Podcast #99

Exploring Scaling Up and The Future of Healthcare Marketing in 2024

Step into the future of healthcare marketing as CEO, Alex Membrillo, and Chief Growth Officer Lauren Leone, recap Scaling Up: The Healthcare Performance Marketing Summit! As we usher in 2024, discover the groundbreaking insights and trends that are shaping the industry. Cardinal's mid-December summit was more than just an event; it was a convergence of marketing maestros sharing deep dives into their strategies for the upcoming year. Missed out? Fear not! Tune in to hear all the juicy details, from the power of MOPS—marketing and operations unity—to the art of omni-channel mastery and more!

Episode Highlights:

Alex Membrillo: “We heard a lot about omnichannel. Everything omnichannel, full funnel. What does that mean? Why does it matter?”

Lauren Leone: “It means spending the time to understand your patient journey, understand how you’re going to differentiate your brand across that journey… Race to the bottom [of the funnel] is not the most efficient practice anymore. There’s a ton of demand. I’m not saying don’t get out there and capture it. That’s the first thing you should do.

If you want to expand beyond that, if you don’t want to be at the whim of this, ‘Google CPC forever,’ you’ve got to start building out a wider mix of assets. That may mean building your social media presence and advertising on those channels, building brand equity through telling really great stories, outcomes, providers speaking directly to the work that they’re doing, sharing those so that you have this brand equity built up in your communities.”

Episode Overview

Step into the forefront of healthcare marketing with CEO Alex Membrillo and Chief Growth Officer Lauren Leone as they recap the enriching experience at the Scaling Up: The Healthcare Performance Marketing Seminar. Held in mid-December, this event marked a pivotal moment, drawing insights from industry superstars and presenting deep dives into upcoming trends. Our hosts reflect on the events success, showcasing an array of educational content and expert panels that offered specific, advanced strategies. 

The conversation further navigates through goal planning workshops, shedding light on the importance of aligning marketing objectives with operational goals. The focus remains on understanding business needs, patient demographics, and provider availability to steer marketing strategies effectively. Additionally, omnichannel and full-funnel marketing strategies emerged as crucial components, emphasizing the need to comprehend patient journeys and differentiate brands across various touchpoints.

Our hosts also discuss the role of technology and analytics, showcasing a variety of tools and platforms such as Line, Patient Prism, and Red Spot Interactive, highlighting the need for investments in advanced technology for long-term benefits. The show also spotlight Artificial Intelligence (AI), emphasizing its growing importance in marketing. 

This episode highlights key steps for healthcare marketers heading into 2024: aligning marketing with operational goals, reviewing and investing in compliant technology, understanding the intricate patient journey, and nurturing creative and tech-savvy skills. The takeaway? A call for continuous education and adaptability in an evolving healthcare marketing landscape. 

Related Resources

Announcer: Welcome to the Ignite Podcast, the only healthcare marketing podcast that digs into the digital strategies and tactics that help you accelerate growth. Each week, Cardinal’s experts explore innovative ways to build your digital presence and attract more patients. Buckle up for another episode of Ignite.

Alex Membrillo: We’re going into 2024 and Cardinal just had the most fun week ever. We just are exiting, scaling up the Healthcare Performance Marketing Seminar we put on here in mid-December. Man, it was cool. It was an honor to host such superstars. More than anything, I learned a lot. It was cool. We’ve had roundtables once a month for so many years and we publish blogs. I think some of the education leaders on HIPAA compliance stuff, but hearing from so many panel experts and it was like really deep dives into what they see coming next year and how they’re operating differently, it was cool, Lauren. I’m excited to talk about the trends we’re seeing and what we heard. What’s going on?

Lauren Leone: Yes. We were on such a high coming off of that. It’s fun to recap it and the ideas are already turning on how we’re going to make it bigger and better next year. If you didn’t join and you’re listening to this- [crosstalk]

Alex: You missed out.

Lauren: You did miss out.

Alex: You missed out. You missed out. Lots of good stuff. Definitely ask for a ticket and forgiveness, and we’ll let you in there. Lots of presentations from the flock that were really specific, advanced stuff, which is what I liked. Then the panels were really cool because we had some of the highest flyers we’ve ever seen in healthcare. Marketing is awesome. Hundreds of people joined. Lots of momentum. Very cool and we’re going to go even bigger next year. I want more education, more thought leaders. Still two days, we learned a lot, so very fun.

One of the things we heard about, opening panel, I actually heard this, but that’s really the best session. Opening session was with a few CMOs. One of them, Kristina Dover from Mercy Health System. She took a really interesting approach. She wasn’t in a silo. She was working across operations and all that stuff. What did she say, Lauren? Why did that matter?

Lauren: She had said that one of the biggest initiatives that they took this year was to partner with operations so that when they were launching big awareness campaigns, which, of course, identifying that that was a need, came from those early meetings with those ops leaders and some sentiment that there wasn’t strong brand awareness, and then partnering with them to measure the impact of it. Lift studies, before and after, how can we attribute the work that we did?

