[00:00:01] Announcement: 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.
[00:00:32] Host: Hey everybody, I’m super pumped today. We have one of the superstars in the entire country of pain management marketing. This guy has won just about every award imaginable, from Marketing Executive of the Year to Marketing Campaign of the Year, Marketing Department of the Year by the Stevies and the AMYs, and the AMYs are tough to win, I can tell you that. We won a few and it takes a lot of hard work.
I’m really excited to have Matt Gove on the line with us. He’s not only super successful in the work he’s done for Piedmont and Grady health systems here at Atlanta, but he’s also a good guy. He sits on the board of Zoo Atlanta and he went to the best university in the country, Georgia State University. So we’re really excited to hear all of your insights. Matt, I’m not going to steal your thunder.
Matt, you’re now the chief consumer officer of Piedmont Healthcare, the best health system here in Georgia, but you started at Cousins Properties. Then, you went to Grady. How do you jump from real estate to healthcare? Did you have some kind [laughs] of life experience happen?
[00:01:34] Matt Gove: No. So, first of all, I’m really glad that this is recorded, because I’m blushing from all of your glowing introduction. So thank you for that. Thanks for having me. So how did that happen? It’s a pretty funny story. I won’t go into great detail, but I was at Cousins Properties as the senior vice president of marketing and other assorted duties, and my boss, Tom Bell, the CEO of Cousins at the time– This was in 2007.
Tom comes to my office and says, “We’re going to save Grady,” that’s it. “We’re going to save Grady.” Now I, being very sarcastic and sometimes a little too much of a know it all, I say to Tom, “You don’t know what you’re talking about. There is no way,” and typical Tom, for anybody who knows him said, “Shut up, let’s get to work.” That’s really how it started, and there is a backstory to that. It involves Tom and Pete Correll, who’s the chairman and CEO at the time of Georgia Pacific, and them deciding that this was worth doing.
From my seat, at Cousins, I worked on it for a year and a half or so. The Metro Atlanta Chamber formed a task force. The task force made recommendations. The full hospital authority agreed and the county commissions agreed to those recommendations, formed a private nonprofit to run the hospital. Created a board, raised $325 million from the Woodruff Foundation and other large foundations in town to recapitalize Grady.
Then, at the end of that 18 month process, right after Grady had hired a new CEO to run the place, Tom came back to me. I’m still at Cousins, this is late 2008 at this point. Tom came back to me and said, “I need you to go over to Grady.” This is sort of the book ends of the “We’re going to save Grady,” conversation. “I need you to go.” It’s one of those decisions- and I think everybody has these in their life, where they don’t really know why they answered the way they answered, because common sense would tell them not to do it, but I said yes on the spot, “Okay, fine. I’ll go do it,” and I didn’t know the CEO.
I didn’t know what job they wanted me to do. I didn’t know what they were going to pay me. What they were going to call me. But what I did know, is that all of us had invested 18 months to two years of our lives trying to save this important critical institutional asset for the city of Atlanta, and if I could be personally involved in getting it done from there, then, that’s what I was going to go do. Three years later, I was still at Grady.
[00:04:14] Host: You signed on without knowing how much they would pay you and just said, “I don’t care what you call me as long as you call me.”
[00:04:19] Matt: It’s funny, I would- back on it now. As I think about whether or not you would be willing to do that, right? Somebody calls you and says, “Hey, I need you to go work over here,” and you’re like, “Sure, whatever.”
[00:04:29] Host: Yes, that’s how important Grady is to Atlanta. A lot of people don’t realize that Piedmont, Northside, WellStar, they only grow because Grady is. They are absorbing a lot of that.
[00:04:36] Matt: At the time though it was the only level one trauma center in the city, and you can’t have major conventions. You can’t have Super Bowls. You can’t have the president visit, unless you have a level one trauma center. The idea of that thing closing was catastrophic, and I can’t imagine how it got to that to that point, but I can tell you I’m very, very proud of the work we did while I was there, and the team that was there while I was there. What they’ve done since then to continue to build on the success- and Grady is a great place, we are all lucky to have it here.
