How Jennifer Schultz is growing OU Medicine through efficient patient acquisition and a centralized marketing team

Jennifer walks through the details of how she and her team are increasing patient volume in a big way this year!

How Jennifer Schultz is growing OU Medicine through efficient patient acquisition and a centralized marketing team

Speaker 1: Welcome to the Ignite Podcast. Where we help marketers and CEOs learn the latest tips and tricks to help ignite growth in their business. This isn’t your typical marketing podcast. We push beyond platitudes to deliver you real-world stories from the trenches. Are you ready to learn? Are you ready to grow? Are you ready to have fun? Well, then buckle up because you are about to enter the Ignite Podcast.

Alex: Hey everybody, welcome to Ignite. I could not be more excited to have Jennifer Schultz on the line. She’s the SVP of marketing at OU Medicine. I can’t wait for her to walk us through the biggest challenges, trials, tribulations that she has going on, and what she sees happening in the future of healthcare marketing and consumerism. This is going to be a really exciting talk for all of us healthcare marketers out there. Jennifer, welcome to Ignite. How is your day going?

Jennifer Schultz: Well, thank you, Alex. Thanks for having me. My day is going great. It’s a sunny, beautiful day in Oklahoma City, and it’s a Friday afternoon. So, life is good.

Alex: Can’t go wrong there. I don’t want to spoil the surprises, you’re a celebrity in our healthcare marketing space. You’ve been all around the block quite a few times, have quite the CV. Walk everybody through, how did you get into this fun medical marketing space? Where did it start?

Jennifer: I always say that I fell into healthcare marketing. It picked me in a very big way. I responded to a little square newspaper ad, of all things, about being a marketing assistant at a senior living community, when I was right out of college. I was really needing a job, and decided that that seemed like a good idea to apply to it. Just several interviews later, I found myself in healthcare. It was a difficult transition, as a young 20 something, to be in a business that is a life and death business. I found myself, after a few years, having the healthcare bug because it’s work that matters. That’s how I started out, I started out in senior living. I did business development and marketing.

Alex: Yes, I love how you put that, work that matters. That’s something I’ll take back to my team too. Responding to job ads in newspapers. Guys, I don’t know if that still works, but that’s pretty awesome. Okay, we started at senior living, we’re now at OU, but there’s a couple things that happened in between, walk us through Avera, and then how we ended up at OU?

Jennifer: I have been very blessed with a couple of different types of healthcare marketing roles. I found myself actually, in the publishing industry within the healthcare space, another print space, as a group publisher of a title called MD news, which is still in existence today. It’s just really been disrupted and reformatted because of the digital world. That really gave me this national healthcare perspective. I was responsible for the healthcare conversation inside of that publication, end-to-end, in three different markets in the upper Midwest.

I had a pretty big client deck, as you can imagine, and along the way, I started to really see a viewpoint being shaped by myself, personally, around healthcare consumerism, and where healthcare was going. I decided that I really didn’t want to be inside of the B2B space, with physician referral, and that I needed to be in something that was more oriented around the healthcare consumer.

I moved into one of my clients. I moved to Avera, and I started out in a health care sort of marketing strategy position, with that organization. I was there for six years, and I was very blessed. I was promoted into two different positions, one where I oversaw all of the marketing strategy for Avera medical group, and then ultimately, the longest role I had when I was there was the vice president of marketing position. We were an in-house marketing group, still are, wonderful team, hats off to the Avera team, will always have a place in my heart for them.

In that position, I oversaw all of the marketing strategy in our go-to-market initiatives, as well as marketing communications including physician communications, internally. All of our branding and the day-to-day marketing operations of the department because we were an in-house agency. I spent six years at Avera. Along the way, I ended up getting a MBA at the Carlson School of Management, at the University of Minnesota. That was a very transformative experience for me, it has given me a lot of opportunities. Eventually, found my way to Oklahoma City.

