Gain guidance on the top trends impacting patient acquisition by viewing a round table hosted by Cardinal Digital Marketing, with some of the nation’s leading healthcare marketing experts.

Hosted By:

Alex Membrillo, CEO of Cardinal Digital Marketing
Kelly Hammons, Executive Director: Business Development at Cameron Memorial Hospital
Amanda Howard, Director of Marketing at CityVet
Blair Primis, SVP Marketing and Talent Management at OrthoCarolina

Watch the Recording:

Quotes From the Round Table:

“We’re now in full tilt with online scheduling. We now book online for every single location, every single physician, and every single physician assistant.”

“You’ve got to be easier to use.” I don’t think that [requirement] will end even if we get a vaccine and things go back to normal, shouldn’t [healthcare providers] still be easier to use? That is going to be our focus and our approach [in 2021]: being easier to use as a business for healthcare consumers.”

“I think as an overall trend for 2021, we’re going to see a lot more one-to-one conversations with chatbots and central messaging. The more that we can do that, the better. What people want is that connection and immediacy, and AI-powered solutions are going to really change how we do that.“


Read The Transcript:

Alex Membrillo: All right, looks like we are Live. Let’s see if we’ve got everybody streaming in here. Let’s give everybody a minute to get settled. Hey, everybody on this, we’re so happy to have you. I posted in the chat discussion. That’s where you’re going to put your questions for our three phenomenally innovative and intelligent panelists we have here today. Feel free to go to the chat and post them in there. I like to crank things up and we’re going to have fun. We’re going to give away Amazon gift cards. This will date this get-together here. It is December nine 2020 and Fauci says the vaccines are going to be administered in weeks.

I believe this guy. I believe him. I don’t care if it dates this webinar, but that’s where we’re at and we need some positivity to spread. We’re going to be giving out a bunch of money live Amazon gift cards, all you fine healthcare markers on the line. Another fun thing I like to do, we’re going to have polls going throughout this to get a gauge on what all of you great people out there are planning on investing in terms of digital marketing. We’re going to ask about patient volumes and how you’re faring [unintelligible 00:01:12] questions a few months ago, and I got interesting responses. I’m going to keep that going and learn more from all of you.

Once again, feel free to put your comments, questions in there. I will check them periodically. If I find one of them to be interesting or relevant to the topic we’re talking about, I’ll go ahead and propose it right in the middle of things. It looks like we’ve got three people in here. Let me check a few things. Guys, let’s get cracking. Three phenomenal panelists could not be more exciting. We’ve got a mix of hospital experience, specialty clinic, dental, urgent, everything you guys can imagine. Regardless of what healthcare organization you’re in, or subspecialty, or health system smaller, big, we’ve got you covered here, between Kelly, Amanda, and Blair. They’ve worked in just about everything. They’ve also been to the dark side and worked at an agency. It’s why I’m aging so fast and they’re not.

We’re going to have a good time and in typical COVID fashion that [unintelligible 00:02:18] who I know some of you were excited to see. He had something come up really last minute and Kelly has stepped in to help us out. She has run the marketing for one of the largest not for profit, if not, they are the largest Parkview health largest not-for-profit in Indiana, and now runs the marketing and biz dev for my favorite Hospital in Indiana. We’ll talk more about that later.

Quick about Cardinal before we get to our panelists, which I know you all would prefer to hear from. I actually started the agency 12 years ago. You can say it’s all my fault. Ever since we started, we had focused on healthcare. We brought on a primary care with just one location still a client to this day, 12 years later. I’m really passionate about helping patients find the right providers, not the right now providers. We only work with the best groups in the country, excited to be doing. This picture was taken pre-COVID. We’re actually double the size and it was only taken nine months ago.

Copy here for the world digital marketing agencies, I think had done okay and the thing I’m most proud of is we won the Best Places to Work this year through a pandemic. We didn’t lay off furlough or reduce pay for a single person in this company instead went on the offensive and doubled the team so proud of that and proud of the clients that we have on our roster, everything from a 2 location to 2000 locations, smallest to biggest healthcare groups in the country. That one in the middle, what’s that Kim? Oh my God, Kelly? Yes, very proud. [unintelligible 00:03:53] one part is okay Amanda. That’s us in a nutshell. Let’s get to it. Kelly, tell me a little bit about yourself.

Kelly Hammons: I’m Kelly Hammons, and I work at Cameron Memorial Community Hospital. I’ve been here for about two years previously at the Parkview Health System. The unique thing about Cameron, we are a critical access hospital that serves a small community in northeast Indiana.

Alex: I love it. Expanding digital, a big thing this year going on the offensive. Something very interesting about Kelly guys. What do you have in your repository over there, Kelly?

Kelly: The vaccines. We’re going to be administering if all goes well, our first vaccine on Friday the 18th and we will be offering that to the entire northeast portion of Indiana. We’re really excited about that.

Alex: I love it. We will get no politics on this one whether you want it. Hey, if you want the vaccine, Kelly’s got it.

Kelly: Come on over. [chuckles]

Alex: [chuckles] So, so cool in the same calendar year. The medical marketing marvel that this is, same calendar year, we found the disease and are inoculating people against it. Absolutely amazing guys, it took 10 years for polio, and still have problems with that release. Very cool. It’s a cool year to be in healthcare to have seen it all go down. I couldn’t be more proud, couldn’t be more proud of our medical technology. Amanda, what’s going on from CityVet?

Amanda Howard: Hello? I have been in healthcare for some time. I’m actually now in the veterinarian space which is very interesting. The patients are a lot cuter because there’s dogs and cats and guinea pigs and things like that. I was in the dental space prior to this working with you guys at DentalOne. Before that, I was at Tenet Healthcare which is, I think, the third largest healthcare provider country, and ran their marketing strategy. Before that, I was at an agency. I’ve done a little bit of it all. It’s interesting how, no matter what type of industry you’re in, what your vertical is that, putting your patients at the center of what you do goes across all platforms. I think that’s what makes us good marketers who want to do that?