[00:05:13] Host: Yes, and Bernie I think is investing a good bit of money. You’re at Grady and then you see an opportunity at Piedmont. Piedmont was not what you’ve turned it into. It did not have this uniform branding. It was not this huge rehab marketing powerhouse. You were coming into kind of a scuffed up diamond, weren’t you?
[00:05:32] Matt: I looked at it this way. It’s funny to watch the evolution, right? Cousins was a publicly traded real estate developer where you really understood the mechanics of the business, and then Grady was a publicly owned safety net hospital. You’re like, “Hey, if I can get in here and help it work more like a business, then it’s going to be successful,” and then Piedmont is this sort of weird mixture, in a way.
It’s a nonprofit community on health system, but because of excellent management over the years, it had become really prosperous and able to reinvest in its communities and in the care it did. But you’re right, Piedmont, like every other health system at some point in its evolution– Many health systems still today think this way. The management and executive team at Piedmont, many of them I should say not all, thought of advertising as marketing, right?
All marketing is is just advertising. I think because of the work that we did at Grady, when we rebranded Grady under the tagline, “Atlanta can’t live without Grady,” we did this really- I think excellent brand campaign. Piedmont looked at that- and some of the other work that we’d accomplished during government relations, which also reports to me. They thought, “Yes, let’s get that guy.”
I don’t think they really had a sense of the time of what they were buying, because I believe, from the moment I set foot at Piedmont, which was late 2011, I believed from the very beginning that healthcare is the ultimate consumer business. Everybody has to touch us, and now at Piedmont I got a platform where I can really have the resources, and the reach, and the brand identity to go after it.
[00:07:34] Host: Yes, and go after it is exactly what you’ve done. You’ve needed a good bit of resource. You guys are putting out- you’ve put out over a 1,000 content stories, and I know you guys are running some great ad campaigns. Before we get in the nitty-gritty of all of that, where did it start? Before your running ad campaigns I’m sure you had some branding initiatives.
We see Piedmont, live better, everywhere. Is that somehow tied into the Piedmont way in trying to get uniform branding? Where did all of this start? What was the beginning for all our health system marketers out there?
[00:08:04] Matt: Where we started was trying to create a brand identity that addressed Piedmont’s desire to be a system and not just known as a hospital in Buckhead. When I got to Piedmont we had four hospitals. This is in 2011. Atlanta, Fayette, Newnan, and Mountainside up in Jasper. Piedmont wanted to be better understood as a system, as in addition to the hospitals, large employed physician practice in a growing Piedmont clinic, which is our affiliated physicians.
This idea, that we were a system, that we could expand who we are, we used that opportunity, the rebrand opportunity. I came in and they were primed and ready to do a rebrand. We used that opportunity to make a more consumer friendly looking field and messaging that better appeal to the average consumer. We did it. We changed the visual elements to make them warmer colors. We chose a mark that conveys this idea of a system working together, but as importantly, took that opportunity.
Everybody has it when they are on their honeymoon, and the organization took the opportunity to restructure the department, and to reclassify some of our spend towards more productive uses. We were spending a great deal of money on outsourced agency support for PR and other things. A little bit of outsourced content creation that really wasn’t working for the system very well, and took those resources, and expanded the size of the team.
So you definitely brought a lot of stuff in house that we were outsourcing. You mentioned content specifically, by doing that, we were able to create a content team that has now been able to supply Piedmont. It’s more than 1,000 stories that we use in all of the ways that you would expect. On our website, in email, on social, to help support campaign work and even in PR, to help tell our story.
That’s the beauty of where we are in communications generally, right? Just in our world, is that people are more comfortable having direct relationships with the brands and their content. We’ve been able to use that.
[00:10:33] Host: Something really interesting about the Piedmont branding and content is, you don’t make it about your technology, location, your size. So many health systems are getting caught up in these facets of their own business and forgetting this whole thing is really all about the patients. Piedmont, you guys have done a great job of really making it about the patient stories. Would you say it’s like a priority? If you go to the website, you see a ton of testimonials everywhere, was that an intentional focus? To make it all about the patient and getting them to live a healthier life?
