Meet the Multiscreen Patient

By Brian Simmons

The use of technology as a healthcare marketing tool continues to evolve, while all marketers search for the most effective uses to get the best return for their marketing dollars. Hospitals are no exception.

In a recent Medical Marketing & Media online article, it was reported that Cleveland Clinic has already shifted its marketing spend to digital through paid media, mobile optimization, email marketing and online video content generation as a means to attract patients locally as well as nationally. In the past 12 months, the health system’s combined efforts created 75,000 internet leads –surfers who clicked on links from paid search and downloaded information – which led to a conversion rate of 6,500 patients using their facility.

The reason they went digital? Patients today have a wide array of sources they tap into to inform their medical decisions, and 84% of that information comes through a screen, according to a 2012 Google Hospital Study.

What used to be a simple sales funnel of creating local brand awareness through billboards, TV ads and radio spots is now a mash-up of touch points that can include these mediums as well as desktop and mobile screen experiences. In fact, according to the Google Hospital Study, 83% of patients who booked an appointment visited a hospital’s website before doing so. And roughly 1/3 of this group did so on a tablet or mobile device.

Enter the era of the multiscreen patient. Now more than ever, patients are using multiple devices—desktop, smart phone, iPad—to do their hospital research, whether they are looking for physician reviews, health plan networks, or other relevant information to help them make their decisions.

Hospital marketers who want to engage multiscreen patients should keep these tips in mind:

  • Recognize that no two paths are the same – Messaging needs to scale to fit different devices, at different times and in different contexts. A website that works on the desktop may not make sense to the consumer who is pulling it up on their smartphone as they look for a hospital. Define some possible consumer scenarios, then adapt accordingly.
  • Avoid dead-ends – The surest way to turn off potential patients is to abandon them on a path that leads to nowhere. As hospital marketers, we need to make sure that every touch point leads patients to the next logical connection. That series of touch points is an extension of the brand experience. So if a patient uses their mobile device to respond to a call to action, but the site isn’t mobile-friendly, you’ve effectively shut down a potential patient experience. Map your patients’ journey and craft a digital content strategy that spans all channels and connecting touch points.
  • Embrace the informed patient – There’s no getting around the wealth of healthcare information online thanks to sites like WebMD, as well as provider and payer sites themselves. The best a hospital can do is provide clear brand messaging that speaks to the reputation of the facility and physicians, and eases the patient journey to conversion.

Know your patients. Understand how they approach a healthcare decision, and make sure your brand is where they are. Today that means taking a holistic approach to digital content to ensure your consumers have a rewarding experience at every step of their journey, no matter which device they use to access it.

This post was also contributed by Christine Pierpoint, VP of Emerging Media at IMRE

By Social Marketing Team

If you’re not calling upon social advocates as an extension to your wellness brand’s advocacy efforts, it’s time. Nielsen’s Global Trust Advertising Survey found 92% of consumers around the world say they trust earned media, such as word-of-mouth and recommendations, above all forms of advertising. Online consumer reviews are the second most trusted form of advertising. While these influential brand ambassadors make up just 1% of a brand’s social community, they are primarily the ones driving the conversation and the shares. This group of loyalists can drive up to 70% of traffic to any given campaign. Identifying these influencers who are driving the conversations is the first step to understanding the audience in your social community.
Read the rest of this entry »

By Brian Simmons

As we head into 2013, social media continues to establish a strong presence across all industries, with healthcare being no exception. As we move forward in the New Year, it’s important to reflect on success stories in 2012 to extract key learning’s as we continue to enhance social media strategies. Below are a few healthcare social media success stories from the past year, as well as a few key trends we see taking shape in 2013.

In the past year, we saw one major pharmaceutical company begin to rewrite the rules of social media by jumping online and networking with a specified disease category via Facebook and Twitter. What we’ve learned from this pioneer is that transparency from the pharmaceutical manufacturer is key – introducing the moderator of the group, outlining the purpose of the group, and offering a Q&A session with the company’s head of U.S. regulatory affairs to discuss how the site would function. In this instance, the approach quarantined posts internally – meaning posts were sent to an administrator for the brand for approval before appearing on the site, which allowed time to ensure product information was correct and no protective health information (PHI) was being shared – a strong move to meet FDA and HIPAA guidelines.
Read the rest of this entry »

Welcome to IMRE Health IQ

By Brian Simmons

2013 is a new year, and with it, you can expect new insights from IMRE’s healthcare team! We’ve been busy this past year learning from our healthcare clients and working collaboratively with them to develop integrated marketing solutions that drive results. On this blog we plan to share some of the key learning’s from our experience, continue offering industry insight from our healthcare leader Jeff Smokler, and stay abreast of emerging healthcare trends (and legislation) as they continue to unfold.