Alex: Yes. We all had to be put on the spot this year of communicating the ways that patients could access care and changing and getting out in the brand and making sure all of that having crazy gear. Hey, real quick, what do you like better, agency or client-side?

Amanda: Oh, they both have their great things. I don’t know if I’ll ever go back to an agency. You guys work so hard.


Kelly: [unintelligible 00:06:50] easy to sit in. [chuckles]

Alex: I’m tired all the time. Thanks, Amanda. Happy to have you on Mr. Blair from Carolina, he’s a Panthers fan, don’t hold against him guys.

Blair Primis: Hey, guys, my name is Blair Primis. I work for a company called OrthoCarolina. It’s based in Charlotte, North Carolina. We’re a multi-specialty orthopedics practice. As a private practice, we’re probably in the top four or five in the United States in terms of size. We have 45 office locations, 165 surgeons and about 1800 full-time employees for specializing in just muscles, bones, and joints where I like to wear a large doctor’s office, to say the least. I’ve been here, gosh, what have I been here? Almost 11 years or so. In that time, we’ve more than doubled our size.

We’re benefited by this area, the country has seen a lot of growth. It’s been fascinating as a marketer, not just in healthcare, but marketing, in general, to see how you can maximize and do your best to try to retain as much of that patient volume when people move into a town when your brand really doesn’t matter because they’re brand new. It’s been fascinating for us to do some of that. I consider myself a Panthers fan. I’ll pull up over the home team, I’m actually from New Jersey originally. I have some allegiances up there but for the most part, I’ll be a Panthers fan.

Alex: Neither way you go. Is there much difference?

Blair: There’s really nothing to root for.

Alex: Hey, I’m a Falcons fan. We’re not [inaudible 00:08:31] here either. Welcome. That’s crazy growth, Blair, and everybody’s going to be looking forward to hearing how you guys did it and how you pivoted this year in something in an industry very much driven by injuries. People aren’t playing sports. We’re going to talk about how you guys have pivoted. Oh, God, this was only taken two years ago and I look so different. This is the agency to look out here. We’re stopping this presentation, y’all don’t want to know about me anyways. Guys, we’re going to hit the polls. I know y’all are tired of the polls this year. We’re going to hit the polls. I’m going to start a poll. I want to know the top channel you guys are investing in in 2021. We’ll see if that aligns with our panelists. I’m going to leave it open for a while. We’re just going to get started with the Q&A.

Kelly, when the pandemic arrived, we had Cameron quickly pivoting, change to urgent care, to respiratory clinic to serve a community, how’s the public’s response? Did it help strengthen Cameron’s positioning? I know you guys were trying to make sure that everybody understood in Angola that you guys are a one-stop-shop? How did all these pivots pan out? Have you felt like it’s helped your positioning and your reputation long term, or some of these pivots we’re doing were kind of band-aids if you will?

Kelly: Sure. Operationally, it’s really indescribable the amount of work and dedication that my co-workers have put into, in particular, our respiratory clinic and our response to COVID. I would consider it a little bit of a blessing in the middle of this curse because as detrimental as it’s been, it was really a great reminder to our community, in particular, of the work that we do daily. Nurses and physicians are heroic regardless of the pandemic or not. We’ve had a significant outpouring of support, which has been just a really nice reminder, I think, all around.

The clinic that you mentioned, we opened that up in the course of less than a week. It was an all-hands-on-deck effort. Through that clinic, we’ve been able to service 3,600 patients. [crosstalk] What’s interesting is many of those, it was their first exposure to our system. We’ve got people that were, otherwise, not accessing care at Cameron interacting with us for the first time. We even had lots of people that were bleeding over the Michigan borders based on our well-managed response.

I would say, all the stakeholders in our community were really forced to recognize how important it is to have local care and have a rural hospital in times of need such as this. I don’t know how familiar everyone is, but last year in Indiana, we were really at the forefront of a national conversation about high-cost healthcare. The rhetoric was largely about greed and overpaid physicians. That’s long since dissipated, which has been just a silver lining through this pandemic.

Alex: Good, now we value our physician. Maybe the tagline on Cameron’s website is actually going to be, “So good, you’d come from Michigan.”

Kelly: Yes.


Or I’m a Hoosier, so I’m going to say, I guess, “We’ll take care of you Michigan.”


Blair: A pity, out of pity.

Alex: Some of these things that you put in place really helped. They were the gateway to Cameron and got a lot of people familiar with you guys and helping at a time of need. I guess that’s why all the health systems are going and gobbling up all the urgent care just really the way in. You guys took advantage of that, really smart pivot, and kudos to your team for moving so quickly.

Amanda, this is crazy. You come from DentalOne, the best dental group in the country, obviously, and then you start at CityVet in June of this year.

Amanda: [crosstalk] Yes, it’s very [unintelligible 00:12:33].

Alex: You got crazy, good timing on that one. Tell us about that. You come from very advanced marketing companies. Where was CityVet and their experience and their marketing expertise? Where is CityVet and what were some of the first things you took upon yourself in the first 90 days there?

Amanda: We have had the benefit of really growing by word of mouth and reputation and the brand here in DFW. We’ve got 17 clinics in the DFW area. The growth has really been organic up until this point, which is great. From a marketing standpoint, my job was to come in and really take us to the next level and work on client acquisition and growth in that aspect.

One of the most important things I think you can do is show your value as a marketer. I started building a marketing dashboard, setting our KPIs for our campaigns, which we think are really important. Also, we are really starting to look at holes, what are we doing that our clients don’t know that we’re doing that they should know. I think it’s a little further beyond just building a dashboard but really looking at our overall client experience because I also started, like you said, during the middle of a pandemic. It was really taking a look at that experience like, “Do we need to be doing telemedicine? How can we reach our clients with the technology that they’re looking for and the experience that they want?”

