as important as the channel. Even though email is preferred, it often isn’t effective because it’s not checking basic boxes: mobile friendly, relevant, breaking through the clutter.
  • Build in intentional redundancies. Too much information is spread among physicians by word-of-mouth. Therefore, healthcare organizations need to use multiple channels and repeat messages.
  • Have some fun.


Key Quotes

  • If mission, vision and values aren’t connecting inside your organization, you have no way of connecting with the communities and people you serve.
  • How do you connect with a vision statement if you can’t memorize it?
  • We spend most of our time highlighting the new physician or practice. Meanwhile, the 25-year stalwart is over there saying, “I’m still here.”
  • “People will forget what you did, they will forget what you said, but they will never forget how you feel.” – Maya Angelou
  • Above all, always ask: “Does our messaging support the work of the physician?”


Stakeholder Collaboration: Working Across the Aisles in Positioning Service Lines for Growth and Sustainability

Leah Sheppard, AVP of Marketing, Einstein Healthcare Network

Kate O’Rourke, Senior Director of Physician Liaison Services, Einstein Healthcare Network

Rush a Stone, AVP of Strategic Planning & Business Development, Einstein Healthcare Network


The Premise

Einstein Healthcare Network is a diverse system with numerous individual facilities covering many service lines. It was difficult to know which services lines at facilities were positioned for growth, which needed help and which were stable as is.

In 2016, the team had finished a strategic plan for Einstein Medical Center Montgomery. Soon after, the CEO of Einstein Philadelphia requested a growth and sustainability plan (instead of full-blown strategic plan). The project involved collaboration between the planning, marketing and physician liaison services departments, forcing each group to get out of its silo. In addition, like many healthcare organizations, they had access to a lot of data – but finding clear answers within the data was a challenge.


The Approach

The team was disciplined and picked the necessary data, then developed a scoring method designed around Einstein’s unique needs. This allowed them to categorize and put each of their services lines into one of three tiers instead of seeing them as a jumbled mess.

From the analytics, the group designed a process to roll out the new tiered service line structure to the organization, which included clearly identifying key service lines positioned for increased volume, prioritizing those lines and producing clear goals. However, they quickly realized that, in a three-tier system, no one wants to find out their service line is tier 3. Therefore, the team reframed the tiers into categories and created a different naming convention (LEO)

  • Tier 1: Leading
  • Tier 2: Emerging
  • Tier 3: Optimizing

They defined each of these categories, showing where service lines in each fit into the organizational structure. It wasn’t that one was better than the other, but that they each had different roles to the success of the health system.

They created plans for each category that helped determine the appropriate resources for services lines in each one. This, in turn, helped the organization prioritize based on a big picture and get away from responding to the squeaky wheel. Service lines in each category were given resources to do their own outreach and marketing if they so desired.

The overall outcome was minimizing one-off requests from people within services lines, a clear picture for senior leaders of corporate services and shared accountability among stakeholders.


Key Ideas

  • Pick a few data points based on what’s relevant. It’s about being disciplined and picking the right data, not more data.
  • Transparency is critical. Everyone across the organization must know in any given fiscal year what they’re heading towards
  • Optics and language matter. No one wants to be “Tier 3.”
  • It’s important to focus on the resources that are being provided, not the ones a service line isn’t getting.


Key Quotes

  • “Everybody gets something. We were shifting from the idea of ‘no’ – ‘no, you won’t get a billboard’ – to ‘everybody gets something.’ But, it’s according to the category they’re in.”
  • “Knowing when a service line is ready to go to market is as much about operational clinical readiness as it is about available marketing dollars.”
  • “For optimizing service lines, the conversation was made easier because they knew they were going to be promoted in some fashion and they were valuable to our network.”

Why Medicine Must Adopt a Consumer-Oriented “Marketing Mindset”  (#ReframeHealthcare)

Zeev Neuwirth, Senior Medical Director of Population Health, Atrium Health, and Author of “Reframing Healthcare”

While this talk was designed to be inspirational and highlight high-level ideas more than produce specific learning objectives, we did pull out a number of key points that frame the issues facing American healthcare today.

The Premise

We are in the midst of an American Healthcare Dilemma:

  • Less than 50% of evidence based medicine guidelines are followed, even after 20+ years of quality and safety initiatives.
  • One of three people who are hospitalized WITH health insurance use up most or all of their savings for their portion of the cost.
  • Consumer trust in our healthcare system is barely better than it is in Russia.

Healthcare in the United States is the size of the entire German economy and makes up 1/5 of our own GDP. Even so, 200,000-400,000 Americans unnecessarily die in the system every year.

Healthcare is badly broken and consumers will not continue to tolerate it. We have to stop solving existing problems that are irrelevant to our customers. We have to REFRAME and start solving for different problems.


The Approach

REFRAME healthcare: Reorient, redefine, redirect.

“Marketing” doesn’t mean promoting or selling healthcare, it’s about using the tools, technologies and resources to REFRAME healthcare delivery.

Providers need to segment, pool and target people by their needs, not by their demographics or psychographics.

The three steps to reframing consumerism and implementing consumer-driven healthcare are:

  1. Identify customer segments and needs
  2. Create customer-oriented solutions
  3. Connect and engage consumers to achieve relevance

Key Ideas

  • Walmart is reframing employee healthcare and not doing unnecessary procedures/surgeries (25-50% were deemed inappropriate by Centers of Excellence).
  • Companies are reframing wellness in a radical – not incremental – way: Peloton is a computer with a bike attached.
  • Figure it out or be left behind: United and Aetna are partnering with industries who are “further along in the consumer mindset.”
  • According to Marcus Osborne of Walmart, healthcare is a “consumer ALSO” industry, while Walmart is a “consumer ONLY” industry. That’s the way the industry is headed, traditional providers beware.


Key Quotes

  • Don’t sell healthcare, do healthcare. This is the “marketing mindset” that will reframe healthcare.
  • If we’re going to get out of this mess, we have to tell a much better story than we’ve been telling in healthcare.
  • Healthcare is the hungry tapeworm of corporate America.  – Warren Buffet
  • Healthcare is now a retail business. – David Feinberg, MD – former CEO of Geisinger Health (now Google)
David Shifrin