I’ve been at OU Medicine, it will be one year in May. Took their role to head of their marketing for the academic health system, which is our Health Sciences Center on the university side, and a local nonprofit 501(c)(3) on the hospital side. The transformation and integration of those two entities becoming an academic health systems. It’s quite exciting, we’re in a very entrepreneurial startup phase of the concept of being a academic health system. There’s a lot of things to build, and a lot of things to change, and a lot of things to do. [laughs]

Alex: A lot of things to do. Do you have a team supporting you there? What does your team look like at OU?

Jennifer: We actually just reorganized this team. This team was in verticals, and very decentralized. We now are working across the horizontal, is what I like to call it, where we are a centralized strategic marketing function. We are in five functional buckets or pillars, I like to call it, where we have a marketing strategy team. They act very much as an account executive type of a team. We have a team that focuses on external and internal communications, we have a team that focuses on community partnerships, one that focuses on all things digital media, and then we have a creative shop in-house, that’s small but mighty.

That team, I’m a big believer that healthcare marketing function really needs to be aligned with the healthcare consumer, and then also support the strategic direction of the organization. The healthcare consumer, they travel through healthcare across the horizontal. They aren’t thinking about us and our structures internally, they don’t think about healthcare in a silo, a vertical silo, so we are structured to fit their journey.

Alex: I assume that that is different than a team that is structured by service line, right? Is that how a lot of health systems are doing it?

Jennifer: I would say that we still look at service lines. The marketing strategy group is then dissected into service lines. We do look at service lines. I would say that it is different than thinking about a health system marketing team by local business units. A lot of my peers and colleagues across the industry have organized their departments into this functional model that is not about local, but is about specialization in the horizontal.

We are really looking at how we model ourselves as a best in class marketing function. When I looked across the country and tried to do some comparison around how we should be structured in relation to our peers, we are now more in alignment with best in class structure, than being decentralized units where you’re a generalist inside of, maybe, the physician group, and you’re a generalist inside of a hospital. Instead, we’re specialized.

Alex: Yes, it’s bringing it all together so that it’s a seamless experience for the patient, right? That’s the end goal of this integration?

Jennifer: Exactly.

Alex: Very cool. Do all of these business units roll up to you?

Jennifer: Yes, they do.

Alex: All right, very cool. Tell us what’s going on. You said there’s a lot of building happening. This is an exciting year, 2019. It sounds like you’re a creator. You’re a builder. You want to experience new things, and take this university to the next level. What are the big initiatives this year, that you guys have going on?

Jennifer: The big initiatives that we have going on, really focus around key areas of marketing, and they focus around growth, and also creating a strategic marketing function that supports the organization into the future. When I think about that, there’s five big categories that I have been focusing on since I came to OU Medicine. The first one, of course, that I’ve mentioned is making sure that form follows function, and the structures of the marketing function align with what the needs are of the organization. Building the team to have true operational infrastructure, from a marketing standpoint, is a key area for us.

That is where we are looking at things like a digital build, we’re looking at things like project management tools, the structures in which we can support a marketing operation. That’s one. The second one is really looking at our relationship with the media, and how we can proactively plan with our media partners, and flip the media relations paradigm that we’ve experienced historically. Really wanting to make sure that rather than being a reactionary function inside of the organization where because we’re the state’s only level one trauma, all of the media that we have is reactionary to that.

Instead, we are utilizing our expertise as the only comprehensive academic health system to have our physicians talking in the market proactively about all things related to health. That’s the second one. The third one is around our brand, and really looking at our brand through the lens of a healthcare consumer, and understanding how they think about us, and what their recall is around our brand. We’ve done a lot of market intelligence in that topic, and have a lot of information from the consumer, about what direction we should go.

I always say the consumer is the boss, and their perception is the reality. We have to actually align ourselves with that. The third one is brand. The fourth one is marketing of our services. Really looking at those key front doors, and the areas of the organization that are key revenue centers, and looking at how we can grow those areas. We are in the middle of strategic planning right now. We’ll wrap around those areas via the strategic plan.