That was another important part. I think, really building a relationship with operations because I think when you’re really trying to grow, it’s looking across all the data that you have and saying, “Okay, we have a new campaign. We’re going to start running this. What is the appointment lag time? Can we get clients in?” Because if you don’t have your doctors or COVID or whatever reason it is, and you’re trying to drive volume but you don’t have access, then you’ve got waste and your conversions are where they should be.

There’s been a lot to do, but I think we had great data here and a great team. It was really just trying to figure out how we can visualize that data. I use Google Data Studio to show that. I think there’s a lot of technology out there that marketers can use to pull in their data from Google Analytics and their campaigns and then also pull in those data points that are [inaudible 00:15:19] a new client volume. You’re really meshing those up and looking at them on a dashboard.

Alex: You came in and you saw, “Hey, listen, it’s not just good enough to drive conversions and know how many, but we also have to align that with whether there’s enough provider access. Do we have time and all of that stuff?” That’s something, as marketers, we don’t think about a lot. It’s just driving more leads, driving more leads, but is there the capacity and supply on the receiving end? You’ve aligned those. You’ve got everything piping into a dashboard. I’m sure that providers are excited to see this that we’re matching supply with demand.

Awesome to come in there and start putting the data together. That’s the first thing I would also recommend to a lot of you out there. It’s like don’t start flying blind to do a marketing campaigns if you don’t know what the hell they are yielding. All right, very cool. Mr. Blair, oh, I’ve got exciting stuff on these polls. We’ll release that in just a moment.

This was interesting. We wrote an article recently on the backlog. I was reading all about this surgical backlog that we have, and we created this giant e-book on it. Very interesting to see that people were delaying. Even though elective care was on the shutdown for X amount, people delayed going and getting their ACL repaired, et cetera. Have you guys experienced a lot of this backlog, or what are we doing to catch people up or keep patients happy while they wait?

Blair: Yes. Absolutely. We’ve experienced a lot of the same thing. It’s been fascinating. You’ve seen a little bit of a bump. We were shut down for about 50 days. Health department shut down by 50 or so days. You had some folks that were urgent or had some a cute thing. If you can’t walk from your bed to the bathroom, you still need to come in for your care, because you just simply can’t get there. A lot of the shoulder injuries that would be elective, or wrist pain, or knee pain that hurts when you jog but doesn’t prevent you from jogging, a lot of those would have been delayed.

What’s interesting about that is, most overused word maybe in 2020 is, we pivoted our marketing to actually create how to work out and be healthy at home. We spent a whole lot of time talking to our physicians, physical therapy guys, physical therapy team about having content that’s there that makes them, in a weird way, continue to work out so they can maintain the type of lifestyle they had before. We saw a big decline in those patients. Almost immediately, when we were able to bring patients back, it was like a hockey stick almost, straight back up.

Now to some degree, Alex, it’s leveled out to some degree. That’s what we’re working on now is, how do you continue to talk about being active in the marketplace, exercising on our greenways, continuing to ride bikes? How can you stay healthy at home? What are some things you could do in small groups or separated by them? How do you challenge yourself to run a virtual 5K once a month?

We’ve been very active in trying to create local partnerships and/or content that still encourages physical activity, still is pretty keeping our finger on the pulse in terms of what we can do with social distancing and things of that nature and attaching our brand to it. I would say, we’re doing well, but I wouldn’t say that we’re actually doing spectacular when it comes to matching previous patient volume.

I think I would sum it up to say that, overall, as a practice, we’re at about 90% of what our volume would have been knowing 90% because the social distancing is now 100%. We can’t ever get to do 100% because we’ve got to maintain that space. We have screeners. We’ve got to only so many patients in the lobby, only so many employees in the hallway. At the end of the day, I think it’s turned out well for us, but it’s not been without its challenges.

Alex: It’s a good thing. I remember last time we spoke was about a year ago. You had put a whole online scheduling system in a [inaudible 00:19:20] a lot of these things you got ahead of the times. I’m sure telehealth was happening for you guys at that time. You got ahead of it. Something, Blair, I want to talk about later not quite yet is the integration with the EMR that you have with scheduling, the trackback we’ll get technologies at the end. I want to make sure to stick around because I found that fascinating, and now you’ve had another year of data on it. That’d be cool to get updated.

Guys on the polls, I don’t think you guys can see the results, so I’ll read them out. In 2021, what’s the top channel you’re investing in? Number one, 36% of the vote, Pay Per Click. [laughs] Rich will be excited to hear that my SVP immediately. SEO, I love it, 31%. Paid Social, 21%. Email, 0. Really guys? TV and radio five. Traditional marketers, direct mail 5%, direct mail works. It doesn’t benefit me to say that but direct mail definitely works, PPC then SEO then paid social. I got a lot of digital marketer on here. We have an interesting question here. Betsy’s asking can you provide a tip when two of your surgeons contract COVID and you must clear the clinic days and or/or two or days, surgeons contract COVID and you must clear clinic, how do you do damage control? What do you do when you’ve got to quickly pivot? There Kelly [inaudible 00:20:39]

Blair: I’d be curious to hear what you do as well, Kelly. We’re not immune to this. We’ve had providers contract COVID, many practices in hospitals, and so a couple of things. One is we immediately contact any patients or any staff, and we do all of our contact tracing as quick as we can, and we contact them ASAP. Then we will do our best. Again, this is maybe a benefit of size, so it may not apply to everybody else. We can actually rotate physicians and or physician assistants from other locations into those offices to backfill those patient logs.

If the question is really more around PR damage control, the answer is transparency. Hiding is not the way to go. The answer would be “Listen, we’ve had a provider.” and there are still privacy rules, so we have to maintain privacy. We’ve had a provider test positive, they are quarantining now for the required amount of time. We’ve done some contact tracing. We’ve cleaned, we’ve sanitized, we continue to take temperatures, we continue to ask pre-screening questions, we call you beforehand with your appointment as well, we even will sometimes text you, and tell you to stay in the parking lot, if the office is overcapacity. A couple of things that we put in place.

