Guest Column | February 4, 2020

Overcoming The Perfect Storm To Better Engage Customers

By Ben Seyden, Franciscan Health

Where Trial Sponsors & CROs Go Wrong With Patient Engagement (And How To Get It Right)

Twenty years ago, George Clooney and Mark Wahlberg showed us the devastating impact of a perfect storm. The movie, The Perfect Storm, dramatizes the true story of the final voyage of the fishing vessel Andrea Gail. The ship and her crew fishing off the coast of Newfoundland were stuck at the confluence of two major weather systems, and a hurricane. The crew bravely faced waves measured at over 100 feet high. There was no way to escape. They must fight through the storm. In 2020, healthcare systems are in a similar situation.

For healthcare marketers, the challenge is engaging consumers who are better educated and more discerning than ever. They also must embrace the right technology options that will help them meet higher patient expectations. And they have to get there before industry disrupters like Amazon, CVS, Aetna, etc. siphon away their patients.

High operational costs, antiquated technology, and institutional silos make it even more difficult to respond to the perfectly “imperfect” storm. The leadership at Franciscan Health is working to break down the silos that have developed over the last 150 years, since six nuns immigrated from Germany to open our first hospital in Lafayette, IN. Franciscan Health serves a diverse population from Chicago to Indianapolis and the rural communities between. Today, many of our discussions center around how to be more united in our service efforts. Our Senior Leadership is constantly looking for ways to marry our technology and our services to deliver the care that our patients deserve.

For the healthcare marketer in 2020, it’s all about consumer demand: Help me stay in control of my healthcare decisions; provide me with a convenient experience; give me transparent pricing; offer me a menu of service options. We KNOW consumers demand improved experiences with their healthcare system, but low budgets often crush our ability to purchase and streamline data and technology in a way that lowers operational costs.

How Technology Offers A Path To A More Consumer-Focused Model

The essential task facing Franciscan Health, and all healthcare tech, is to connect the doctor and the patient, enhancing that relationship, as opposed to replacing the doctor’s voice with a bot. The Internet of Things will empower primary care doctors to provide proactive solutions to patients based on real-time self-reported data from wearable tech. Combining this information with Artificial Intelligence (AI) helps us anticipate the patient’s needs and keep them healthier. This will be critical as the industry shifts from the pay per services model to the population health business model.

The challenge is finding the right technology and messaging to care for each distinct population. This necessitates a system-wide approach with some regional autonomy to meet local market demands. We are moving toward broader, integrated acquisition strategies, in parallel with improved consumer experiences. In other words, we are working to open the digital front door wider while closing the back door to improve retention.

Just like in other industries, successful healthcare marketing teams work with technology partners that replace manual workstreams and simultaneously start to fill the consumer experience gap through automation and intelligence. They are shifting to a data modeling approach that empowers their efforts to deliver personalized messages to the right person at the right time—almost before they know they want it.

Partnership Trumps Vendors

There is a lot in the word “partnership.” Partners are willing to dig in the trenches with you. Partners are highly invested in their clients’ success. Look for someone you can win with, learn with, and challenges you toward excellence. Vendors want to see your payment come through. Partners want to see you be successful.

Healthcare systems should look to centralize their data and efforts through a powerful CRM. We chose Salesforce as our technology hub. Our Salesforce integration partner, Evariant, now part of Healthgrades, has expertly stood up our marketing, Call Center, and automated messaging (marketing automation) instances. We chose our web development partner (Paragon on Sitecore) based on their ability to seamlessly integrate with the Salesforce suite. Leaning on the expertise of these industry leaders, we have begun to tear down the silos, improving operational efficiency, and filling gaps in the consumer experience.

When choosing a partner, Franciscan Health looks for a team that is as forward-thinking as we are. They MUST help us meet our consumers where they are today and be positioned to innovate as technology and expectations evolve. We make data-driven decisions and require our partners to do the same. Our best partners, like Doe Anderson, Evariant and HealthAware, push us to engage our patients and consumers in more effective and proactive ways. And in turn, we push them to develop better technologies and processes. In other words, we complement each other and act like one team.

Don’t Weather The Storm Alone

Sadly, Captain Billy Tyne (George Clooney) and his crew did not survive The Perfect Storm (it’s been 20 years so the statute of limitations on spoilers has run out). Neither the Air National Guard nor the Coast Guard efforts were successful in rescuing the crew. It was a terrible maritime disaster.

Definitive Healthcare tracked 803 merger and acquisition announcements in 2018. When the dust settles, 2019 will be strewn with the wreckage of even more systems that could not weather the storm. For Franciscan Health, and other mission-driven health systems, acquisition is more than a buyout. It is the death of a 150-year old dream that the current stewards cannot allow to perish. With the right technology partners, marketing leaders understand the pulse of the consumer and make strategic decisions. These external experts help fend off the rogue waves looking to sink healthcare systems.

The forward-looking Marketing Department is uniquely positioned to help lead the organization’s fight against the storm because it spans all the silos. Last year, Franciscan Health marketing drove a 60 percent increase in year-over-year screenings. Those patients are now part of our automated efforts, receiving ongoing wellness and health information. And they are contributing to the bottom line. Our 43 evergreen CRM lead generating marketing campaigns boast a $10 paid revenue return for every $1 invested. That’s almost unheard of in any industry.

So, bring on the disruptors and the higher consumer expectations. We’re weathering the storm. We’re moving forward. We’re confidently fishing for the healthcare consumer in choppy waters because at the end of the day, no one does healthcare better than we do. And soon they won’t do Consumerism better than us either.

About The Author

Ben Seyden, Marketing Director, CRM Engagement Marketing at Franciscan Health (IN)

Ben Seyden has more than 20-years’ experience in customer engagement with some of the largest companies in the world, including Microsoft, JP Morgan Chase, and T-Mobile. In July of 2017, he began to stand up the CRM Marketing Platform for Franciscan Health and has successfully led their marketing team to a new focus on consumer engagement and patient journeys. He is a Salesforce certified administrator. Ben has been married for more than 20-years, has 3-children and a German Shepherd named Adi. He always says that if content is the king, then conversion is the queen.