Chris Boyer, Senior VP of Digital and Creative, Revive Health, outlines the need to create a personalized experience for every health seeker and the tools needed to build an effective strategy around it. Learn the most common areas where hospitals are struggling with CRM and digital strategy, how EMR plays a role in marketing—not just clinical care, the challenge of breadth vs. depth in expertise, how to connect multiple platforms to create a truly customized digital patient experience, and where health IT companies fit in.
Air Date: June 30, 2016
Guest: Chris Boyer, Senior VP of Digital and Creative, Revive Health
|Clarity Quest personalized videos
|Introducing Chris Boyer
|Keys to a hospital’s CRM and digital strategy
|Patient experience and how health IT can improve it
|The role of health IT tools in the digital patient experience
|Collecting patients’ social media accounts for the EMR
|Stop thinking about digital separately
|The challenge of depth vs breadth of expertise
|His #1 tip for health IT marketers
|Bonus question: If you could join a rock band or music artist for a day, who would it be?
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Jared Johnson: Hello, my friends and welcome again to the Health IT Marketer podcast, the podcast that tells the story of innovation and health IT. I am your host Jared Johnson, your pilot on this crazy rocket ship called health care. This is the first and only podcast dedicated to you, to the health IT marketing community. Welcome aboard.
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Okay, listeners, I’ve got a treat for you this week. I am on the line here with Chris Boyer who’s the senior vice president of digital and creative at ReviveHealth. Chris, good morning to you. How are you?
Chris Boyer: Hey, good morning Jared. Doing good. Happy Friday to you.
Jared Johnson: Yeah, happy Friday to you as well. I am pretty sure I know the answer to this question but it’s got to be cooler where you live than where I am right now. I’m not even sure I want to admit what the temperatures are today here in Phoenix. How is it up on your side of the country?
Chris Boyer: Yeah, my side of the country is Minneapolis and it is a very pleasant spring like . . . I’m sorry. Summer like day today. So yeah, a little cooler than where you are but spring, summer is here. I keep saying spring but summer is here now so looking forward to it.
Jared Johnson: Oh, man. If it even feels like spring at all, then yeah. I think you answered my question there pretty well. It’s pretty obscene. Ask my friends out there. I’m the one who brags about the weather the other nine months of the year but man, we’re in the middle one of these little heat waves and that’s pretty bad even for us.
So anyway, I wanted to start out and give the audience a little chance to hear a little bit more about you. Why don’t you tell us a little bit about your background and man, what you’re doing in your current roll? I mean, you’ve had a really cool road to where you are now.
Chris Boyer: Yeah, yeah. You and I’ve known each other for a while through the road. So yeah. So currently, I’m the senior vice president of digital and creative at Revive Health and we’re an integrated marketing communications and digital agency that support hospitals, health systems, health IT companies, health services companies across the country and really focusing on how they can optimize those solutions. But how I got here is I worked at two large health systems along the way.
Initially, I started at Inova Health System in Washington DC where I ran their digital marketing communications department, a smaller team. Then I moved over to North Shore-LIJ which is now Northwell Health in the New York area, a 22 hospital integrated health system. Again, running their digital, marketing digital communications team and that’s like a wide spread team that involves not just websites and social media but also CRM, marketing automation, the entire technology stack, so to speak, that marketing communications team were using.
Jared Johnson: So at Revive now. You’ve been there a little over a year I understand. Is that correct?
Chris Boyer: That’s right.
Jared Johnson: Okay, so in that year, what’s the number one thing that’s stood out to you in terms of the work you guys have been doing with your clients? I mean, what are you clients looking for right now?
Chris Boyer: It’s really exciting to see that there’s a tremendous growth around trying to implement strategic digital technologies, digital solutions that set apart a wide variety of communications needs. It’s not just marketing anymore, it’s not just marketing and communications and PR.
What we’re really starting to see is that our clients are focusing on how they can develop their technology, their website, their CRM, integrations with their electronic medical records systems and really to start to understand the 360 degree voice of customer, to understand the patient experience to their digital tools. And we’re working with a lot of clients on how to implement these enterprise wide digital strategies to help them do that, to give them the intelligence that they need to be able to work with their various stakeholders.
It’s not just health seekers patients and family members. It’s referring physicians, it’s all the various stakeholders that are in the community and developing a consistent digital footprint to be able to understand and react better to what their needs are.