[00:11:03] Matt: Yes. When you say consumer– I believe we’re the ultimate consumer business. You have to take it from the consumer’s perspective, the costumer perspective. That’s why it’s always the benefits of using Piedmont, the benefits of engaging with Piedmont, not the features. We’re not selling kitchen cleaner here, and even if I were selling kitchen cleaner, I would show a clean kitchen. I wouldn’t show the chemicals that make that clean kitchen happen.
We always want to help highlight the benefits of being a Piedmont costumer, and telling patient stories is a powerful and emotional way to get that done. But even in our messaging, in our mental health advertisement or marketing campaigns, it’s always around the benefits of using us. It’s never about the clinical excellence, it’s never about the biggest this or that. Because that’s not really helping a costumer understand what it feels like to use Piedmont and what they’re going to gain by being a part of our family.
[00:12:14] Host: Yes, and the consistency is huge. Everything from- and I’m a patient of Piedmont, so I can say there’s everything from scheduling, to doctor communication through MyCharts, all uniformly branded, it’s beautiful. If you talk to any physician here in town, associated with Piedmont or not, they’ll tell you that the uniformity and the branding is unparalleled here in Georgia. You guys have done a great job with that.
I’m in digital marketing, so I want to hear about the specific tactics that you guys have employed, and we’ve got a lot of health system marketers out there, spending a whole bunch still on radio, TV and outdoor billboards, and that drives me absolutely crazy. Not just because I want their money for digital campaigns, but because I don’t feel like that should be the only thing they’re doing. I feel like they should start the digital reinforcement with branding, but are you seeing that you guys are be generating a good bit of business from certain social- is that generating a good bit of lead for you guys?
[00:13:05] Matt: Yes, of course. There’s two aspects to this and I need- I have to explain the bigger picture really quickly before I get into the specific tactics. It’s too many health system marketers are viewing the world the way their physician leadership or administrators want them to view it, which is a very specialty-centric, hospital-centric, point of view.
The truth of the matter is not- data shows this very clearly. When you own the lower [unintelligible 00:13:38] relationship, and you own the primary care, urgent care, retail space, when you capture those visits at that end, people can- tend to stay inside your system of care, down to the highest acuity levels. It’s really true if you understand the way your business works, we do make much more of our margin, the money that sustains our business long term, allows us to reinvest in our care.
That margin does tend to come out of higher acuity procedures. Hospital stays rather high acuity procedures are happening in surgery scenarios and other prices, and I recognize that. But what I wanted to do, what we’ve been doing, is analyzing how did that patient actually get in to my system? Where did they start? Did they have a primary care visit in the 12 months prior to their admission?
So that we can follow them, and what we’ve come to understand is the vast majority of patients that go deep into this acuity- picture like a funnel, the vast majority of those started with a primary care visit. That episode of cares, started with a low acuity visit and that is the place, in our funnel, as I describe it, where patients actually act like consumers. Truly only place where patients truly act like consumers is in low acuity care, where they have a better understanding of what their condition is, or what likely condition I should say is, and the way that they would go about solving that problem.
I say all of that to say, you got to get them there to the top of the funnel, where– I say it all the time like this. Where they’re treating health care more like fast food and less like fine dining. It’s not a highly considered decision, it’s a retail business at that top end. When you go back to the original question, it’s important to view it in that context, because I can- yes, I can generate leads based on going after certain types of heart patients.
I can generate a certain number of leads and get a pretty decent conversion, at least an appointment conversion from that lead. But that’s a small number of the two million patients that we take care of. It’s a really small number, whereas if I focus more of my resources on becoming that choice at the top level, and then managing the network so that patients are able to stay in and get the best possible care from us, It’ll end up yielding the best return on our investment.
We still use digital as much or more than any other channel. Specifically search, we spend a great deal, like a shocking amount of money, on trying to own search. Because we know health care is one of those disciplines where people do a great deal of searching at the time of need. So we’ve got to be able to capture people’s attention while they’re there, but we’re also doing more and more these days.
Awareness building, both through traditional means, but also through digital, and so that things like Piedmont QuickCare, which is our retail clinics- most of which are inside Walgreens, that we know that the conversion, when people are searching for quick care specifically, it’s three times higher than the conversion if they’re searching for urgent care, Walgreens, retail care, whatever. We know that building some awareness of our retail clinic offering is going to yield much better results, as people are starting to search for the thing that they need for care.
