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So what is the problem with our marketing?

Our message is confusing. We have the wrong messengers - many of which have chosen to side with political objectives which are divisive in today's environment, and we have don't speak with respect to certain parts of our community. 

But let's get real for a second, we aren't answering the buy questions. People want to know why to buy coke and pepsi, and they want to know why to get a vaccine. Because we said so is the worse way to get a child to do something and it is even less effective with adults. Because the science said so is not much more effective. Answer the question, when will I get to stop wearing a mask? When will I get to go on a cruise or walk through Disney Land without a mask? How much of my normal life in the pre-COVID era will I be able to retain? Don't look down your nose at this, understand that this is how marketing has worked for centuries. Consider it the science of marketing and it's not going to change. Now, solve the problem at hand. figure out how to get 80% of America Vaccinated.

Onward

Transcript

This transcription is provided by artificial intelligence. We believe in technology but understand that even the most intelligent robots can sometimes get speech recognition wrong.

  Today in health it, the story is healthcare and sciences marketing problem. My name is Bill Russell. I'm a former CIO for a 16 hospital system and creator of this week in Health IT a channel dedicated to keeping health IT staff current. I. And engaged today. No sponsor. Just wanna make you aware of a service we offer.

We do three full length shows on this week in health IT every week. These are interviews, new shows, and a solution showcase. From time to time. You may not have the time to listen every day, but we developed clip notes to keep you informed. This is an email that goes out 24 hours after each show airs. On the channel with a summary, bullet points and two to four short video clips.

Subscribe on our website this week, health.com. Just click on the subscribe button in the upper right hand corner. Or better yet, you can have great discussions with your team about these subjects. Go ahead and have your team subscribe on the website as well. All right, here's today's story. And I hesitate to do this one only because I know it has some political charge ramifications, and I'm not really a political show, nor do I want to be a political show, but I feel like, uh, our marketing efforts need to be addressed in some way, shape, or form.

And our friend John Halamka, wrote a good article on this, so I'm gonna use that as a backdrop. Okay. So, marketing, healthcare, and science has a marketing problem, actually, to be more specific. They have a message and messenger problem, but if we dig a little deeper, it's really a problem of smugness before I go down that path.

I'm not an anti-Vaxxer, okay? I got my second shot two days ago. I was extremely tired yesterday. It was unbelievable how tired I was yesterday. I guess that's the body fighting to, uh, create the antibodies. So I got my second shot at the earliest possible time I could get my vaccine in my area. I believe in science, I believe.

It more when there's more data to support it. Because I've, I read all these articles and to be honest with you, there's a lot of contradicting science, quite frankly, uh, science that's done by one university versus another, and that's how we make progress. We do studies, we learn more things. We add to the body of knowledge.

The more data the better. I also value professionals that practice marketing. It's sophisticated and advanced in its practices. Marketing changes behavior, it changes culture, and that is really amazing when you think about it. Alright, John Mka wrote a piece in Health System, CIO Healthcare Needs Better Marketing two TOO.

And this is from the article, Neil Degrass Tyson, A world renowned. Astrophysicist and the director of the Hayden Planetarium in New York City continues to inspire us with words like, the good thing about science is that it's true whether or not you believe in it. Do you hear the smugness? The statement is true until it isn't true.

The world is flat. Amidst all the confusion and debate in the popular press about health science. This form of uncommon sense needs more media attention. It's a truism that may have prompted Dr. Tyson to pen a recent editorial in the Wall Street Journal entitled. Science needs better marketing. The same holds true for healthcare and digital tools now available to support it.

We want the public to appreciate what health science does for us each day and to understand that health science is not simply one more opinion that we can choose to ignore or accept, depending on your personal belief system. But how do we as scientists accomplish that heroic feat without alienating consumers and patients, or being accused of hyperbole.

And Cjo Director of Marketing coordination for Mayo Clinic platform points out that patients need to make informed decisions about their care. Today the consumer has access to a plethora of information from their smartphone. A search for our vaccine safe on Google gets 1.4 billion results. That search includes everything from academic papers to news stories, social media posts by influencers to blog posts by a mom in Kansas City detailing her personal experience.

This is where marketing can help explains Eure. For example, a year long marketing campaign tracking a COVID-19 survivor whose persistent symptoms are treated by healthcare team who find novel therapies, procedures is credible, provides evidence, and is unbiased and balanced Similarly. There is credible evidence to show that the three vaccines in use are having an impact on COVID-19 hospitalizations and mortality in the United States.