Jared Johnson: Well, let’s dig right into that. When we’re talking about strategy, what would you say are the keys to a hospital’s digital and CRM strategy? I want to make sure I include both of those elements in it. So what are those keys to a strategy and what are the most common areas where hospitals are struggling?
Chris Boyer: Yeah, well, I actually helped coauthor a paper about where I feel the future of health care marketing communications is going. It’s around personalized marketing and in there I identified some of the core technologies that are required to do that. That speaks to not only what we feel the keys are but where some of the challenges actually are surfaced.
When you talk about personalized marketing, really what you’re looking at is developing a way that you can understand the people that you interact with, that they’re no longer anonymous interactions, that they’re now people that you can actually identify and start to understand their preferences and their unique needs. In order to do so there’s huge opportunity to develop a technology digital and a CRM approach that allows you to get that, to be able to track that, to track preferences, etcetera.
So the four core technology we identified as being critical to make that happen is obviously, you need a good, advanced website. A website that is not only all of the things that you need for a website, which is responsive and has the ability to do distributed content publishing on it, but you also have to have a website that can start to respond and integrate with these other technologies that are key and critical.
The second is CRM. You need a good CRM so that you could start to understand and track the interactions that you have with these individuals. So in health care and hospital space there’s a number of CRMs that are out there and all of them have unique value propositions. Understanding which ones are the right one for you to start to measure the interactions that you have and by extensions, a CRM that is PRM, physician relationship management and even ERM, employee relationship management tool so you can track your employees. So the fourth technology is that CRM piece.
What’s also critical is interaction and understanding of the patient experience. So we say the electronic medical record system, the electronic health record tool, so EMR EHR. And being able to tap into that data and start to utilize that data to start to not only communicate with them in a promotional sense but also start to communicate with them after the point of care or even to support their care as they go through the care process and that becomes critical.
And then the last tool which is the one that we feel is also important is marketing automation programs. Marketing automation programs, they’re just starting to be surfaced in the health care space and that’s becoming very critical. If you look at this on a context of where the marketing automation stack lies and I use that term a lot, what we mean by that is that your website, website, the social media, all of these things are great ways for people to interact with you.
But honestly, if you have a good, strong CRM that’s integrated with your marketing automation tool, that’s integrated with your website and also the backend data is interfacing with your electronic medical record, I think that’s the sweet spot of the digital strategy moving forward for hospitals and health systems.
But that’s also where the struggle lies. What I mean by that is that if you can think about that, every tool, every one of these major platforms are a huge investment to organizations and the interoperability between them and that’s a buzz term in this HIT space, interoperability.
But the interoperability between all of these tools and then communication between all of these tools is where there’s a lot of disconnect. Many of these technology vendors, they’re building silos. So they’re trying to do all in one and really, honestly, there’s no one single tool that can meet all of those needs. So we work a lot with organizations, with our clients on helping to identify best in breed in their technology so they can achieve their marketing and business objectives with their digital tools.
It’s a really high level painting of what the struggle is. But I think that when you think about technology, it’s becoming critical to all of operations and particularly to point of care. Even though care is delivered face to face in many cases, having that digital infrastructure to start to understand all those interactions and be able to have a deeper picture of what those interactions are and how they affect individuals and households becomes critical for organizations moving forward.
Jared Johnson: So you mentioned patient experience as one of those core needs for the strategy. I’m seeing that a lot of people have different definitions of patient experience to begin with and no surprise especially if we’re thinking about the clinical side or the IT side or the marketing side. We each have different definitions of that. So what’s your definition of patient experience and how do we improve it?
Chris Boyer: Right. That’s a good question and your observation is indeed correct. If you asked what patient experience means from a clinical side, it’s a lot different than from let’s say a web marketer side, than HIT side or what have you.
Honestly, my definition is a little bit more inclusive. Any touch point that you have with a patient or an individual that’s affecting that patient, I call them health seekers, patients or even patient family members, is a critical part of the patient experience.
So that could be not only what their experience is when they come into your facility, if they have care, but also care with your doctors not within the hospital facility, in your ambulatory, outpatient, ancillary services. All of those are critical to understanding the patient experience and what that looks like. But also, how they interact with you online through their website or if they’re paying a bill or maybe they’re interacting with your patient portal, all of those impact the patient experience.
