Reflecting on Tennis Injuries, Urgent Care and Thought Leadership

How Brand Spokespeople can Inspire Confidence in Urgent Care Centers

My ladies’ doubles tennis team had its final match of the summer last week, and it turns out that my opponent was one of the same opponents I had three summers ago when I broke my wrist during my first match of the season.

Fortunately, we were able to play two sets this time. After the second set, she asked me if I once was injured at the beginning of a match a few years ago. I confirmed that was me who had an epic wipeout running for a ball that June in 2016.

I remembered I had blogged about the brand battle I had that day, driving around with one arm trying to figure out which urgent care center to go to.

Well, it’s been two years since that blog was posted. As I was re-reading it, I kept thinking about how much SPRYTE could contribute to a multi-location urgent care brand.

That’s because we’re hyperlocal healthcare PR experts. We’ve had a blast and done a great job building the reputation of Holy Redeemer Health System’s single Pediatric UrgiCare Center. And, we deploy a favorite consumer public relations strategy that other urgent care brands should consider: the Brand Spokesperson.

One example of this is our work to leverage Dr. Avi Gurwitz – a pediatrician at Holy Redeemer and medical director of its Pediatric UrgiCare Center – as an expert resource for local print and broadcast journalists. His extensive pediatric experience has made him a great go-to expert for a variety of health-related stories, including a Q&A segment on KYW-AM about spring sports and concussion prevention.

Additionally, Dr. Gurwitz has provided tips for families traveling during vacation season in an article by The Philadelphia Inquirer, and discussed cases he has seen in the UrgiCare Center to warn against trending risks like Lyme disease and the dangers of heavy backpacks.

So, what type of impression is made on Holy Redeemer’s potential pediatric patients when they see and hear knowledgeable, articulate and warm Dr. Gurwitz interviewed by broadcast and print healthcare journalists? We think it’s a very positive one that can make kids and their parents feel confident about the pediatric care they’ll receive from Dr. Gurwitz and his team.

While many people aren’t naturally-gifted spokespeople like Dr. Gurwitz, urgent care organizations should utilize this consumer marketing tactic as part of their integrated marketing strategies whenever possible. Large, brightly-lit signs and billboards don’t always build this type of confidence in your patient care team.

Devine Grades Healthcare Sector with a “B”

Expansion Must be Balanced with Reimbursement

The Chamber of Commerce Southern New Jersey stages a very successful, well-attended quarterly South Jersey Business Outlook where panelists from different industries grade the economy today and also provide their six-month forecasts.

Representing the consumer healthcare industry on the panel in June was Joseph W. Devine, FACHE, who is President and Chief Experience Officer of Jefferson Health New Jersey and Chairman of the Boards of the New Jersey Hospital Association and the Chamber of Commerce Southern New Jersey, where I’m a fellow Board member.

In spite of never before seen revenue growth and expansion, Devine gave the healthcare industry a B grade for both now and his six-month forecast.  That’s because of “uncertainty,” Devine said.  “We have to balance investment and (government) reimbursement.”  Government reimbursement rates are forever changing and unpredictable.  Still, healthcare expansion in New Jersey is robust and gaining strength.

Five hundred million dollars in taxes contributed to the State of New Jersey.  More than $565 million in free care to state citizens.  More than 120,000 full time hospital employees.  These are some of the statewide economic impact statistics Devine provided.

Investment in South Jersey Healthcare is Staggering

Closer to home and specific to Southern New Jersey, Devine said Inspira Health Network is spending $356 million building its new hospital near Rowan University in Mullica Hill, Gloucester County and that Jefferson Health is spending more than $450 million on expanding its campuses in Cherry Hill and Washington Township, Camden County.

Devine called the amount of new investment “staggering.”  And all the major players are also buying new electronic health record (EHR) platforms, if they don’t already have them, including Jefferson Health New Jersey, which spent $115 million on a “Cadillac” EHR, which goes live in September.  “This is what consumers expect,” Devine said.  “You have to have it (an EHR.)”

Globally, venture capitalists have invested more than $9 billion in digital healthcare and Alphabet, Google’s parent company, has acquired more than 60 healthcare companies in recent years, Devine continued.  And speaking of healthcare tech, Jefferson is driving innovation by partnering with five different startup companies in Silicon Valley.

So, what does this all mean for a local, independent healthcare communications consultancy?  After years of supporting both for and nonprofit healthcare companies, two years ago, the expanding, diversifying healthcare sector Devine described is why my agency Simon PR reinvented itself as SPRYTE Communications, a specialist in the healthcare provider space.

While Devine’s optimism was guarded due to government’s unpredictable reimbursement posture, my excitement grew as his remarks continued.  There are so many outstanding healthcare prospects for SPRYTE to pursue in New Jersey.  I’m not ready to give SPRYTE a grade but in a cautiously optimistic way, I believe, we are very well positioned for the healthcare marketplace today and in the future.  -Lisa Simon

At SPRYTE Healthcare Communications Means Consumer PR

Hyper Local is So Credible and Rewarding

When you say healthcare communications agency in Philadelphia or New Jersey, the assumption is that you’re focused on pharmaceutical or life sciences companies.  We’ve met so many successful local niche consultants serving those industries at every stage of their business cycles.  And the increasingly visible publicly-traded global holding companies have also located their robust healthcare agency brands in Philadelphia in recent years to be closer to their clients.