The fifth one that I’ve mentioned, which is one that I’m very passionate about, and very focused on right now, is our marketing technology build. Looking at a modern healthcare consumerism type of a website, implementing the tools that we need to support very, very targeted digital strategy, where we are truly building what I call an N-of-One relationship with the healthcare consumer, where they’re engaging with our organization through a variety of platforms. Part of the pieces that come along with that will be things like content strategy, a really robust newsroom that has a very strong digital footprint, and things of that nature.

Alex: Well, just a few things going on there, Jennifer.


Alex: That’s a ton. You came in almost a year ago, and instead of rushing to start executing on things, you said, “Let’s take a step back, let’s take a look at things, let’s do the research on our consumer, what our brand is portrayed as in the community, and let’s build the infrastructure so that we can go to market our service lines in the right frame, but make sure that our team has the infrastructure and the systems it needs, with the right platforms and website.” Was that the approach? You came in, observed, did the research first, now you guys are really going to start taking your message to market?

Jennifer: I think there’s really been maybe two phases of my approach. The first one was knowing that the structure of the team was not going to fit the needs of the organization in the desire to become an integrated academic health system. In order for me to make that case within the organization, and to move that forward, I actually wrapped the team softly around some key initiatives, and had them operate in a different way, which happened to be a reflective of the structure that we are currently in. It demonstrated, internally, that we could do marketing differently, and it could be more effective.

We did select a couple of key initiatives. We are the exclusive partner of the Oklahoma City Thunder, which is the professional basketball team in the region. We had rolled that partnership out. Of course, OU Athletics is a powerhouse in the nation, really, for sports, but OU football is a really big deal here. We are a key partner with them. We rolled out partnership pieces for those two groups. We also focused in on how we could increase our digital efforts around driving traffic into our website, start us in digital initiatives for the first time ever in the organization.

Simple things like demonstrating how effective pay-per-click advertising is in the healthcare space. We also did go to market with two different services. We are the state’s only freestanding children’s hospitals, so we had an integrated campaign for the children’s hospital, we also are the state’s only NCI designated cancer center, which puts us in the top 2% of cancer centers nationwide. We did do a campaign around breast health as well.

Those are some of the things, in my first year, that we focused on. Now, as we look to the next phase of bill, now that the team is all in their new spots on the team bus, I like to call it. Now that we’re all in the new space, we are starting to focus on the infrastructure, and the other items that I had mentioned around digital build, and marketing of our services.

Alex: I love it. We got the right people in the right seat, and you have your program. I love hearing about the Thunder. Man, if they kept Harden and Durant on the team, we would be talking finals [crosstalk].

Jennifer: [laughs]

Alex: I digress. Okay, going back, we’re a digital marketing agency, we focus on SEO and search. It’s so interesting to me that I’m hearing this is the first year that we’re running paid search improving the model out. That’s wow. That’s awesome. Okay, you come on board, and we’re starting to prove that out, let’s talk, since you love digital marketing as well. What did that look like?

For all the health systems out there, and medical groups, individual practices, we run into it all the time. They don’t think paid search works because they’re so referral driven. How do you get them over, thinking in the past like that? What did you do to get the leadership team on board, and then how did you prove it out in a small way before you started scaling?

Jennifer: I think one of the biggest pieces is helping your leadership team understand why you need digital marketing in the first place. Partly, why you need digital marketing in the first place is because you have to be where the healthcare consumer is at. You have to back up from the digital piece, and start to talk about the healthcare consumer first, and really start to define, for the organization, how you even get a new patient. The way that you get a new patient is different than the way that you would have someone select your restaurant for dinner. The reason I say that is because healthcare is about need and access intersecting.

Today, it’s Friday afternoon, most people in my market, as with every market across the country, they’re not thinking about me from a healthcare perspective. They’re actually thinking about where they want to go for dinner tonight, or that they need to go pick up the kids from school. When you think about it through that lens, you start to try to ask the question of, if need isn’t happening all the time, because a lot of the times, especially for an academic health system, need is a major, major life event, then how do I actually look at need and access intersecting to acquire a patient? I start out by talking, really high level, around access from the marketer’s viewpoint.