[00:17:28] Host: Yes, that’s incredibly interesting, because we work with a lot of health systems and they’ll come to use with service line issues, that OB women’s health, cancer, bariatric, heart, need to grow. That’s an interesting approach that you said, yes that’s great, but really it starts with getting them in a low acuity care service, like primary or urgent care.
You guys are putting a lot of emphasis into that. Are you running a lot of- I’m assuming it’s search, but you must have also restructured the team. Because I can’t- I got to imagine that you have service line based expertise at that point, right?
[00:18:02] Matt: Sure, and we still do. The marketing approach for service lines is B2B. Keeping people, getting that heart patient from primary care to your specialist, to whatever procedure they need involves transitions from doctor to doctor. We have B2B marketing that helps support the flow of patients from physician office to physician office. We’ve a sales team, we have automated marketing that we do towards doctors, so we managed that, and I have a marketing strategy, two marketing strategies, and all they do is focus on service line growth.
Helping manage that. But that’s not the consumer focused approach, the consumer focused approach is helping make sure that we’re present at that time of need. When they need us at the low-end. If we can intercept some focus along the way, great. But I think It’s a critical error that health systems have been making, and it leads to ethic overspending on service line marketing. If you just stop for a second, take a step back, build your data and analytics team, so that you really understand your business–
If I give one piece of advice to anybody who’s in a health system marketing role, and is listening to this right now, it’s make sure that you have the data and analytics to support the decisions you’re making. That it’s not doctor preference, administrator preference, your preference, your gut. There’s too much data available about our patients, how they flow through our systems, who they are, where they are. There’s too much data available for us to be relying exclusively on our hunches, or on anecdotal evidence to make marketing decisions.
[00:20:04] Host: Let me follow up on that, that’s interesting. You get them in a primary urgent care, are you tracking them from campaign type, let’s say from Google or Facebook or whatever it may be all the way through, so that you can attribute [unintelligible 00:20:14] the marketing campaign or type?
[00:20:17] Matt: We’re trying. Our systems are imperfect. We can’t do that with every single patient, but generally speaking, yes. I’d like to tell you the beauty of digital is that you can actually track these people. [chuckles] You can actually track your leads. We do track leads through conversion. It’s harder though on the lowest acuity side, because we don’t want to interfere too much in that process if we don’t need to.
One of the ways we are able to better track things now is that we’re implementing self-scheduling in a really large way across the system. For instance, more than half of the volume going through our retail clinics is booking online, so they’re selecting a spot online before they go to the QuickCare clinic. We have the same feature available for our urgent care, ww have the same functionality available for all of our employed primary care practices.
As people are making appointments, it is much easier for us to then follow it all the way to the end, and as we spread that platform across our entire system– I should mention we have self-scheduling now for all of our employed cardiologists. If you go to Piedmont Heart Institute Cardiologist for an appointments, you can book that online, the same way you’d book a restaurant reservation, plane ticket, whatever.
That is a very powerful data source for us long-term, and we know it’s going to enable better tracking of folks along their complete journey. It’s also one of the reasons we’re working with Salesforce, because we know that Salesforce is going to allow us to fill in all the holes, or many of the holes that we have around call center tracking, and how do we better manage the relationship with our patients in between episodes of care, what are they clicking on, what are they doing with the information we’re sending.
Right now, that all lives in separate silos, and it’s really difficult to integrate, but as we transition to the Salesforce platform- and we’re launching any day now. We’re going to be able to build a much more complete picture of every individual that touches our system, and ultimately, get to that place that all digital marketers like you describe as nirvana. We have individualized, personalized relationships with every one of our customers.
[00:22:55] Host: Not only do you have the relationship– Oh, my gosh, it’s like the Holy Grail, to have that kind of analytics. I haven’t talked to a health system yet that has that kind of data on their patients. They have no idea what happens when they jump from the primary care, to the cardiologist, to the surgeon.
[00:23:11] Matt: We’re not perfect. Let me be clear. I describe things that we are doing in ways that I hope that we’ll be able to do them. We haven’t figured everything out. We’re figuring it out at the same time everybody else is. One of the things that sets Piedmont apart is that we’ve made a system wide commitment to doing this. To being consumer-centric, to chasing that individualized relationship, we’re making the investments and putting the systems in place that will allow us to do it. It’s more a matter of- right now, it’s more attitude [laughs] than anything.
