“If I had asked people what they wanted, they would have said faster horses.”

This famous Henry Ford quote seemed especially relevant when it was shared by a presenter at last week’s Society for Healthcare Strategy and Market Development (#SHSMD17) Annual Conference in Orlando.  Disruptive innovation was a common thread throughout the talks that I attended – and there was a shared understanding that health care marketers and communicators need to start thinking beyond the present and anticipate what consumers (yes, consumers, not “patients”) will be wanting five, 10 or 20 years from now.

Moving to MarTech

In their “MarCom to MarTech: What CMO’s Must Do to Succeed in 2017 and Beyond” session, Karen Corrigan of Corrigan Consulting and Kathy Divis of Greystone.Net talked about some of the top trends in technology that will drive revenue growth, brand management, customer engagement and other key responsibilities for health care marketers. Among the key trends they highlighted:

  • Transitioning from advertising to brand experience – and the importance of the customer journey, both digital and traditional
  • The continued rise of the empowered customer – and the changing competitive landscape as consumerism evolves (think Amazon’s secret “1492” team, which was referenced by several conference speakers)
  • The emergence of mixed reality, which merges virtual and augmented realities – democratizing the VR experience by making it easier for anyone to create these scenarios (Peek VR will soon be available on Sitecore’s Experience Platform)

The impact of artificial intelligence and the internet of things (IoT) – how can these tools change brand experience, especially as consumers increasingly search by voice (client Mayo Clinic recently teamed up with Amazon to offer first aid assistance via Amazon Alexa)? How can we tie into existing tools?

The Consumerization of Health Care

Deborah Fullerton of AMITA Health and Kim Athmann King of Strategy Advantage tackled the consumerization of health care in their talk, “Dare to Innovate: How to Retail-ize, Digital-ize and ‘Consumer-ize’ Healthcare.” They shared what action-forward leaders are doing to change health care, including:

  • Providence Health, which recently hired a Microsoft executive as its CFO to make “an intentional pivot that will support the intersection between technology and health care…as we pursue innovative new offerings that will make our services more convenient and affordable while also generating new revenue streams…”
  • Kaiser Permanente has created Health Hubs which are more customer-centric with unique features such as text message alerts to let patients know when their doctor is ready to see them, giving them freedom to move about until that time, even on a two mile walking trail, and electronic monitors allowing the patient to see what the doctor is writing in his or her chart.
  • MultiCare is allowing its OB patients to opt-in for virtual visits for selected appointments, reducing in-person visits from 16 to 11 for uncomplicated pregnancies.

During the presentation, Fullerton discussed how Chicago-based AMITA has made a strategic investment in new digital tools to help improve patient experience and access to care:

  • Online patient scheduling through DocASAP intelligently matches patient needs and simplifies timely access through online scheduling while increasing patient retention through engagement and analytics
  • Apps that help improve care after discharge and reduce readmissions:
    • AMITA HealthCheck simplifies complex care plans into daily steps
    • Kaizen Health links patients to transportation for post-discharge rehabilitation
    • Triggr provides a 24/7 recovery coach that uses GPS tracking and positive re-direction when an addiction patient is too close to a trigger site
    • NowPow connects Medicare ACO patients to food pantries, housing and other resources to address social needs and improve care transitions
  • A custom waiting room app that helps improve the experience for families of surgical patients by keeping them informed of their loved one’s status via their mobile device

Challenging What’s Possible

SHSMD also challenged our thinking about what’s possible with speaker Mick Ebeling, CEO of Not Impossible, an organization that develops creative solutions to address real-world problems. Ebeling developed the EyeWriter, an open source, low-cost, DIY device, that enables individuals with paralysis to communicate and create art using only the movement of their eyes. He also identified a way to 3-D-print prosthetic limbs and fit them for children in war-torn Sudan – creating access to prosthetics in a difficult-to-access region and reducing the cost from nearly $15,000 to about $100. These stories are best told through these videos. Get your tissues.

As health care marketers, we need to anticipate these changes, engage in smart partnerships, and make bold moves to stay relevant and, ultimately, thrive.

As part of his talk, Ebeling shared, “If things that are possible today used to be impossible, things that are impossible today are on the trajectory of being possible.” As health care marketers, we need to anticipate these changes, engage in smart partnerships, and make bold moves to stay relevant and, ultimately, thrive. SHSMD 2017 provided a great foundation for this with a program featuring forward-thinking speakers and opportunities to connect with some of the smartest health care marketers in the business.

See you next year in Seattle!