3 Healthcare Key Learnings from the HCIC 2016 Conference

Nov 21, 2016 | Marketing Strategy, Sitecore | 0 comments

Marketing conferences can sometimes be hit or miss. I personally measure the value of a conference on what I take away. I put this piece together to share some initial thoughts on what I learned about healthcare and marketing technology at the HCIC 2016 conference.

I’ve been to a number of healthcare marketing and technology conferences in the past three years or so. From SHSMD to Sitecore Symposium, each conference has a different focus, audience and learning opportunities. I’ve learned a lot from each conference I’ve attended, and while many presenters often tell us what they want us to learn from them, still other learnings are found within the cracks of the presentations and not necessarily on the final “key takeaways” slide.

I’ve found that it’s rare to walk away from any conference with a specific list of action items that you can start doing tomorrow to be better in your role or organization. Rather, I think conferences provide a number of great ideas, inspirations and key learnings that can be applied broadly to our roles as marketers.

I attended HCIC 2016 this past November in Las Vegas, NV, and below are my top 3 HCIC healthcare MarTech key learnings.

HCIC 2016 Conference Key Learning #1: We’ll Never Have Exactly the Budget We Want

But honestly, isn’t this the case in almost every industry? I don’t think there are any IT or marketing departments in retail, manufacturing or other industries that complain they have too much money to spend and not enough inititives to spend it on.

Capital is not in abundance in any industry. Healthcare isn’t unique.

All companies want bigger marketing and technology budgets. I think healthcare marketers use lack of budget as an excuse at times. Okay, so we lag behind other industries. That means we have to be smarter about how we spend our money than others. I don’t think it’s as much about the size of the budget, but more about how we spend it. In other words…

Our ability to do a lot with a little plays a huge role in Healthcare Marketing.

Optimizing our spend is the key to our budgetary woes. Budgets may grow some, but they’re not likely to see significant increases year over year. We have to be smart about how we invest our MarTech dollars.

Being smart about our technology investments doesn’t mean that we can’t allow failure, though. That’s not what I’m saying at all. On the contrary, failure is important, as long as it’s done right. Here are a few thoughts on more specifically what I mean about optimizing our technology spend:

  • Analytics and the ROI holy grail are a must. If we can’t show what we’ve contributed to the organization, our budgets will be one of the first to be cut.
  • Fail early and don’t repeat mistakes. It’s okay to fail, but what’s not okay is to fail twice in the same way. Experimenting in digital marketing is a key aspect to success. Case studies in MarTech, social media marketing, PPC and other areas are helpful as guideposts, but nothing can be applied to our situations, our market, our organizations without some modification. So, try new things, see if they work and adjust as we go.
  • Don’t be afraid to shop around. This goes for technology, software, vendors and other big budget items. There are an abundance of providers, tools and technologies at our disposal. All that competition means that there’s often some room to wiggle on pricing. A dollar saved in MarTech is a dollar that can be spent elsewhere!
Daniel Ruyter - Sitecore Marketing & Technology Pro

Who is Daniel Ruyter?

An Orlando, Florida Sitecore enthusiast and MVP hopeful, a marketing consultant, content creator and photographer.
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HCIC 2016 Conference Key Learning #2: our Technology Stack Matters (Like, a Lot)

Having a strategy behind the tools we use is hugely important for healthcare MarTech. With resources stretched to the max, there is no such thing as a do-over. Every dollar we spend has to be spent wisely and the technologies we choose matter – a lot.

How do healthcare organizations help to ensure they’re making the right technology decisions? In my experience, asking the right questions at the correct times is the best strategy in technology implementations. Here are a few questions you should be asking:

  • What problems are we trying to solve with this technology investment?
  • Is this a long-term or short-term investment? Are we prepared to invest the necessary resources (human, capital, time) to sustain this project?
  • Is this investment meant to be a patch to a problem or a permanent solution?
  • If we are planning for future phases, how likely are we to actually get to them?
  • Will this project contribute to or relieve our existing technical debt in any way?
  • Are all areas of the business that will participate in or be affected by this project in alignment?
  • Are there at least two strong executive stakeholders committed to the success of this project?
  • Have we identified a key owner to this project and are they empowered to help make it successful?

HCIC 2016 Conference Key Learning #3: We Will Outsource, But Will We Do It Right?

Outsourcing to agencies and vendor partners is necessary in healthcare marketing and technology. I heard a grand total of zero speakers at HCIC that said their internal FTE’s were adequate to take on all of the work being asked of them to complete.

The question is not if we will outsource, but if we will do it in a way that is efficient and brings equivalent (or higher) value than our investment. The agency we choose matters, and can set the tone for our success or failure.

our Vendor Relationships Matter, Too

What are some elements to a successful brand-agency partnership? As customers, what are some of the key elements we have to do in order to make these relationships work? Here are a few of the keys to successful vendor relationships that I’ve personally experienced:

  • No vendors are perfect, despite what their sales pitches may say. Yes, we do hire vendors for their expertise in technology, digital marketing, advertising or other specialty areas. We hire them because we don’t have these capabilities internally. However, every client is unique and while some projects may share characteristics with others the vendor has done, no two projects or clients are the same. Don’t expect perfection from them. You’ll just be setting yourself up for disappointment if you do.
  • What you provide the vendor, and when you provide it is a key relationship success factor. Are you late with reviews and feedback? Do you change your mind about requirements? Then don’t expect your projects to be delivered on time or on budget. Hold yourself and your teams accountable. If you acknowledge this as requirement up-front then you’re far more likely to be successful.
  • Be willing to pay for the work performed. Some agencies are actually migrating to a pay-for-performance model. I’ve never personally worked with agencies that operate this way, but even if they don’t, we should be willing to pay a vendor for the work they perform for us. The vendor isn’t in business to give us services for free and if we expect freebies from them, they may not be in business for very long, either.

The Story Behind the Photo

Excalibur Hotel & Casino - Las Vegas, NV

The Healthcare Internet Conference, or HCIC for short, took place November 7-9, 2016. A group that I attended the conference with had a few hours before our flight left on the last day. We decided to explore the Las Vegas strip. We set out from the Cosmopolitan hotel and went south. We stopped at a number of hotels along the way, just to see the sights. One of the hotels we saw was the Excalibur Hotel & Casino. We were crossing the pedestrian bridge from New York-New York to Excalibur and I snapped this photo of the castle silhouette against the sun setting.

Excalibur Hotel and Casino

Do you agree with my HCIC 2016 conference key learnings?

I’d love to hear your thoughts on this article and what you think the state of healthcare marketing is. Do you agree with my key learnings and take-aways from the HCIC 2016 conference? How do you feel about healthcare marketing budgets, technology challenges, resourcing and outsourcing? Please leave a comment below or feel free to contact me with your thoughts.