HITMC, where ya at? Updates from the 2018 conference in New Orleans


April 2018

I’ve just decompressed from the industry-wide team-building exercise officially known as the Healthcare IT Marketing & PR Conference—henceforward HITMC, pronounced “hit-mick”—and there’s a lot to unpack from those three days in New Orleans.

Can I possibly recount everything I heard, learned and experienced at HITMC in a tight 1000 words? No chance. But I’ll do my best to share the highlights.

Full disclosure: I’m working from 25 pages of handwritten notes. Since I didn’t record any of my conversations or sessions, all quotes that follow are paraphrased to the best of my memory. If I’ve misquoted you, please contact me and I’ll fix it pronto.

Wednesday at HITMC

I left O’Hare with snow crusting the ground, but soon I was networking poolside in short sleeves. And I’ve never had an easier time talking with total strangers.

Why was everyone so friendly? Maybe it’s the sweet bayou air, but I think it’s something about this organization. The C in HITMC doesn’t just stand for “Conference”—it also stands for “Community,” and that’s not just a re-branding exercise. It’s really the way this group operates. I mean, they have two mixers before the conference even begins.

The people around me may have been StudioNorth customers, or prospects, or partners. They may have been our fiercest competitors. But this week we were all fellow travelers, working and learning together.

The highlight: I was chatting with Claire Pfarr of Oneview Healthcare, a company that consolidates health IT systems onto one platform for better patient experience and easier management. She told me about her own experience flying to New Orleans, with insight you can only get from a fellow marketer:

My seat had an ashtray built into the armrest. Now I don’t care if you have the best pilots in the world, and the plane’s been outfitted with the newest engines and the latest technology, but that ashtray makes me feel like I’m flying in a 30-year-old crate. That’s what lots of hospitals still don’t get about patient experience.

Claire Pfarr

Oneview Healthcare

Thursday at HITMC

John Lynn“One success from one HITMC company could potentially turn into a $25 billion opportunity and save hundreds of lives,” proclaimed HITMC founder John Lynn during the keynote. Yet, Customers don’t care about you or your product. They don’t even care about their own company. They only care about the problem you can solve.”

That’s the crux of HITMC in a nutshell—mastering the journey between grabbing a health system decision-maker’s attention and turning health IT innovation into world-changing success.

But that journey is more challenging than ever. John shared some results from HITMC’s recent survey of 50 members that show no consensus about what works and what doesn’t. (You can download our own take on these results here.) The good news: The “cycle of saturation” lets savvy marketers adapt older tactics to certain audiences even as new ones emerge.

Some more of the day’s sessions and highlights:

Moving the Needle through Research-Driven Brand MarketingJill McDonald Halsey described how her team rebranded Lawrence General Hospital, based on extensive focus group and telephone research, to challenge Mass General and other Boston-area behemoths.

What the Funnel? Despite the “noodle funnel” StudioNorth Social Marketing Director Stacy Goebel touted during her keynote intro, Sarah Bennight of Stericycle Communications Solutions demonstrated that a traditional “high-to-low” funnel model can generate excellent results. How? Create content that can be repurposed six ways from Sunday, and make sure your sales team knows how to use all of it.

Panel—the Future of B2B Healthcare Marketing. Four accomplished healthcare marketing pros weighed in on everything from account-based marketing (consensus: we’re still figuring it out) to how millennials are reshaping marketing communications (they’re not from outer space, they’re just less likely to read your white paper).

Highlight: Burt Rosen of Healthsparq described his teams’ tactics that break the typical healthcare marketing mold. One example: the remarkable patient-generated content of What’s the Fix?

Getting everyone buzzed

Hey, it’s New Orleans, right? But I’m not talking about the evening’s Bourbon Street party. I’m talking about our digital GameBuzz platform, set up to entertain HITMCers between sessions with interactive games customized for the event with content about healthcare, health IT and New Orleans.

As expected, the fun got feisty with StudioNorth Events Experience Director Debbie Knighton running the show. But when she passed the controls to a somewhat hungover hosting novice—yours truly—the fun didn’t slow down a bit.

Key takeaway: Anyone can run GameBuzz and make their event more engaging, more educational and more flat-out fun.

Friday at HITMC

I Can Say That? Aligning Marketing and Legal. Matthew Fisher and Jared Johnson described the legal considerations they negotiated to help Phoenix Children’s Hospital successfully livestream a child’s surgery. With parents, insurers and hospital stakeholders collaborating throughout the process, the video prompted 12 new patients with the child’s condition in the next 90 days.

Jared Johnson's Healthcare Rap

Highlight: Johnson’s “Healthcare Rap.” Not even kidding.

Auditing Your Marketing Department: A No-BS Framework. Christine Slocumb talked about the benefits of holding campaigns up to ongoing empirical scrutiny at Clarity Quest Marketing. The process helps identify and remove fat, and keeps you out of the trap of sounding like everyone else. “Marketing can be the glue, or it can be the cholesterol.”

Lurking in the Shadows: Dark Social Media. What’s up with all that traffic showing up in Google Analytics as “direct”? It’s most likely the result of people sharing your content through email or instant messaging, but Tina Shakour of Red Bird Marketing shared ways to figure out how those folks found the content in the first place—and how that knowledge can drive your social campaigns.

Lessons in Live Video. StudioNorth’s inimitable Stacy Goebel and Executive Producer Eric Pound livestreamed this session about livestreaming. They shared their hard-won secrets of planning, executing and sharing a live social event, including what to do when things go wrong. Because, let’s face it, they will.

Highlight: I know I’m biased, but I’m still blown away by the results we’ve gotten from our live social video efforts:

Live video is watched three times longer than they watched pre-recorded videoLive video commented 10 times as much• Events received 12,000% more shares than text or image posts

So that’s my report from HITMC 2018. (Here’s a link to all the decks from the conference.) I couldn’t quite bring it in under 1000 words, but that’s HITMC—more networking, learning and fun than three days can reasonably contain. Let the positive KPIs roll!

Jeff Segal

Jeff Segal

Senior Copywriter

Senior Copywriter Jeff Segal writes blogs and social content for several SN clients, while crusading tirelessly against the words provide, quality, strive and utilize.

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