6 Observations from SHSMD 2013

by Jason Skinner, Chief Marketing Officer - 10/11/13

Couldn't make it to Chicago for this year's Society for Healthcare Strategy and Market Development Conference? Here's most of what you missed.

#1: The buzz around Big Data is deafening. An entire track was devoted to marketing analytics, and more than 30 presentations— about 40% of all SHSMD sessions — touched on CRM, predictive modeling, dashboards and reporting, or other aspects of data-driven marketing. And of course, we would be remiss not to mention our own presentation titled “Actionable Strategies for Applying Analytics” co-hosted by KishHealth System Director of Marketing and PR Theresa Komitas.

#2: Uncertainty is still the prevailing sentiment, and there’s not a ton of confidence in the government to save health care. The opening keynote began with a musical number titled “What Can I Do?” lampooning what many feel are mutually exclusive notions of higher quality care AND lower costs — not to mention the lack of immediate solutions to the physician shortage, overcrowded EDs, and myriad other challenges. Another speaker pointed out that healthcare costs began their steep increase — which now has the U.S. spending 3X more than other developed nations — around 1982, which is exactly when the government first attempted to put price controls on healthcare by implementing Diagnostic Related Groups.

#3: Despite innovations in technology and media, storytelling remains a powerful tool for marketers. Several sessions focused on the value of narrative to engage consumers, physicians, employees, and other healthcare constituents. No matter the channel —from traditional mediums like magazines and direct mail to social media, patient portals, and other web-based touchpoints — nothing beats a good story to send a message. Storytelling was featured as a key driver of success for nearly any healthcare strategy, whether it involves managing population health, enhancing the patient experience, increasing health literacy, or communicating organizational change.

#4: The shift to marketing wellness is in full swing. Along with several sessions focusing on promoting preventive care and disease management, author and keynote speaker Daniel Buettner highlighted common denominators of the world’s five “Blue Zones” where the population lives more than 10 years longer than most Americans:

  1. a plant-based diet, a cup of tea, and an occasional glass of red wine
  2. daily, moderate exercise and plenty of rest
  3. loving relationships and a devout faith

And when you have 20 minutes, check out Buettner’s fascinating TED Talk titled, “How to Live to Be 100+

And finally, a couple other observations that are less pertinent to healthcare marketing strategy — but still relevant to the SHSMD experience...

#4: Chocolate is still the most popular giveaway in the exhibit hall. There was no shortage of trinkets, tchotchkes, and bric-a-brac to draw a crowd — including a caricature artist, cornhole competition, and stand-in-the-glass-box-and-grab-money game — but nothing attracts attendees like the classic cavity maker.

#6: Chicago is a beautiful city filled with hard-working people. Like the shoe-shine guy standing outside of the hotel who suddenly squirted a glob of white polish on my shoe — then told me I owed him $5 to wipe it off.

So now that you're up to speed on the SHSMD highlights...we're off to speak at the 2013 Healthcare Internet Conference in New Orleans. Look for more beignet-fueled observations coming soon!

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