[00:23:47] Host: It starts with that kind of vision and the executive by in, which a lot of systems don’t have. They’re still sitting in the antiquated system. They’re not consumer-based. They don’t get that they need to act like Papa John’s. You guys have the executive buy in and you see where things are going, which is much more data-centric. Would it be fair to say that this technology integration is a big part of where Piedmont is going in the next two years? What are we going to see? Are we going to see more telemedicine? What are the big initiatives? Everybody wants to know what Matt’s going to be brewing.
[00:24:12] Matt: So does Matt.[laughter]
[00:24:18] Matt: We do have this thing called the Piedmont Way which is our approach really, our roadmap to delivering a differentiated consumer experience. A section of the team I work with is headed up by a VP of experience. The thing that they’re focused on every single day, it includes not just the behavioral piece of service, which we need to get better at all the time, it includes these platforms and the operational changes attached to those platforms.
When you say to a practice, we want to do online self-scheduling for your customers, part of what that means is that the physicians in that practice have to standardize their appointment types. There’s so much work that happens underneath. In the next two years, we’re going to continue to execute on that plan, and by doing that, we’re going to continue to make Piedmont Healthcare a business that differentiates itself on experience.
My favorite touch point for that, being an Atlanta based organization, is Chick-fil-A. There is a reason that Chick-fil-A can charge you 25% more for a fried chicken sandwich, and it has nothing to do with the actual taste of that sandwich, as delicious as it may be. It is nice, don’t get me wrong. What they did 8 to 10 years ago, Chick-fil-A decided they were going to become an experience-based business. They elevated themselves out of the fast food category.
People don’t even think of them in the same way that they think of McDonald’s or Burger King or those other folks, because of the uniquely good and consistent service that they’re able to offer in all of their stores. It really is amazing. While we know that healthcare is much more complicated than fast food is, much more difficult to deliver that consistent service across a broad spectrum, including independent physician practices of offices that people touch.
Ultimately, if we want Piedmont to be that standout system that people drive past other locations to reach, then we’ve got to give them the right reason to do it, and we believe it’s that consumer-centric differentiated experience that’s going to get us there.
[00:26:42] Host: Experience really is the differentiation. I can say that Chick-fil-A definitely has mastered that. If you ask for Polynesian sauce, they’ll say, “My pleasure.” If you go out there and ask for another one of the delicious sauces, they will continue to say, “My pleasure,” so it’s just consistency there. Differentiation huge is on the patient experience, so making this all retail-center consumer focus and make sure that we improve the experience.
Matt, you’re not doing yourself enough credit. You guys have pushed the envelope with telemedicine. You guys are the first or second system here in Georgia to be able to deliver virtual visits, and now you’re doing appointment scheduling. Technology is huge for you guys. I assume you guys are going to continue to push that, along with the patient experience in the next couple years, right?
[00:27:25] Matt: Totally. I appreciate that. I am not trying to brag, yes, we were first with virtual visits in the state of Georgia. We were second in the country to do star ratings and uncensored reviews for our physicians on our website. When you look at Piedmont physician page, it looks like an Amazon product page. The point is that it’s feels like you’re a consumer, and you’re buying something.
We did that stuff, we were very early, and we continue to focus on trying to build that into how we approach the customer, no doubt. Going forward to the thing I’m most excited about right this second, is something I haven’t really told anybody I’ve done.
[00:28:05] Host: Here we go. Here we go.
[00:28:06] Matt: Probably shouldn’t be saying. [laughs]
[00:28:08] Host: No. Come on, let’s do it.
[00:28:10] Matt: My boss, the CEO, Kevin, doing- this is not something controversial necessarily, but we have put an AI supported chat bot on select pages of our website. If you visited certain parts of piedmont.org, like our location’s page, like Piedmont now, which is a page that we have dedicated to getting you to the care quickly, the chat bot will pop up and engage you in a conversation.