We just try to reinforce all that we’re doing to prevent you and anyone else from getting it and that we stay transparent with it. In the beginning, people were maybe a bit hesitant because everything was so new. This happened to us also. We had a TV van roll up to one of our offices like, “Rumor has it one of your docs has it.” Looking back on that now I’m like who hasn’t had it. [laughs] [crosstalk] it’s so everywhere now, it’s not a big deal that a doctor has it or a nurse has it. Just come out with it say that it happened and be upfront with it

Alex: Exactly. Nothing. No shame in it anymore we’ve all adjusted. I’m sure Ravens fans weren’t happy with Lamar Jackson hey–

Blair: [crosstalk] This is what happens.

Alex: My next question guys is going to be, oh, thank you for that question Betsy Golan. We’re going to get you out an Amazon gift card 25 bucks. Kat, let’s make that happen. Thank you. Hey guys, I got my next poll, and I want, oh, everybody’s already answering. What are your current patient volumes? I wanted you all to go answer that before I have the panelists, because if you hear them all say that we’re higher than ever, and you’re not going to answer. [laughs] Let’s go over there. Amanda, heard things going to CityVet, largely impacted unimpacted, or we’re doing like parking lot calls [inaudible 00:23:15]

Amanda: We are, it’s very interesting right because our patients– We don’t necessarily worry about catching COVID from them. When it first hit, we split into 18 teams to make sure that we were minimizing the risk among our teams. Then our patients or our parents were in the parking lot dropping off their pets, and we had people going in and picking them up. It was about figuring out a way that made sense for us and helped our teams to feel safe while we were still able to see clients. Now, we did have a dip, but then we’ve been able to come back from that. I definitely think it’s about communication with the clients.

With any of us, that’s the biggest hurdle, you feel like you’re over-communicating sometimes about what’s going on. Your clients still don’t understand how to do the drop-off or the pickup or the waiting in the parking lot until it’s their turn, and wearing their mask, and doing all of those things. It’s across the board is making sure that you’re making your clients feel good but also that your team feels like they’re being supported, so they’re being safe.

Alex: Being looked after it’s going to be interesting when this is over, and patients can come back. They’re going to go no I want to go back to my car. [laughs]

Amanda: It’s very interesting. Some of our lobbies are open, and we do give our clients the option if they want to do curbside pickup they can do that or if they want to come in and talk to their doctor about what’s going on, they can do that too. It’s really just about giving them the option and meeting them where they are with what they need to make them feel safe.

Alex: Kelly, how are we doing now that you have the best agency [chuckles] in the country? I know how things are going now? Talk about the variety through this year. How are patient volume where we dramatically affected negatively in March and April, May have we rebounded, where are we slow, where are we doing well, and which specialty groups.

Kelly: Interestingly for us as a critical access hospital we’re not for profit, we don’t experience these large margins. Canceling elective surgeries and closing down our clinics for a solid five weeks was detrimental. We were really terrified to see if anyone was ever going to be able to have the confidence to walk back through the doors, not only in our facility but just across the board. A lot of our peers were experiencing the same fears. What’s been really nice is that we have really seen most of our volumes rebound. Obviously, our inpatient numbers are higher than they’ve ever been.

Simply from a capacity perspective, we’re holding a lot more patients than we would have normally triaged and transferred. On the clinic side, we’re largely back up to pre-COVID volumes some even exceeding pre-COVID volumes, where we’re really seeing significant gaps is just the patient motivators as it relates to just annual checkups, wellness visits, and things like that have been pushed to the side in a lot of cases. We have had a little bit of difficulty convincing patients that it is now okay and safe for them to return. In order to combat that we’ve just really started offering a lot more options as it relates to telehealth for patients.

We tell them we’re safe to come see when you’re ready. If you’re not, we do have virtual options for you. Either way we just are encouraging the community to make sure that they’re still seeking care. So far so good. We’re approaching. I don’t know if it’s the same around the country, but we are approaching the largest surge that we’ve had since the inception of the pandemic what that looks like at the end of this is to be seen.

Alex: We don’t know yet. That’s interesting. I’m glad to hear things are rebounding. It’s what they call what they said right along winter the next 90 days is going to be tough on patient volumes and everything else but glad to hear, that was a scary March and April. You guys have rebounded in a lot of good ways. Blair, 100% growth over the last 10 years driven. We’re driven largely by sports injuries. How have we made up for or fared or are any certain lines you guys have the urgent care for other to get the sports interest back? How are we doing?

Blair: We’re doing well. We’ve had isolated weeks. Believe it or not. Kelly was saying that actually outperformed pre-COVID weeks, but in general, every month is a little bit off from that month, the previous calendar year. Having said that, March was bad, April was really bad. Anecdotally the worst month in the history of our organization in April. Having said that, June is a little bit better than May, July a little better than June and so forth. As you sit here today, we’re getting pretty close to getting back to the levels we were at pre-COVID 2, 3, 4%, some weeks 1%, one week subtle little differences.

I think what’s helped us get back there is– It’s funny Amanda was touching on this, be careful what you market if you don’t have physicians available because then the thing you’re marketing is really crappy. Come get the new iPhone.[chuckles] Only kidding. It’s not available for another month. [chuckles] Same thing in medicine. Come be seen. It’s a 35-day wait to see that doctor why the hell are you marketing to come see him. What we’ve been benefited by is we’ve had availability, because the scale of our organization and the number of providers, 300 some odd providers provides openings now at a degree to which we’ve actually never really had before, and so even though we are seeing potentially lower overall new patient volume, total volume is actually pretty close, because the time to be seen has shrunk, because the number of providers that are available to see patients is the same.