Access is about me building mindshare within that space of the healthcare consumer psyche and how they think, and then also building a relationship with them, where they’re engaged with me, where they see me as the expert in such a way that when the need point comes, I’m top of mind for them. Taking it a step further around access. Access, from a marketing perspective, is then when the need is arising, they can find you.

That is where the entire digital deck, for a healthcare marketing, comes into play. Where things like reputation management, mind listings, a paid search, all of that starts to come to life when someone actually starts to engage with finding their solution because they have a need. I start out there, and when you build that particular case, you start to have people that are in other executive roles inside of the organization, see that digital advertising or digital marketing strategy is not just some social media posts. Seeing that there’s actually– The entire foundational piece of what you would build your marketing strategy on.

I look at digital as the nucleus, and everything that I’m building around it, like if I were to do television and billboards, none of that matters if I don’t have that nucleus in place. Articulating that inside of an organization is, I think, critical before you can even move into the key elements of, what is digital marketing strategy? For us, really helping people to delineate between the idea of digital health or digital medicine, like telehealth as an example, that is something that sits, maybe, in a different functional area of the organization, but we are heavily intertwined, and we interface quite a bit.

Digital marketing is something that sits inside of my area, and kind of defining what it is. Helping people to understand that, as an organization these days, everyone’s on the digital team. There’s digital operations, there’s digitization inside of finance, there absolutely is that in every single key area. It’s really understanding that you need to own your space. If you’re in marketing, absolutely, you’re in digital. Then understanding too, and helping the organization see that digital is not a trend, it’s not going anywhere. We have to actually think about it through that lens, and understand that it’s a critical function to even be able to be at the table with the healthcare consumer.

Alex: Yes, absolutely. I love that. Where need and access intersect. I think you broke it down in a really great way, from a high level of how do you get the leadership team on board. It sounds like the results start trickling in. Okay, we’re showing up, we get us the nucleus, it’s where billboards and TV, everybody goes to do their research in their time of need, they go to search in the end, but you have the brand recognition. Jennifer, what are you doing to prove the viability of the campaigns? What metrics are you delivering back to the leadership team every month? Are you working with agencies that will help craft my question a little bit better? Who’s running your paid searches? An agency or in-house?

Jennifer: Just thinking about digital and where we’re at, we have partnered with an agency in Oklahoma City, for a number of years, and they have run our digital advertising. We get reporting every month, around the effectiveness of the complete digital suite that we are utilizing from a paid standpoint, but I always tell people that that’s just one component of success metrics, inside of a campaign. If you only look at a click-through rate, or the impressions, or what the engagement was on a social media post, and you don’t look at it through a bigger lens, you’re actually missing the complete picture of what’s going on.

For us at OU Medicine, we are at the beginning of the digital build, where we can start to build out in concentric circles, the tools that prove the effectiveness of the digital media buy, as an example. From that standpoint, you hear in healthcare all the time, “How do I demonstrate ROI?” Or you’ll have a C-suite that says, “We don’t understand how this provide a value to the organization because marketing can’t provide us with a report around it.” The reason for that is because there are critical components inside of a digital build that really require commitment from the organization.

Not only is there the digital media buying piece, and the social component that comes with it, but it’s a very robust website. It’s things like online scheduling. It’s having a customer relationship management tool that your EMR is feeding into, so that way you can actually show the downstream. It’s setting up all of the catchment points for a healthcare consumer to say, “Yes, I want to register into this healthcare consumer class that you’re offering at your local coffee shop.” Now I have their name, and I want to funnel that and feed that into my system, I want to sign them up for content every month.

Those are all of the types of things that you need to build out, to be able to prove that. I always say that the way a marketing department matures in the healthcare space, is you start out with those very tried and true marketing metrics that, at some point, will start to feel like vanity metrics, as you get more sophisticated, because you need to build each piece of that digital puzzle, to get to the point where you can say, “The downstream revenue charges of the patients that went to the class on cooking for colon health, into our colon health program, looks like this.” You can provide a number.