So to me, really, when you think about the definition of patient experience, it’s understanding how individuals that are experiencing care with your organization, all of the various touchpoints that they’re interacting with and how to optimize those touchpoints to provide a continuous stream of communications and care frankly, from one place to another.
So let’s say for example, you’re dealing with . . . let’s say urgent care is a great touchpoint for a lot of individuals and that can almost be the first touchpoint that people have with your organization but with many health systems, that’s not part of the health system. That’s maybe a partnership with a retail urgent care, but that interaction becomes very important. Then there’s this buzz term of continuum of care.
Well, the continuum of care can lead after that experience at that urgent care to maybe an online appointment reminder to follow up with care or with the primary care doctor or maybe it requires them to interact with the pharmacy or maybe there is any kind of imaging follow up or what have you. And through that whole paradigm is to understand all of those various touchpoints and develop a continuous understanding of that experience.
Patient experience, I honestly feel, is critical and it’s really hard. It’s a big challenge for organizations. Where should that fit? That’s why they’re building separate people, separate silos around how do we understand the patient experience. I think that honestly, in the health system world it’s understanding the entire continuum of experiences across digital, across face to face, across everything. That’s kind of high level, isn’t it?
Jared Johnson: It is. So hey, we’ll dive down a little bit here in one aspect of that which is the health IT side and when we think about tools, I mean, all the discussion in health IT does surround tools specifically in parts of the patient experience. So the EHRs you mentioned, remote monitoring tool or virtual health or wearables. So there’s the hardware and the software associated with that.
And you’re right. If we keep thinking about that as a silo separate from clinical care then, yeah. Then we’re going to continue to come up with solutions separately. So what are the roles of those types of health IT tools in the patient experience and is there an early adopter advantage that outweighs the risks? Because there are a lot of risks to move forward with tools like that.
Chris Boyer: Well, all of these things have roles in the health IT space. I have roles in the patient experience as well. When you think about it, a lot of health systems are focusing a lot on their EHRs, and I think that’s important because that’s your operating system of all your care.
But when you think about the users, if you put it in the framework of the patients, they have a myriad of tools available to them now like Fitbits. I wear a Fitbit. Your phone keeps track of your health. Whenever I get on my bike, my bike syncs with my information and all of that becomes very important too. And those things, I don’t consider them technically part of my patient record, so to speak, but it should be if you think about it.
And so developing those interactions, the data flowing between wearables, between virtual health. Virtual health is a great opportunity. But we’ve been going into it in little baby steps because really what we’re focusing on is “So how do capture that into the patient record?” But why aren’t we capturing your Apple iPhone, your health application into that?
I think some organizations are doing that but what’s going on is there’s this retailization of technology and then there’s the systemized versions of technology and they’re two separate systems. And quite frankly, the people that are looking at optimizing like Map My Ride which is the app I use to ride my bike. That has a great user experience and it’s really designed for me to use.
It’s very easy but getting that data interacted and interoperable within my patient record is a little bit challenging because we have a division between what is formally a patient record and what is not. I think that that’s where an opportunity is for early adopters to start to develop those integrations and we’re seeing some cool things around that.
I’m also a type 1 diabetic and there’s a number of apps now that allow me to manage my glucose and my blood sugar through the app. There’s even tools that are being developed to actually sync it directly with my glucometer so I can actually have that seamless integration. But your touchpoint, my primary touchpoint is through my phone honestly, if you think about it, which I think your phone is one of the most important technology devices that requires that integration and we’re seeing more and more of that integration occur now.
Being an early adopter in this, there are some advantages but there’s a lot of risk because, quite frankly, the field is wide open here. And we as health systems, as we look at it from the health systems perspective, we like things like EHRs that are more formalized because it’s safer. We understand the security of that patient record. When we start interacting with other devices, other tools and open it up, even having open APIs to these other technologies, what happens is it gets risky. The data sharing gets risky, there’s a lot of vulnerability involved with that. But the insights you can gleam from that are significant.
And then I’m even seeing some research facilities now that are going into collecting patients’ social media accounts so they can actually keep track of that because social, quite frankly, carries a lot of good, meaningful information around your health record that could relate to your health record. And there are organizations that are even going into that realm to start to adopt that but it’s all such new, virgin territory for us.