If the volume is down, but the wait times are less, we can actually see more patients. It’s through physician assistants, it’s through newer physicians. We this august still added 11 new physicians leaving fellowship, and so I continue to build that out. We’ve expanded our urgent cares during this time. We actually went to daytime hours at two of our locations fully walk in. We’ll talk a little bit about online scheduling but we started that about a year ago. We’re now in full tilt with online scheduling. We now book online for every single location, every single physician, and every single physician assistant.

You don’t ever really need to call or candidly, you don’t even really need to come to our website. If you go to the Google page associated with that group and hit schedule now, you’ll just be able to book directly into our system. I think it’s going to help us get back to where we are. A positive number would be rockstar, but flat would be almost as exciting.

Alex: Yes. The good news is no other ortho group’s doing better. You’re not going to lose your surgeons to other groups because the whole thing is hurt. [inaudible 00:30:43] silver lining and it has forced us to all adapt so quickly now we’ve learned more about the urgent care and expanded that and a lot of things, these things will stick next year. Another little silver lining I’m hearing from all of you is because there’s less volume, the patients are getting more attention and more care from the providers when they’re being seen. That’s not a terrible thing for a year for people to get a little bit more attention.

I’m used to seeing the mid-levels and stuff which is great. Current patient volume seems stagnant, down a little bit, up a little bit and that’s symbolic of what I’m seeing here in the numbers. Lower than typical volumes 53% of you guys said you’re lower than typical, about the same 23 higher, about the same. Higher and about the same 46 or so percent lower, we’re down. I asked this question five months ago, 90% were dramatically down. Things are getting better. One way to look at it I guess.

We’ve got some really good questions here I’ll send one in here. I don’t know if people just want Amazon gift cards here but anyways nonetheless. Here we go, from Rachel Saucerman, “Have you all developed any long-term tracking strategies that help you measure the value of content marketing knowing that those patients don’t necessarily schedule right away but it may influence their choice later? Is there any tracking solution to know the down stream effect if you will?” How do we know? Or what do you guys look at?

Blair: Any sort of robust attribution I assume is what the question is asking about, absolutely. I think a couple of mechanisms you can, I might suggest you consider. One would be to see if they can subscribe to your newsletter. It was interesting to have them doing email marketing because I am super bullish on email marketing. For what it’s worth I’m a big email marketer. One of the things we will do is a lot of our long-form pieces we call them explainer content, if we go deep on, and bear with me like cartilage or spinal stenosis and if we get a decent amount of engagement on it we asked folks if they would like to subscribe to our newsletter for more of this type of content.

Even though you know it’s seven to nine to eleven percent take rate, that’s a measure to me that that piece of content is going to be continually effective for that patient and the odds are they are suffering from that condition or there’s something curious about it that they’re asking for more content. If you have a way to either capture either a short form, do you want more info? Do you want us to send us a video? Put some way on your content to capture if they’re interested in more of it.

My gut tells me that’s a really great way to show some kind of attribution. The second thing we have and I’ll go back to it is the ability to schedule online. We actually have a make your appointment button now on every piece of content that we have. While it’s not a huge click-through we do see some folks that will ingest this content and then decide to book directly from an article. To me is just indicates that if you take the sum of its parts and if that rate is 3%-5% but you need the 5% to a 100% find which pieces of those content get you close to the hundred and then add more of that content to your site with those links and hopefully you’ll find more attribution to it. [unintelligible 00:34:13] a couple I might just mention.

Amanda: I would also say that it also depends on what industry you’re in. If it’s [inaudible 00:34:19] to the decision making time. I feel like in orthopedics you’ve got a little longer decision-making time [inaudible 00:34:22] in dental it’s fine needed [inaudible 00:34:25] dentist typically it’s urgent care type of medicine. It also really depends on your industry as to how long it is from the first touchpoint to when they make that decision to book. Do you think if you have that longer-term, you’re in this long format content where they’re getting educated deciding what type of surgery they want, there are lots of options. If you’re in dental a root canal is a root canal. Now it’s like where am I going to go to get that done? How much pain am I in right now? How quickly do I need to do that?

Blair: That’s a great point. Where are they in the funnel? Again, if you can’t go from your bed to the bathroom because you can’t get out of it, you need to be seen now, but if you’ve been lingering with shoulder pain some sort of minor tear for months or years I don’t know why you would all of a sudden decide to go during COVID. You’d be like, “You know what, I’ll just wait. [inaudible 00:35:21] You’re right, you’re absolutely right. There’s definitely a longer lead time for where those folks are in that funnel.

Alex: In dental the more immediate need type services dental and urgent care being the two I’m most familiar with, email maybe not in the nurture not as necessary on the front end. Amanda is it necessary for reactivations? Should these more quick type specialties should be maybe using email a good bit for reactivation getting people [inaudible 00:35:49]

Amanda: I love email for pulling like client lists with open treatment plans and having them in a nurture campaign to reactivate them so we would set up campaigns that were automatic that had been every month open treatment plan meaning you were recommended a treatment for you and you decided not to do that that day or you didn’t book your appointment. You would start into an email campaign, bring you back in so hopefully you would schedule.

Alex: I love it. Let’s just talk marketing. I got another question we might get to it. Let’s keep going in that bang. What are we using? Have you guys personally built out all of these automation? Are you using something sophisticated like a Marketo or a product or Rex or Constant Contact or Mailchimp without sophisticated automation sequences? Hey, if they’re a client, they go here, if not, they go there. How are you guys segmenting or how detailed are you getting on your email?

Blair: Go ahead.

Amanda: I hopefully soon will be at CityVet [inaudible 00:36:54] to make sure that we are automated we reach out pretty manually right now with our client lists. In the past, yes I’ve used a lot of different platforms like Marketo. We had one that was specific to the dental space where it did improvement reminders and confirmations and we were also able to pull [inaudible 00:37:14] that was really specific to the dental space. There’s lots of great ones like Hubspot and things like that. I do think it’s worth the investment, because you can reactivate a client. It’s a lot easier to get a [inaudible 00:37:35] probably.