That’s going to take us several years to get to. I’m anticipating a digital build for us is going to take us probably about three years, but ultimately, that’s the roadmap that we’re on.

Alex: I love it, and I love that that’s the major initiative there, to try to spend the next three years getting the downstream impact. That’s very interesting to us. That’s the technology we’re building around. Getting the EMR to feed into the CRM, that’s huge. What CRM are you guys using?

Jennifer: For us, we actually are not in a CRM, which I think other health systems can probably relate to. That is not an area that we’ve had clear focus on, in the past, as an organization. We’ve had several technology hurdles that have prevented that. We are moving in the direction of being able to implement a CRM, but that is going to be after we implement a new EMR system.

I think one of the things that’s critical about moving into the space where you’re actually thoughtfully planning your digital build, and you’re looking at CRM, you need to be heavily partnered with your Chief Information or Chief Technology Officer, having their support and buy-in around the topic, which I’m very lucky, I have that buy-in and support here at OU Medicine. Then there’s looking at what types of components are critical to success inside of a CRM because there’s a lot of people that you can partner with on this topic. I think that it’s a space where the switching cost is really high, so you want to really be thoughtful before you enter into a CRM engagement.

Alex: Yes, there’s quite a few options. We were at Dreamforce last year, and Salesforce is making a big push in Healthcare Life Sciences, their HLS division. I like the integrations that they have, and then you have health grades as well. It’s a good CRM, but it force you to use all their tools as well. I love the thinking that you’re going down. Jennifer, I need all healthcare marketers out there to hear this, that you’re looking to get a CRM, that you’re looking to connect it to the EMR so that you can measure downstream impact. That’s huge.

That’s what we find on every one of these podcast interviews I’ve had with VPs and CMOs of big medical change. This is the biggest problem all of them are having. How do we prove the success of these campaigns? It’s very cool to hear that that’s something that you’re encountering as well. Jennifer, you’ve had a lot of big wins at OU. You’ve been there a year and you’re setting the infrastructure. In your past, you’ve won tons of national awards for Healthcare Marketing Excellence. Now, at OU, what would you say you’re most proud of? In the last 12 months that you’ve been there, what’s most exciting to you?

Jennifer: I think, for me, at the end of the day, healthcare is work that matters, which I had mentioned. For me, I have been in healthcare long enough that I tell people that I’m much more of a healthcare executive, than a marketing executive at this point. I have the bug, so when I think about that, I think about our patients. What I am most proud of is that we have done a better job telling our patients stories in the media, in a proactive, positive way, then having trauma one be the area of focus in the media.

The patient impact around how we’re telling the story is a really big deal to me, and that’s mostly because that takes me out of that marketing hat, and puts me more in the, I’m in healthcare space, and that’s the kind of thing that really, really matters, and that’s not about digital, and it’s not about an ad or anything like that, it’s about our patients. I think that’s one of the things that I’m most proud of, is that we’ve changed the way in which we do that work.

I think the other piece, for me, is that I have not been an individual contributor in the marketing space, in a number of years, where I’ve been leading marketing teams, and layers of marketing teams, and complex systems, and things like that. So, when I think about the other piece that I’m the most proud of, it’s really the team, and how we have moved the team into a space where they truly enjoy their work, and they feel like they get to specialize and be an expert in something. Leading the marketing teams is one of the things that I’m most passionate about, about the work that I do.

From that standpoint, I am very excited, and most proud that I have the team in the right place, as far as the work that they’re doing, and the roles that they’re doing, and now we’re in a space where it’s about coaching and teaching them to be their best at the work that is at hand for them. Whether that’s being the best digital media director, or the best director of communications, or being the best writer, that’s the thing that I’m the most proud of, is that we’re actually in a space to be able to do that more effectively.

Alex: Yes, Jennifer, you sound like a great team builder, and I love that what matters most to you is really improving the community and population health. It’s so cool that you’ve changed the perception from such a reactive trauma center, to really bringing the stories and testimonials to life, there in your local community. That’s phenomenal. If you look out, I’ve got one more question for you, and it’s always a future-facing question.