I would note that, uh, it's interesting when we, we, this is still a developing muscle for us in healthcare because when we talk to marketing people in healthcare, they think that almost everyone makes a decision based on fact. And the reality is very few people make decisions based on facts and marketing professionals really understand that.

But I'm gonna go on the story says, unfortunately, telling the success stories of medicine seems to have taken a backseat among many in the mass media. I. To more headline grabbing negative themes. No doubt there are many legitimate stories about medicine shortcomings and the need to reach the public, but journalists also need to have a critical thinking skills to step back on occasion and ask, am I taking a negative slant because I know my editor or publisher wants more page views, which in turn translate into more ad dollars?

Am I using needlessly inflammatory adjectives to spark reader's anger? And he goes on it. It's really it. It's a well-written piece. I love John's thinking on this, and I think it's really helpful. . What I want to do is I wanna build on that. I wanna build on what John was saying, and I'm gonna get a little bit more pointed than John did.

I don't work for Mayo Clinic. I am, by definition in the media, so you can turn me off now if you, if you like former healthcare. So I, I, I'm sort of looking at the, trying to look at this objectively and. So, why does healthcare struggle with marketing? I'm gonna give you five reasons I think today, why healthcare struggles with marketing.

Then I'm gonna give you maybe nine things that I think healthcare can do right now or should do to address its marketing problem. The first thing is mixed messages. Healthcare and science don't speak with one voice and they provide mixed messages. The vaccine is effective, but I still have to wear a mask once I get vaccinated.

Do you understand how that's a mixed message? If I get the vaccine, I have a 0.007% chance of actually getting the virus. I'm willing to accept that risk. That risk is so nominal that for me, I, I don't wanna wear a mask anymore and I shouldn't really have to at 0.007. Now some people will say it's a sign of, uh, of, of solidarity, and some people will say, well, we don't know who's been vaccinated and who hasn't.

And okay, I get those things. It's still a mixed message. Get the vaccine, but you still have to wear a mask. Social distancing is good, but an MIT study just last week said six feet or 60 feet, doesn't really matter. It's really about the ventilation of the building. Well, we have no idea what the ventilation of a building is when we walk into it, and you see that mixed message there.

Social distancing is what we should be doing. But an MIT study, which again is an institution that we've been taught to really respect the engineering that comes out of MIT is saying six feet or 60 feet doesn't really matter. Uh, you know, it, it doesn't really back up what we've been saying. And I understand these studies build on each other.

We get smarter as we go along. I. The next thing, I see people walking alone outside with a mask on. Why are we not calling this out? The outdoors is the best place to be if you are trying to combat this virus. UV light kills off the virus. Droplets evaporate. Ventilation is fantastic. Outdoors. We've seen studies that were conducted that outdoor events have been really good with regard to keeping the transmission of virus.

Down. So why aren't we calling this out? E? Either way, it's a mixed message. A mask is really not about protecting you as much as it's about protecting those around you now wear a double mask. It's again, it's a mixed message. I can see if we're saying, look, we're gonna go from normal masks to N95 for everybody, but to say that a double mask is gonna do anything more than a single mask with regard to this, it's really about

Protecting the other people around you, not protecting you. So double mask doesn't make any sense to me whatsoever. Uh, science told us that we could get the virus from our Amazon package before we found out that we really couldn't and we didn't have to worry about that. Now, that was early on, so I'm gonna give that one a pass.

I understand. Early on in the pandemic, we didn't know what we didn't know. So we aired on the side of caution, and that is as it should be. But here we are one year later and we know more. So you see the problem. We send some mixed messages. I'm sure there's arguments for each one of those, and I'm willing to hear 'em, but at the end of the day, it's still a mixed message to most of America.

The other thing is that marketing understands is . People need to be moved into action. In most cases, it has to benefit them personally. In fewer and fewer cases, people will do it to be altruistic or in the best interest of others. Either way. That isn't our message today. The core problem with marketing, science and healthcare is smugness.

We have to decide what is more important, being superior, being right, scoring political points, or serving the patient. The choice is pretty obvious when we say it that way, but I. It. It's still something that needs to be communicated. Most of our communication comes off as smug at best and with certain amount of disdain.

At worse, for those who don't follow our guidance and the practice of marketing focuses on what moves people to action, what will get. The person to stand up and schedule an appointment to get a vaccine. I'm gonna go back to the West Wing once again. Uh, we're watching it through with our college daughter.