Alex: It’s a lot cheaper to have them come back in. Thanks for that. We’re going to send you an Amazon gift card, everybody loved Rachel’s question. Everybody loved it. Nancy was thinking the same thing. I like that. Hey, you guys are talking about lead nurture. Kelly are we handling most leads or leave what do we do with the initial follow-up? Is it an actual person doing the personal follow-up? Or do we have automated lead director work for us to get people in or how do you guys handle that at Cameron? Is it personal or is it automated?

Kelly: Dependent on the clinic, on the outpatient side. In any of our practices it would be personal and then the hospital side you’re going to see more of the automation.

Alex: Brand awareness and education of the market this year. What were the main tactics you switched to this year and then we’re going to talk about what you guys see in the next year? What were the main pivots marketing tactically wise this year that you started with? Blair we’ll pick off things with you.

Blair: It’s not really that sexy, but we found tremendous results with it. We just started producing more video. We put out an RFP for almost more of like a cinematographer, if you will, like legit filmmaking stuff. We created a six part episodic series that just ended actually last week. We called it The Orthopedic Anatomy Series where we put out six 90-minute essentially episodes all around different parts of the body that featured physicians, we did deep dives, we did case studies, we used cadavers and all different parts of the body.

We did one for each main section and actually we’re in the process now of creating like if you will almost like a Netflix style page where you can choose which episodes you like and stuff on our website. The idea would be to how do we create to your point exactly- you don’t know when somebody’s in the orthopedic funnel need for orthopedic treatment. The idea would be how do we create long lasting broken into smaller segments based on either case study or spotlights. We may do a case study on hand anatomy. We may do a spotlight on carpal tunnel or what is trigger finger, something like that. Video, we took a lot of time to dive into video, and then we spent almost an equal amount of time figuring out how to distribute it, because the greatest content in the world is–

Alex: You have to get it out, and I wish we could all afford videographers. That’s a nice thing to have. How did you guys distribute it? Did you just get along to the website, and then we transcribed and hope that Google [unintelligible 00:40:12] Facebook does.

Blair: There’s going to be three main approaches there. Again, I’ll go back to email. We have been very diligent in collecting emails for patients. Our database is pretty massive, a couple 100,000 patients, a deep of a database. We distribute all the content via email. We obviously use some of the normal things social on that, but we actually put paid dollars against it on YouTube and Facebook. Lastly, we submitted– We do a weekly partner newsletter, where all of the marketing or media partners we have about 85 or 90 of them, every week, we’d send them a newsletter telling them what we’re going to talk about that week.

That way, they know, as their partner, what it is we have been focusing on, we asked them to do that. When our episodes come out, old-fashioned term, old-fashioned nominee, agency term here, we roadblocked all of our content when these episodes come out. We ask our partners to also share the episodes being released at the same time. We’re doing email, same time we’re doing digital. So far, we’ve been pretty successful. It’s in the eclipsing 20 some odd 1,000 views for the whole series. We’re feeling really good about it.

Alex: That’s good. It’ll be there forever. It’s not even a COVID thing that’s useful forever. When I tore my ACL, I read and watched everything. Hold on one second. Guys, the webinar platform’s having some trouble. If you’re getting choppy or frozen, just press the green reconnect button at the top of the screen to refresh. Anybody that’s listening.

Amanda this year, do we need to make some marketing pivots, one thing working better than the other? Anything changed with how the consumer wanted content? Tell us about it.

Amanda: I think that video is something that I would talk about as well. We have the approach of a little more stackable content that is build a little more user-generated. I think that you can make really great content and video, and it doesn’t have to be overproduced because that’s what people are looking at on their phones as they’re scrolling, but it feels organic people also are really more likely to watch.

We will be getting into video. I will say, I’ve been doing a lot of groundwork right now with CityVet. Another interesting thing is, we’ve opened up two clinics this year. Typically, we would have a big grand opening event, where we bring in the community and introduce our doctors and that has not been a thing that we’ve been able to do its virtual events and introducing them online.

We really haven’t done a lot of traditional media. We really focused our dollars on digital. I think when you have a smaller budget, you should really focus your money on areas where you can actually make an impact and not spread yourself too thin. Just really focusing and digital consumption is up so much because people are on their phones a lot right now. That’s really where we’ve been pushing our money is to digital.

Alex: Yes, I like hearing it. I wonder if that trend is going to continue. Well, we’ll talk about trends in a little while but moving to digital and getting your most effective CPAs as possible. I think traditional and over the air and all that stuff has a great place in the world once your digital is taken care of because the CPAs are best there. Kelly, how do we get the message out? Any marketing tactics that were big for you guys this year? Your website, full of great videos. I know you believed in that, and it was a big piece of how you guys position yourselves there in Angola. What else this year did you find yourself pivoting through?

Kelly: Obviously, a really, really weird year to be a healthcare marketer. It’s very odd, obviously, to ask people to stay out of your facility, which we found ourselves doing early on even on the hospital side. Initially, really and throughout the pandemic PR has been a huge focus for us. We obviously hold ourselves to a little bit of a different standard simply because we are the only healthcare option for a lot of people that live in and around our area. Educating them, getting appropriate information out, having consistent supportive messaging from other entities was really important for us.

We comprise a county-wide task force that included representative from all the local schools, a local university, EMS, the local board of health, all kinds. Even actually local media, we invited them as well, we just wanted to make sure that we have the most organized and supportive response across the board because we thought that would obviously help us diminish some of the confusion. PR was huge.

We obviously really expedited our expansion of our telehealth services and started marketing those pretty aggressively in really every single way that we could all the way down to calling patients individually from our offices. We’ve also really capitalized. We’ve noticed that we had a lot more captive audiences, especially during the shutdown. We had a lot more increased interaction on our social platforms. We really beefed up content there as well.