You can subscribe to our new feed by RSS and can also follow us on Twitter at @IMREHealthIQ.

Or, you can always reach out to our team directly by emailing Brian Simmons at

By Jeff Smokler

Today’s healthcare environment requires that hospital administrators and communicators alike embrace new communications viewpoints and tactics. Otherwise, they risk being outpaced – and out maneuvered – in an increasingly competitive marketplace. IMRE Health has identified five of the biggest trends affecting hospitals today, along with recommendations for healthcare communicators on how to attract patients, improve internal and external relationships, and ultimately rise above the crowd in this new generation of healthcare marketing. Read the rest of this entry »

By Daphne Swancutt

Law gavel 300x199 How the SCOTUS Healthcare Decision May Impact Private InsurersA collective whiplash transcending party lines occurred when the Supreme Court announced its decision upholding all parts of the Affordable Care Act on Thursday.

At the center of that decision was the notorious individual mandate, which had many spitting venom and vitriol for months. That a majority opinion supporting the constitutionality of the individual mandate became the ultimate judicial word was astonishing to most—no matter what side of the aisle you’d planted your allegiance.

We’re not going to talk politics here, though. There are plenty of people who will be stepping in to that morass throughout what promises to be a spirited election cycle.

Let’s talk about private insurers, an industry that—besides the Obama administration—had the most to lose (or gain, depending on how you look at it) from the decision.

Let’s face it: Health plans are not known for warm and fuzzy. As an industry that is highly focused on mitigating cost, this is probably too much to expect. And, yet, they are at a fork in the road. Besides mitigating cost, health insurers have an opportunity to mitigate perception. Read the rest of this entry »

Telling a Story that Matters

By Daphne Swancutt

Stethoscope and books 300x200 Telling a Story that MattersHealthcare companies—or any companies, for that matter—working with communication agencies have probably heard this one a lot lately: Tell your story, and the people will come.


That’s like telling someone to build a bridge to nowhere. And, anyone who’s ever heard, read or told an enjoyable story knows or intuits two things: A good, resonant story has a 1) compelling voice that 2) makes a connection.

This is where most healthcare organizations today are falling flat. Your story isn’t your mission statement, it’s not about screaming brand from a mountaintop, and it sure isn’t a recitation of products and services.

As the commoditization of healthcare continues its grand ascent and the mandates of reform begin to materialize, it’s important for your company—and everyone with a stake in it—to step back, reconsider the idea of “story” and craft something that connects you to your audiences.

If you don’t get it right, it won’t matter. Here’s what you need to consider when developing your story. Read the rest of this entry »

By Jeff Smokler

Affordable Insurance Exchanges Communicating in the Era of Health Insurance ExchangesThe March 12 release of the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) final rule on health insurance exchanges made one thing very clear: One size will not fit all.

The experience of a healthcare consumer in Maryland could be very different than one in neighboring Virginia. This makes sense, given the enormous variation in demographics across the nation.

As health insurance plans gear up to fight for their fair share of the millions of new customers expected to purchase coverage on the exchanges, their communications and marketing strategies will have to mirror the flexibility set forth in the HHS rule.

That said, there are a number of things that all health insurance plans need to consider as they formulate their marketing strategies. Read the rest of this entry »

All We Want for 2012

By Daphne Swancutt

20121 300x218 All We Want for 2012  While the beginning of a new year always prompts a watershed of trend lists and stories, we thought we’d take it a step further and combine our trend watch with a wish list for 2012. No question, there are big—even revolutionary—things happening in healthcare. But, trends without the potential for long-term influence are just fads that fade away.

1.  Mobile Health: With the market for mobile health apps projected to quadruple to $400MM by 2016, we anticipate continued growth in the volume of sports, fitness and wellness tools designed for use on smartphones and tablets. And, no doubt we’ll see more key tech players coming up with new applications that offer further integration with social networks and other apps, plus durable yet fashionable products to track activities and behaviors.
Wish List: An iPhone app/wearable device that combines RunKeeper, Gain Fitness, The Eatery and LARK’s sleep tool to manage personal health from one product. We think Fitbit is coming close and anticipate the release of the My Basis watch for a tool that aptly combines almost all of these functions.