Well, SPRYTE Communications specializes exclusively in healthcare too but we support healthcare providers.  Not in a business-to-business capacity.  Our strength is in consumer public relations.

Here’s an example of a campaign we conducted on behalf of Holy Redeemer Health System, a client since 2006, last week.

Holy Redeemer Opens 5th Outpatient Medical Center in Bucks County

When Holy Redeemer opened its fifth Bucks County outpatient medical center, consumer public relations was the only external communications function deployed.

The brand new 18,000 square foot ambulatory care center provides primary care, obstetrical and gynecological care, orthopedic care and rehabilitation services, professional counseling, physical therapy and radiology services.

The opening of Redeemer HealthCare at Richboro is of interest to individuals and businesses living in its vicinity for a variety of consumer and economic impact reasons.  That’s why there was wide pick up of our news release by local daily and weekly newspapers.

But the ambulatory care center’s opening was also of interest regionally where the highly competitive healthcare provider industry is widely covered.  John George, the Philadelphia Business Journal’s healthcare writer, conducted interviews with Holy Redeemer’s senior leaders and wrote the most comprehensive article about the System’s continued expansion in to new geographies in Bucks County.

Finally, Holy Redeemer’s expansion was also of interest to the trade media, with Becker’s covering it with three highly flattering “Insights.”

Many healthcare providers think that paid advertising is the only way to build their visibility in a local marketplace.  Of course, it certainly won’t hurt.  But think of the brand battles out there on billboards, radio and TV.  In Philadelphia, it seems the biggest advertisers are our many outstanding healthcare providers.

But don’t overlook the power of public relations and the credibility delivered by news media covering your healthcare provider brand in action.  Do you agree that the consumer earned media coverage of Holy Redeemer’s Richboro expansion is solid proof of its newsworthiness?

There’s Still Time to Make Changes for 2019

Take Stock. Break Bad Habits & Do Better

In 8 Bad Habits to Avoid in Healthcare Marketing this week’s guest blogger, Rob Rosenberg of Springboard Brand and Creative Strategy, warns “Avoid defaulting to old habits that weaken your position, both personally and professionally.”

Do you agree that the poor practices Rob advocates you change are often present in today’s health system marcom operations?

They reminded me of my first position in provider healthcare. My title was Public Affairs Staff Associate and I worked in the market’s dominant three hospital health system. I was one of three in the department. We had all the health system service lines divided among us. Thinking back, I don’t think I was ever present at a business discussion. But I did perfect my newsletter skills. –Lisa Simon

Click here to read the Guest Blog

 

Remembering the “Social” Aspect of Social Media

How to Use Social Media to Build Meaningful Relationships with Patients

Social media has evolved into one of the most important ways businesses across all industries can connect with consumers, and the healthcare industry is no exception. In fact, one recent study showed that 57 percent of people choose their healthcare providers based on their social media presence – proving how integral social media is to the overall patient experience.

While most providers know how vital social media is to their success, many find themselves still struggling to truly engage with their followers. In an effort to prove their level of prestige and experience, they often focus too much of their content on clinical topics and forget about the human, “caring” side of healthcare.

So, how can healthcare organizations build meaningful relationships with their followers by bringing back the social part of social media? Below are a few tips to help healthcare providers tap into their emotional side and establish lasting connections with their patients.

 Showcase employees.

When selecting a doctor, patients tend to choose a physician who they feel they can trust and build a connection with. While most doctors don’t have time to get to know their patients during appointments, social media has created another way for them to become more of a familiar face outside of the office.

One example of this is client Holy Redeemer Health System’s recurring “Practitioner Spotlight” social media series. Back in July, we published a blog post about how we use this series to highlight a different physician each week by sharing a photo of the doctor and summary of his or her practice, experience and hobbies. This series still garners the most engagement from followers compared to the rest of Holy Redeemer’s posts, as it allows them get to know their doctors beyond what’s listed on the website.

Share patient-centered content.

Posting relatable content is one of the best ways a healthcare brand can engage with consumers – and there’s nothing more relatable than posts involving other patients. When a provider posts about its patients, it helps followers “see themselves” in the content and feel as if the organization understands who they are as a person.

Along with the Practitioner Spotlight series, content that showcases patients receives high levels of engagement on Holy Redeemer’s social media pages. From photos of an “Eagles pep rally” held in its maternity ward before last year’s Super Bowl to an article about a puppy parade visiting residents at one of its senior living facilities, sharing positive patient stories allows them to consistently resonate with followers in an emotional way.

Use a professional and empathetic voice.

In addition to learning more about a provider, people often reach out on social media because they are worried about something related to their health. While it’s important for providers to show that they’re knowledgeable, it’s just as crucial to be empathetic when talking to their followers, as well. Patients look to practitioners as trusted resources when they aren’t feeling well, so using a professional and comforting voice will help them feel less hesitant about seeking care when they’re experiencing health issues.

Be as responsive as possible.

One of the most important, yet forgotten aspects of a brand’s social media pages is that they act as a way for consumers to have direct communication with the organization. If a business doesn’t respond to its messages or comments – especially negative ones – it can create the impression that it doesn’t truly care about its followers.

Whenever possible, aim to respond to any negative comments or messages within an hour of when it’s posted. Even if you don’t have the necessary information right away and have to give a “non-answer,” responding promptly will help patients believe that their concerns are heard and being taken seriously.

When used correctly, social media is one of the best ways for healthcare providers to connect and build relationships with their current and prospective patients outside of the doctor’s office.