Alex: Let’s talk more about telehealth. Everybody pivoted quickly, “Hey, we want to make sure we can see, we can see, we can see you as soon as possible.” We see what some of our DSOs, our big dental groups.” It’s still not a huge take rate, even on the initial console with some of our clients. What is the take rate as a percentage of first time visits? Are you guys finding that telehealth is being utilized extensively as it going to be a need to have in the future? Amanda, what were you seeing? What do you think is going to happen with telehealth? Is it still going to be all the rage post-COVID? [crosstalk]

Amanda: I think that it’s one of those things where it’s going to become what people expect to have as an offering, but I don’t know if people are still going to want to use it. It seems like it needs to be there. Especially in the dental space, we were starting that, I don’t know why [unintelligible 00:46:41] right before I left. It’s talking about like, “Well, how is somebody going to treat me and really educating a client of what to expect on a telehealth visit?”

At CityVet, it’s very interesting because we use telehealth, but it’s in a way where the pet parent is in the parking lot on the phone and the pet is with the vet. You still have that hands-on experience of where they’re actually examining. The telemedicine part is very different, but I do think that it’s going to become a patient expectation. I think as marketer, it’s going to be our job to educate them on what that experience is, so we’re setting those expectations.

Alex: Absolutely. It’s got to be an option, but it may not be the most viable one for a lot of people. I think for PCP, if my kid is sick, or I may have something or urgent, I think it makes a lot of sense. Blair, for ortho, you tear your ACL, you need to go, and it’s [inaudible 00:47:44] I can’t tell you everything. What it feels as a total percentage of patient–

Blair: It’s very small. I think like everybody, in March and April, it spiked. We had very, very, very small take rate on telemedicine beforehand, and all of a sudden it was everything. The reality is in orthopedics, you can’t get an X-ray over your laptop, so you got to come in. What we’ve found is that we’ve actually altered our offering to now be very specific to the type of visits. We’ll now see you either for something that is post op. I can show you my knee incision if I can put it on the screen. How is this healing? It looks okay.

It can be used for post op. It can be used for referrals. We can actually have a referring primary care doctor, telemedicine to our doctor with the patient in their room. Our physician can be seen as a extender to that visit, which would be cool. The third option would be for something acute or after hours. Admittedly, it’s more of a peace of mind visit than it’s really a treatment visit. It’s like my kid got hurt on the soccer field, their knee is swollen up. It’s 9:30, nothing’s open, but I can see somebody either from my phone or over the screen and at least just be reassured that it’s not something terrible that they have to go to the ER.

That’s really where it’s nestled out for us. It’s 1% to 2%. It’s very, very small take rate.

Alex: So small but can be useful for the post care and things like that. I had to go in for so hours waiting for the provider just to check, everything’s fine. Yes, knee is still weak. I don’t work out enough, like we got it. We could have done something.

Blair: We know enough now too to know that it’s probably going to be okay. If you’ve had hip replacement surgery, and it’s been six months, and you’ve had no issues, your six-month checkup, you’re fine. You’re going to be fine because if you’ve had an issue, it’s happened before six months. Why need that person come in? They can just come in and show us the incision. Seven minutes, they’re done because 99% of the time in six months, if you’ve had no pain, and you can walk, you’re fine.

Alex: Love it. I love it. I’m going to do a quick-hit question, yes, no, very fast answer, and then we’re going to get to one final trends question All right, budgets up or down for ’21. Kelly up or down?

Kelly: Up.

Alex: Yes. Amanda, up or down next year?

Amanda: Up.

Alex: All right. I love it. Blair?

Blair: Up.

Alex: [unintelligible 00:50:13] everybody fires, we’re in a pandemic. You guys heard it, don’t back off and I’m getting a lot of chats in here. A lot of people saying they’re going back to direct mail since everyone is home. That’s interesting. Infusionsoft and HubSpot seem to be big CRM and marketing automation tools. Lots of good stuff happening in there. All right. Let’s talk trends because we’ve got nine minutes and I want to get to a few more audience questions.

We’ve talked about some of the pivots you made this year, let’s assume vaccine somewhat in place three to six months from now. How are you guys treating that? Are you assuming vaccine is coming or we’re going back to the things we used to do with traditional direct mail, what are you guys– Are we seeing anything you’re going to do differently next year or a big trend, all these great healthcare marketers need to know about Kelly, what do you see next year?

Kelly: Well, I think the pandemic obviously changed healthcare forever. I don’t think we’re really clear yet as to what the new normal will look like across the board, but as it relates to marketing, Cameron, we’re really looking to just capitalize on our new found admiration in our community. We want to now invite those that otherwise wouldn’t have considered Cameron to experience us in other areas of care that maybe they wouldn’t have previously considered.

We are looking at actually pivoting and doing a full new branding campaign and re-introduce Cameron to our market. We have grown from a critical access trust hospital adding a medical group in the last four years with upwards of 38 providers that we’ve brought on board in that time. We’re ready to take that sophisticated step into more of a Cameron health kind of system type.

Alex: Yes, so not reacting to the pandemic, this would have been the business course anyways I like that. Not pulling back, not changing. This is the business strategy you had and maybe it delayed things a little bit, but moving forward and promoting those 38 providers and trying to change the perception of how Cameron is known in the local area. I like it. Amanda, what are we looking at for next year? The budgets are up, what are you thinking you’re going to invest more in, what should all these great marketers be doing?

Amanda: Yes, well I think what I’ve always done and what I will continue to do is plan for the year and then look at the quarter and meet every quarter to check in on how we’re doing and then monthly adjust. First-quarter is going to look very similar to what we’re doing right now and then once we get to second-quarter if our clients are wanting to come in and we’re able to open up all of our lobbies to do these things and have grand openings then we’re going to shift then.