2.  Crowdsourced Dieting: With the introduction of experimental dieting apps like The Eatery and Jawbone’s UP interface, we’re beginning to see that calories are taking the back seat to photos and user feedback for diet monitoring. From apps that allow you to rate how you feel following a meal, to those that allow the users’ friends to weigh-in on a meal choice, it seems like crowdsourcing feedback socially on what you eat is more effective than counting digits, unless you keep that chocolate mousse a secret.
Wish List: A Jawbone UP band that still works after two weeks. #FAIL

3.  Regulatory Implications: We’re glad that the FDA finally weighed in with its recent draft guidelines for pharma doing social. Depending on whom you’re talking with, it’s either too little or it’s just what the industry ordered. We’re somewhere in between. But as the industry looks toward social for further engagement, we see it as only good sense that the FDA step in with clearer guidance—faster.
Wish List: We’re listening, FDA! Move!

4.  Glocial Health: Pharma’s going big investing in emerging markets, and there are significant challenges—communication, regulatory, skilled workforce, and more. We see communication with a spectrum of stakeholders as crucial to pharma’s success, including consumers, HCPs, and government representatives. And, we know these emerging markets are using social networks and are highly mobile.
Wish List: A brand looking to tackle international social marketing from one Facebook hub. Share your ideas; we’re listening!

5.  Health Reform: Even though President Obama uttered a mere forty-four words about healthcare in his recent State of the Union address, we see this as a driving discussion among candidates and legislators as we enter election season. Expect that discussion to play out across social networks, and watch how candidates listen and participate in those exchanges.
Wish List: Meaningful social discussion and common-sense legislation to help us, the people and patients.

What are you looking forward to or anticipating in healthcare this year? Share your thoughts below or email us at to share!

By Daphne Swancutt

Updated Harris Interactive Logo 300x153 Healthy Behaviors Not Improving. Who’s Accountable?

A recent poll from IMRE conducted online by Harris Interactive reveals some sobering data. Bottom line: The more things change, the more they stay the same.

At the highest level, the survey shows that two-thirds of adult Americans admit they don’t live a healthy lifestyle all the time. The primary reasons aren’t surprising: Time, money, and that living a healthy lifestyle at all times is just not a priority.

Call them excuses, but it seems that despite a national push for greater attention to getting and staying healthy, increasing healthcare costs, and obesity and chronic disease epidemics that are sucking the life out of us, it’s just not resonating.

So, what can we do about it?

First, consider that this is—or will become—everyone’s problem. Whether you’re an individual, an employer, a school, a government organization or a nonprofit. Everyone needs to buy in to the fact that problems don’t fix themselves, people fix problems. This particular problem needs hoards of attentive and motivated people.

We’ve been in a collective conundrum about all of this for decades. Some argue that making individuals more accountable for healthy behaviors is key. Maybe. But what about the folks living hand-to-mouth, with language barriers, who sacrifice medical care for a trip to the grocery store or their children’s education? All the talk about making health a priority isn’t translating well to these groups, much less the groups living with fewer such challenges.

As a communicator, I am dumbfounded. If starting a national movement focused on motivating healthy behavior is truly a priority, we are failing. So, here’s my prescription:

Government: Get your rear-ends out of process perdition and come up with solutions that inspire, rather than endless tripping over administrative bureaucracy.

Employers: Give your people a break. We’re a national mess of stress, and we know about the outcomes. Stress leads to depression, leads to overeating, leads to lack of motivation, leads to little exercise, leads to diabetes, heart disease, etc.

Schools: Seriously, start talking to students the minute they enter the system about how important it is to be healthy, and everything they can do to make sure that they develop healthy behaviors. Give them the tools to educate their parents, too. Kids can actually do this. It’s like “teach your parents well.”

All others: If you’re not talking the talk, then start. If you’re talking the talk and not walking the walk, you’re part of the problem. Set an example, encourage, show your stuff and put your money (not junk food) where your mouths are.

As health communicators, we need to push harder for a seat at the big table. Then we need to advocate strongly for a more aggressive point of view, total engagement, messages that are delivered repeatedly in language that is understood, and action that truly motivates.

We’re at a crossroads here. Consider taking the road less traveled and bring some people along with you.

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