It is getting smarter every single day. It’s been on our site since September last year, and it’s getting smarter all the time. We’re learning a lot about how people engage with health system websites. You’ll appreciate this, and every digital marketers will as well. It’s not something that we talk about a great deal, but if you look at the bounce rate on your website– When I say bounce rate, what I really mean is people who leave within 10 seconds of showing up.
Some of our pages were well over 70%, and that’s disturbing. What it says to me is something about the UX on our website isn’t right. We’ve done something wrong, because they’re not finding the information they need and are leaving. One of the reasons that this chat bot- we decided to put it on and test it out, is because I wanted to increase engagement and understand why people are coming. I thought, “Just ask them.” It’s not rocket science.
If people are coming and not finding what they want, then ask them, “Hey, what are you looking for? Maybe I can help you.” I was having that conversation with a friend of mine, Chad Mallory, who is the founder of a company called Loyal, who built the chat bot. You and I, in another conversation, we’re talking about BrightWhistle, so Chad is one of the founders of BrightWhistle.
Got a good relationship with him and the folks he works with, and I said to them, “This is a problem.What can we do to solve it?” and within a short number of weeks, there was a working chat bot prototype. Let’s just see what happens if we put it out there, and so we did and it’s been a fin journey. I think there’s so much room for growth in that digital experience space in health care. Because most people don’t interact with us very often.
It’s, what are we doing to create the tool that engages people, understands them better, and keeps them bounced to us during the times where they don’t need us, so that is easy for them to choose us when they do. I think that the chat bot is the start of something really interesting that we’ll be doing around digital experience in a coming year or two as well.
[00:31:12] Host: Yes. The younger generations really want to figure it out on their own with the chat bot, with messaging, with app scheduling on their own. You’re really appealing to a younger demographic, and this kind of experimentation, Matt, we just do not see in a medical community. I just wish more people embrace things like that. We have chat bot coming down, check out, go to their locations page if you guys want, little snippet of how it’ll work.
That’s going to be huge when we have virtual visits coming down the pipe. Matt, I’ve taken up a lot of your time so I won’t take too much more, I want to ask you one more question. We’ve got value based care, I imagine that’s changed some of what you’re doing, where do you see the future of medical marketing going? Is it a lot more of this automation, is there anything else we need to know?
[00:31:52] Matt: I think it’s a long line to the stuff that I mentioned earlier. It’s a personalization that we’ve got to get to, and in better understanding of each individual costumer. I think the tools already exist for us to personalize someone’s digital experience with us. We’re just not using it. I’ll say one last thing is, you need the data supported, smart strategy and an understanding of your business.
You got to have those three things. That’s how we decided where we need to go, and what I’m more concerned with than anything else, is marketing for marketing’s sake. Because while many of us operate successfully as a business, all of us in the nonprofit health system world, which is the vast majority of systems in the country, are called on to be stewards of the resources our community has entrusted to us. Every time you do marketing for marketing’s sake, every time you do marketing for ego sake, you’re literally burning money.
[00:33:01] Host: Yes.
[00:33:01] Matt: I can’t stand it. Data supported, smart strategy to get the system bought in, understand your business and build your strategy around that.
[00:33:14] Host: I love it. So everything data supported, guys. You heard him allude to it earlier, they’re on boarding Saesforce a big way. Our friend Justin- Salesforce are huge on this and this really helps support a lot of the decisions. Before you see MOs, the marketing directors of health systems out there, if you’re trying to get the executive team bought into what you’re doing, you need to on board market technology, get the data points you need to prove that digital works or any kind of marketing campaign that you’re trying to do works or doesn’t, and shift accordingly.
Matt, I can’t thank you enough for coming on to Ignite, we had a blast, we learned a ton. All of us in the plastic surgery marketing community owe you a huge set of service here in Atlanta [unintelligible 00:33:53]. Thank you so much for your time today, brother.
[00:33:59] Matt: I’m happy do to it man, anytime.
[00:34:05] Announcement: Thanks for listening to this episode of Ignite. If you like what you heard, please leave us a rating and review, and before you go, please remember to subscribe to this podcast so you don’t miss the next episode. For more digital marketing tips, make sure you visit www.cardinaldigitalmarketing.com. Have a great rest of the day, and don’t forget that the most important part of your job is to Ignite [unintelligible 00:34:24].
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