Even if it wasn’t, how us marketers like to do it, last click, know my ROI, see it in the platform, that they were able to really, truly say collectively as a group that the incrementality of the lift in patient inquiries was because of this concerted effort and operations was bought in before they even launched it. The concept of, I think Teresa said it in our session on Women’s Health MOPs, was like the huge theme for next year, marketing and ops being one unified team.

Alex: Oh, I like that. MOPs. All right. Cool. Did she coin that? Has she registered that? [crosstalk]

Lauren: She should.

Alex: I’m going to steal it. That was cool. She attended. She had her ops leader attend too. That’s good. Now, I think it’s going to force marketers to better understand business. We have to sit at the table with ops and finance. We have to understand what is the business trying to achieve? I love healthcare marketing or connecting patients with care, but there is like a revenue goal and we’re out here to make money, especially private equity that groups, like even hospitals have to bring in certain inflows to sustain the care they’re providing.

Marketing’s got to understand what ops is looking for. Also where is the need? What are the kinds of patients we want? What are the payer distributions that we want and then align what we do to what they need. This is fun that we’re sitting at the table. Let’s talk about goal planning. We heard a lot about this. We had a workshop that dug into the approach. Where do we start with goal planning? What are the metrics? How do we think about it? Where should we go? Should we just increase 10%? Should we go 50% like I’d like to do a Cardinal? Where do you start? How do you think?

Lauren: It comes back to starting with ops, right. Understanding what is happening in the organization next year, whether it’s DeNovo expansion, acquisition planning, same store sales. Adding new docs and maximizing the real estate you have in your current locations because opening new ones is expensive. Getting with the team and understanding where they’re going next year and what the expectations are for capacity and doing a look back too on, where did we not hit goals this year? Okay. Our minimum viable step for next year is to try to get to that even point and then to grow beyond that. It has to start there.

We’re looking at things like provider schedules and how busy were they, and were there moments where we could have filled appointment slots, or were there certain types of patients that we learned this year that a patient enters our system through primary care instead of a different service line that we, actually, get to work with them and have them as a patient for a longer life cycle. These are the types of nuggets of information that you need to set effective goals, figure out what you’re going to spend your money and your time on.  That should be the foundation of your plan for next year.

Alex: I love that. It starts with ops and we have to see what the business needs and then we start with the goals from there and then we figure out what marketing does after. Let’s talk about what marketing does to achieve said goals. We heard a lot about omnichannel. Everything omnichannel, full funnel. What does that mean? Why does it matter?

Lauren: It means spending the time to understand your patient journey, understand how you’re going to differentiate your brand across that journey. This concept of digital being a novel thing and healthcare and brands are just getting started with it, it’s really past. Everyone’s doing it. Race to the bottom is not the most efficient place anymore. There’s a ton of demand. I’m not saying don’t get out there and capture it. That’s the first thing you should do.

If you want to expand beyond that, if you don’t want to be at the whim of this, “Google CPC forever,” you’ve got to start building out a wider mix and a larger pool of assets. That may be things like building your social media presence and advertising on those channels, building brand equity through telling really great stories, hero stories, outcomes, providers speaking directly to the work that they’re doing, sharing those so that you have this brand equity built up in your communities. You’re not just bidding on “best orthopedic surgeon” near me when someone is very far into their decision-making process.

Alex: Yes. With a lot of these healthcare decisions, they’re made in a day, but influenced over six months and the story that the C-suite is, “Hey, guys. The CPL, Cost-per-booking, cost-per– it’s not going to look great for the first few months at any location, but we have to build the brand awareness because if we don’t do these things, then your CPL will never look great because we will have no differentiated brand over anybody else and we’re going to really struggle.”

It’s like marketing, once again, has to sit with ops and describe the picture. It may not be pretty for a while to build brand awareness, but we’ll never get out of this if we don’t. The patient journey is complex, you mentioned that. We heard from a number of marketing leaders, first thing they did when they took the job is market research, audience to research focus groups.

They met with the providers too and they figured it out, “Hey, what does this practice mean to you? Why do you think we’re different? Why do you think we’re better?” A lot of good info can come from your providers. Then they built out patient journeys and all kinds of stuff based on the research that they did. Even though they called it qual and quantitative and all that fun stuff, but the patient journey is not simple anymore and competitors know what they are doing. To differentiate, your brand’s got to be better, messaging better, and value prop differentiated.

Now, all of that fun stuff on my channel and full funnel, that’s great, but a lot of the conversation was also about tech and analytics. 53% of healthcare marketers that took the poll said, “Lead attribution and inability to demonstrate ROI was their top marketing challenge going into 2024.” Why do you think that is and what do people do about it, Lauren?

Lauren: It’s a combination of a few things, maybe just simply the lack of technology to even tell you, what someone is doing when they get to your site or engage with you, then you’ve got layered on top of that, a challenge in how you work with your ops team. I’m tracking calls, but am I getting feedback? Do I know which ones are working? You’ve got to bridge that gap.