I think as an overall trend for 2021, we’re going to see a lot more one-to-one connections with conversations and chatbots, and central messaging, and the more that we can do that, the better. What people want is that connection and that AI-powered solutions are going to really change how we do that. Continuing to watch that is something that I will watch in 2021 but right now I think we’ll continue to really focus on digital and our digital presence and what the client journey looks like online.

Alex: Interesting. An AI-powered technology and the conversation pieces are part of the digital equation, right? The chatbot is automated or not, they help get questions answered faster.

Amanda: We have them on our website and we really like it. It’s really a great way for [crosstalk] [unintelligible 00:53:51]

Alex: All the [unintelligible 00:53:51] are handled by someone.

Amanda: They are handled by our front desk team.

Alex: Really?

Amanda: Yes. Then after our messages, but we have a chatbot on our website and so you make an online appointment, but also the nice thing is you can talk to them about what’s going on, to know whether it’s urgent or not urgent and we can assess and have those conversations and you can book an appointment completely through that.

Alex: I love it. I did not know that everybody go to Don’t mess with Amanda. Don’t be asking weird questions because [unintelligible 00:54:25]

Amanda: I don’t get the messages. If you want to book an appointment though in [inaudible 00:54:28] come on down, we’ll get you in.

Alex: I love that [unintelligible 00:54:32] especially we don’t want to call if you let us schedule through the chatbot. Blair, we’ve got on my schedule and you rolled it out a year ago, you’ve got it tied in with the EMR so it’s backed up by the actual providers’ schedules, are you tracking marketing all the way through? Is that a trend, do you want all of our great marketers listening to look more in acquisition next year or so?

Blair: Yes. No, absolutely. We are lucky we have it all the way through so we can see from the minute they engage with your ad all the way through booking an appointment, we can track it all the way. What’s been great is we’ve been able to both do almost like a multi-variant AB testing, right? What you can do is you could figure out, is it the marketing that’s driving them to the option to choose online?

Then once they’re booking online, is there something in that process that needs iteration? Sometimes the two meet, sometimes they don’t meet and sometimes they’re in isolation. we learned a thing or two for a while, we were requiring insurance type. Then we took out an insurance type and we were requiring tight age ranges for physicians. Then we went to wider age ranges. Then we separate them by location and we need physicians. We’ve learned a lot in terms of making the user experience simpler.

Our big thing to lookout for ’21 is– and I’m just going to say, man, I love chat. We’re dabbling with chat. Now we’re piling it, one of our offices through billing, but we need to be at online chat. We have to be there. We can just solve one agent having three conversations versus one agent having one conversation and we could automate so much of the process. One of the things we’re really leaning into is how do we become easier to use as a business?

One of the things that as a consumer I found frustrating as hell during COVID is you want to see if the restaurant you wanted to pick up your food from is open, they never bothered changing their Google, My Business Page. It still said they were open and in fact, they were not. It says to me like, “You’ve got to be easier to use.’ I don’t think that will end even if we get a vaccine and things go back to normal, shouldn’t we still be easier to use? That was going to be our focus and our approach is being easier to use as a business for consumers and patients.

Alex: Marketers. When I heard there, us marketers, b you were ahead of the game with the online scheduling, the EMR integration, and now chat and everything. I mean, no matter how innovative you are, how ahead you are, it never stops for us. I guess it’s job security these days with technology becoming a bigger part of our world but now you need to get into all kinds of new things. Guys, don’t stop innovating is what I heard from all three of these phenomenal marketers.

Thank you all for your questions. We’ve run out of time. Blair, Amanda, Kelly, would it be okay if they have questions, Blair if they want to see any of your attributes at the end of the scheduling. Kelly, the PR plans, and how you partner with your B2B liaison if they find you on LinkedIn, is that okay and they send you a message?

Blair: That’d be great.

Alex: We get a lot of on-demand downloads for this in the future so if you get someone in six months that asked you don’t be creeped out.


Amanda: That’d be great. We all help each other out.

Alex: Yes, we have to and it’s not just years like this. We all have to, healthcare is changing– Healthcare marketing. Healthcare is not changing as quickly, but the marketing side of it changing very fast. We’re at the forefront of it, especially you three. Thank you for joining us. I’m sure everybody had a blast. This was usually informative. We went off script and I think it worked really well. Everybody picked up the trends and what you guys did this year to pivot. Happy to hear business is returning to get back to normal. Let’s hope everybody stays happy and safe. Thank you all for joining.

Blair: Yes. It’s my pleasure. Thanks for having us.

Alex: Right guys. Thank you everybody in the audience. If you need anything personally, reach out and I’ll email you. You should all be getting the recorded version of this in the next day, if something doesn’t happen feel free to reach out to me and I’ll make sure we get it done. Okay. All right, guys. Have a good rest of the day.

Amanda: Thank you.

Kelly: Thank you.

[00:58:41] [END OF AUDIO]

Podcast available on iTunes

Alex Membrillo


Alex Membrillo is the CEO of Cardinal, a digital marketing agency focused on growing multi location companies. His work as CEO of Cardinal has recently earned him the honor of being selected as a member of the 2018 Top 40 Under 40 list by Georgia State University as well as 2015 and 2016 Top 20 Entrepreneur of metro Atlanta by TiE Atlanta, Atlanta Business Chronicle’s 2016 Small Business Person of the Year,and the Digital Marketer of the Year by Technology Association of Georgia (TAG).

Cardinal has experienced exponential growth under Membrillo’s leadership, being consecutively named on the Inc. 5000 list of fastest growing privately-held US companies for the last three years. Membrillo’s innovative approach to digital marketing has transformed the industry and delivered remarkable results to clients of all sizes and markets. He has been featured in leading national publications including The Business Journals, Entrepreneur, Search Engine Journal, and The Wall Street Journal. He has also served as an expert speaker for conferences including the American Marketing Association, SouthWired, and Vistage Executive Leaders, where he spoke on his unique approach to Millennial Management to over 400 CEOs.

Alex Membrillo Cardinal CEO