It's a great backdrop. If you haven't done this, it's a great backdrop to talk about issues and understand the political landscape that we live in. Uh, there's a character in there called Bruno, and I forget Bruno's last name, but he is a paid political consultant who gets people elected, and Bruno is constantly talking about

How we get some demographic to think the president is not an elitist Northeastern professor, even though he is an elitist Northeastern professor, and to vote for that president in the next election, and they push him from time to time and he will remind them that he gets paid to get votes. He is a marketing professional.

He doesn't know or care about your politics, just how much he can move that person with a message. If Bruno were here, this is what I think he would be saying to us in healthcare and science. Number one, I. You have to have certain amount of respect for any individual you are trying to influence through marketing.

You can't vilify groups you are trying to influence. Consider this Kaiser Health News article, and this was written just last week, April 23rd, 2021. I. Michigan's outbreak. Worry scientists will conservative outposts keep the pandemic rolling. It's, it's unbelievable to me that in today's day and age, we are still vilifying a group of people that we are hoping will get vaccinated.

That's the great way to win people's hearts and minds, is to vilify that group and then expect them to respond to your lucid arguments. You can't call them Neanderthals and then turn around and say, trust us, we have your best interest at heart. I think the second thing is good marketing starts from a foundation of trust.

Mobilize your most important asset, and it's not the media, it's physicians, it's nurses, it's the healthcare system. These are the trusted sources of health in our communities. They have to be the front lines for getting the message out. Third thing, falsehood kills credibility. Avoid them like the plague, even if they're good and for a good cause.

Not telling people today that they're likely to need an annual covid shot will feel like you're hiding something when the time comes. Why aren't we answering this important question number four, clarity of message is king. What is our message? Speak with one voice. Stay on message. See it clearly, say it often.

Show it creatively. Number five, avoid the politicization of the message. You can't score political points and have a successful marketing campaign. Politics by its nature, at least today, is divisive. You, you have to make the choice Today what is more important? Being superior, being right, scoring political points, or serving the patient.

And right now it's more important to serve the communities and the patients in our community. Number six, the medium matters. Local is better than national. Person to person is more effective than print or billboard or television, or even internet marketing ads. Personal conversations are the best, especially if it is with a care professional and someone that they trust and respect.

Number seven, go where they are. There's a reason that campaigns have ground operations. You have to go door to door to convince people to vote for you. This will take some level of effort. Local newspaper articles are probably better than national articles, as we said before, and local campaigns.

Deploying your health system care workers in places where the vaccine is being done so that they can answer questions, uh, regardless of if it is your. Health system delivering those vaccines. Or if it is another organization delivering those, uh, vaccines, it could be at the local grocery store or wherever they're being done.

Uh, consider curtailing social media posts of your staff that vilify part of the community that you're trying to serve. It seems. That it's only acceptable these days based on politics or vaccine stance, but regardless, it isn't helping and it's not serving the community. And number nine, hire a marketing firm.

Healthcare marketing is getting better, but it is a new muscle for sure, for most organizations. It used to be that we built a building, we built a a network, and people just came to us. We didn't have to appeal to consumers in any way, shape or form. It's not a, it's not an established muscle for us. We need to go out and hire Bruno.

This is someone who is solely focused on the outcome that you want to deliver. You tell them, we want more people to get the vaccine. We wanna get to 80% people vaccinated in our community. Great. Now they can call out activities that are counter to your objective and they will put together the right messaging and measurement to ensure that you're making progress.

So what is the problem with our marketing? It's a jumbled mess. Our message is confusing. We have the wrong messengers, many of which have chosen sides with political objectives, which are divisive in today's environment. And we don't speak with respect to certain parts of our community. But let's get real for a second.

We aren't answering the buy questions people want to know. Why buy Coke or Pepsi? And they want to know why get the vaccine? Because we said so is the worst way to get a child to do something. And it's even less effective with adults because the science said so is not much more effective. Answer the question, when will I get to stop wearing a mask?

When will I get to go on a cruise or walk through Disneyland without a mask? How much of my normal life in a pre COVID-19 era will I be able to retain? Don't look down your nose at this. Understand that this is how marketing has worked for centuries. Consider it a science, the science of marketing, and it's not going to change.

Now, solve the problem at hand. Figure out how to get 80% or more of the people in your community. And in America vaccinated. That's all for today. If you know someone that might benefit from our channel, please forward them a note. They can subscribe on our website this week, health.com, or wherever you listen to podcasts.

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