This is the first time or the first year I’ve ever seen in doing this over a decade with you, Alex, that we’ve got marketing people going to their ops leaders and saying, “I have a lot of data that tells me a lot about what’s working well and not working well with their call centers, or with how your retention programs are working, and we need to interject ourselves and be part of that.”

Then I think the third piece on why it’s not working is just it’s complex. You’re launching full funnel, like you said. You’re going to go in and launch a six month video campaign before you enter a new market. You’re not going to get direct ROI on that. You have to realize that direct ROI is not the objective of every dollar that you spend. What you want to see is when you do launch your acquisition initiatives or you open your new office and you see how busy you are, that those things have paid off, but you’re not going to be able to tie every dollar to it.

Alex: You can’t tie every dollar to it. I think what you have to say is like 6 to 12 months down the road that our cost-per-booking come down at these locations is our volume coming up is our affinity very nice. Some of the tech that we heard constantly, Line, Patient Prism, and VoCA, Mixpanel heat for lead tracking and analytics, online booking, next patient, next, doc, doc, UOC, CDP, Fresh Pain.

We love our friends at Fresh Pain. They joined with Heartland Dental. That was really cool to hear from the biggest DSL CRM Salesforce, and signed by MuleSoft. That was cool. Red Spot Interactive, I like a lot. One of our clients uses it. Not easy to integrate, but they have some of the most advanced tracking I’ve ever seen. Rep Management, Qualtrics, Birdeye, Radar Ray, lots of fun technology. Like Lauren said, it’s not easy. This is not easy.

The best clients that are scaling, we’ve seen them personally and we’re hearing it from the healthcare marketers around the country, the clients that have the most confidence are the ones that have spent the difficult six months integrating some of these not so cheap technologies. Now,  going into 2024, those are the same clients calling us saying, “We want to grow. Ops has confidence in our numbers and that we can get efficient booked appointments in here. Let’s grow like crazy and beat our competitors.” That’s really fun. That’s really fun. It takes investing in the right technology early. Can’t be a cheapo anymore, me amigos. All right, guys. We heard when we surveyed and we left a text box open there, “What’s the thing you want to wish you learned more about that we didn’t provide enough information?”It was all about HIPAA compliant, marketing analytics and BI solutions. Get ready in 2024 and Q1, we’re going to be launching workshop system. We’re going to get software vendors in here. We’re going to do lots of little things and some big things so that you guys can get up to speed on what it means to market in the new pixel-less world. What did we hear about AI, Lauren?

Lauren: Fundamentally, the people that are rejecting AI or afraid of it are the ones that are going to get left behind. It does not mean that you have to have an AI driven marketing machine and you’re just sitting back watching, right? That’s not the suggestion. It is about using it strategically to get the busy work done that otherwise you would spend a lot of time, spend a lot of energy, spend a lot of money on.

We see people using it for things like call analysis, Patient Prism and line both have this humans listening to every call and logging that information manually is ridiculous. AI, telling you whether the outcome of that call was booked, not booked, reasons not booked. That is a great example of how you’re going to save yourself a ton of time, copywriting, basic copywriting. I’m not suggesting that you use AI to write your content. The inputs you put in are important. Get those from the providers.

You still need to be clinically accurate. You need to understand your patient journey, but do you need to craft every single word in the sentence once you have all the right inputs? No, you don’t. You can get that done in 30 seconds. There’s a lot of ways we see groups using AI. Some groups are testing some of those fun, new creative tools. There’s a lot you could be doing there, but find a way next year. If you are not, maybe it’s transcribing your meeting notes to try one or two new AI tools, see if you can get them to work for your organization.

Alex: I’m guilty. Maybe my job doesn’t require it, but, well, sometimes for LinkedIn posts, I go in there and I say, “Give me some Monday motivation.” Then it’s like, “Put some emojis in there.” I’m like, “This is terrible. This is not how I thought.” All right. Good. Lauren’s right though. There are cool things we need to do to get physicians working at top of license. All right. Lauren, in summary, you got 15 seconds. Wrap up our year in first steps for 24. 15 seconds, the clock is yours.

Lauren: You should be your ops leaders, figure out what your goals are for next year. Get on the same page, translate those into marketing goals. Get KPIs with your agency, your internal team, and march towards those. Do not lose sight. Tech stack, look at your tech stack. If you are not compliant, start doing something about it. It’s going to crack down even harder next year. Then, lastly, I would say, spend the time. This may be a year-long project, getting to know your patient and their journey and invest in really figuring out how to speak to them and how you’re going to be different.

Alex: I love it as she did it in 15 seconds. Along with patient journey, full funnel advertising, you got to be good at creative. Find a good agency or start building the muscle through Upwork or internal guys. Lots of fun stuff. You’re going to have to learn marketers. You got to be tech wizard. You got to understand legalese, and you got to understand the business KPIs. Let’s go get our MBAs next year. Lauren, thanks for joining us on Ignite.

Lauren: See y’all next year.


Announcer: Thanks for listening to this episode of Ignite. Interested in keeping up with the latest trends in healthcare marketing? Subscribe to our podcast and leave a rating and review. For more healthcare marketing tips, visit our blog at cardinaldigitalmarketing.com.

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