If you look out over the next few years, you’ve got your road mapping on downstream impact of the marketing activities that you’ve got, we’ve got telehealth, we’ve got consumerism healthcare happening, what would you say is going to be the biggest trend, on your roadmap, as things move forward? What are you most paying attention to, and worried about, thinking about, or planning for?

Jennifer: This is an interesting question that you’ve asked because it has actually shifted a little bit, for me, having come to OU Medicine and being in academic health, I am actually amazed right now, looking at academic health in this country, and the incredible value that academic health systems bring, how critical and essential they are, and that this is really where the training of our workforce of the future is coming from, and I believe, misunderstanding that the healthcare consumer has around what you get when you come to an academic health system.

The thing that I think about is the clinical growth of the academic health system, and being the leader in that space, which, for some academic health systems, is not historically necessarily how they thought about the world. It’s this idea that because we’re an academic health system, when you look out over the healthcare workforce of our region, you can say, “Wow, we’ve actually trained about 60% of the healthcare workforce in this area.”

That means that we should be the first choice for the clinical delivery of healthcare for a healthcare consumer, but inside of academic health historically, we’ve always thought about it through an educational lens, and so when you think about it in that way, you actually miss the leadership around the clinical space that you absolutely should step into, and own completely. If you’re going to do that, then you as an academic health system, really need to move into healthcare consumerism in a very robust manner, because the way in which you grow your clinical is by meeting the healthcare consumer where they’re at.

Historically, academic health systems might think about themselves within these highly specialized subspecialty areas, and don’t necessarily think of top of the funnel activity, but with the way that healthcare is trending and moving, that’s absolutely a space that you need to be in. Being in that space, from a marketing perspective, actually contributes to the mission that you have around education. Growing clinical contributes to that because clinical can drive the system. I think about it in a very different way than I think I probably would have if you would’ve asked me this question a year ago. I don’t know if that makes sense, but-

Alex: It makes a ton of sense.

Jennifer: – that’s a little bit my new world. [laughs]

Alex: Yes, makes a ton of sense. Clinical drives the resource, the information, the revenue, the academic health system needs. It’s incredibly important with consumerism coming out. This is something everyone needs to pay attention to. Leadership teams out there, listen to Jennifer. It’s a matter of time. Don’t get left behind. Jennifer, any parting words for the Ignite listeners?

Jennifer: I think the parting words that I would leave Ignite listeners with is that, healthcare is such a dynamic, exciting space that’s disrupting every day. Every year, there’s some kind of a new disruption that’s happening inside of this space. I think the thing that I would leave with Ignite listeners is really that we’re all in this together, of navigating in the industry that is a major, major focus as far as the country is concerned, and is something that is essential in the lives of the people that we serve. When you combine the essentiality with the disruption, you really get a career that has layers and layers of possibility.

When I think about that, people always say, “You have so much energy around this. You have a lot passion for it.” It’s really easy to have energy and passion around those two ideas. It’s a life and death business that is essential to our country, and then combine it with something that is very complex and is also disrupting, that is a lot of excitement, and there’s a lot of magic that you can find inside of that. I would just encourage the listeners to really dig in and enjoy, and own the space. When you think about the actual marketing of it, it’s truly marketing that matters.

When you think about how a patient interfaces with us, when the rubber meets the road, I’m passionate about getting my message to those individuals because it can be a matter of them getting that second opinion or not. It can be a matter of them getting the screening or not, and those are the things that really make a difference in the lives of those people.

Alex: I love that. Then one day we’re able to prove how many people got that screening, and ended up getting the treatment that they needed. It’s just going to make it that much more fulfilling. We have a mission, personally, at our company, of getting 100 million people healthy. The only way we can do that is by proving how many patients actually came from our marketing campaigns, not leads, not traffic, not visitors. I love that. Great parting words, Jennifer. Everybody out there, this is marketing that matters. You heard it here from Jennifer, such an exciting interview. Thank you so much, Jennifer, for being on Ignite.

Jennifer: Thank you for having me, Alex. Have a good one.


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