I think that at the end of the day we still worry about the risk of that record, we worry about consistency of data among those records. But when we see them happen, it’s happening in a very much episodic way. A very point of, like individual pieces of care. I think ultimately we’re moving towards this master sharing of common data language around our information and I think that’s where the future is going. But there’s a lot of hurdles we have to get to before we get there.
Jared Johnson: You’ve described how hospitals need to stop thinking about digital separately.
Chris Boyer: Yeah.
Jared Johnson: Instead of not just being a tack onto their current strategy, but how it’s really at the core of what they’re doing. So how do hospitals start doing that?
Chris Boyer: Yeah, well, it’s hard because things like digital, things like the thing we’re talking about, interoperability and all of this stuff, it requires some people with deep expertise. You can’t have, let’s say a health care marketing department suddenly become able to sync data between a social media record, a Fitbit, electronic medical record, what have you. You can’t even expect the IT departments in the hospitals to do that right now. That requires a really deep, consistent expertise.
So we have this challenge of, there’s a promise of the breadth of what digital can do and if you think about digital in the broader context, digital should not be thought about separately by these organizations. Digital should be common. We should all have to have a consistent message, a consistent understanding of the broader approach to how digital can be used to support all of what we’re trying to do. But then the challenge is that in order to implement on those, you need people with the depth of expertise.
So it’s the challenge of the breadth versus depth or the horizontal versus the vertical expertise. So I think that when we talk about digital not being thought of separately what we’re really talking about is the strategic implementation of digital, understanding that there are opportunities to integrate and sync the digital pieces. I think that that has to become common and consistent among all people that interact with a patient.
So I’m talking even further than just the digital marketer. This could be the nurse that could be sitting there, monitoring or dealing with a patient. Could be thinking “Oh, I wonder if there’s a good opportunity here to improve this with a digital interaction,” or having that kind of understanding. But then what you have to do is you have to be able to, on the back end, prioritize and be able to then identify resources to actually execute on that.
So we work a lot also with organizations right now on how to set up the infrastructure to do that. Have broad understanding of digital across their health care marketing and communications department. But then, how do you also set up the team to actually execute on these great ideas and that becomes really the challenge there. But I think that that’s where the future is.
And that’s what we say when we say “Digital shouldn’t be thought of separately.” It should be strategically thought of as continuous because ultimately digital is a part of our lives now. I mean, you and I are talking over digital. I think everyone interfaces with digital things seamlessly now and we don’t even know it and that’s really where the future is and all of us have to, in an organization, understand that.
Jared Johnson: What’s your number one tip for a health IT marketer?
Chris Boyer: Well, first of all, I mean, understand that obviously, I think they all understand this. These solutions are going into a very complex infrastructure and that infrastructure is complex in so many ways. So I always say to them when we work with our HIT clients and we say to them “Look, you’re client, the people that you’re actually going into these hospitals and health systems, they’re dealing with very complex and often legacy systems that are Frankensteined together. So anything you could do to improve that, make the interaction between the tools that much easier.”
I think the tools themselves are important but it’s how those tools operate within a larger infrastructure is going to be even more important. The services, how do you use all the great information that your tool provides between that? And we work with a lot of companies that actually are spending time on that transport of data in between systems. So that’s the first thing.
The second thing is, the second advice I would give them is this, is that your user is not as sophisticated as you are. So you’re either talking to people in the IT department which are very much risk adverse and they don’t want to implement these tools, or you’re talking to the C suite or the marketing or the people that actually see that change and they don’t understand the technology implications of that.
And so what I recommend is, make sure that you have a way to address both of those challenges. How do you make it easier on the IT person so they’re not at risk, so it’s not that much of a disruption to their lives but how do you also serve that promise where the future of HIT is going?”
Jared Johnson: Hey, Chris, you’ve given us a lot to think about and I appreciate the time here and I do have time for one more question. That’s our bonus question which is the fun one. It’s if you could join any rock band or music artist for a day, who would that be?
Chris Boyer: Oh, my gosh. That is a good question. It might sound like a cop out but the Beatles definitely. I know that there’s only half of them still around but to be in the time of the Beatles, and I’ll be even more specific.
At the time when they’re doing very much experimental music in their studios, around the Sergeant Pepper’s, White Albums phase because that to me, is just like, that music is just fascinating. And to think that they were really pushing the edge of the way musical sound could be. To me, that’s fun because it appeals to both my creative edge and also my tinkering edge because I like to tinker around and figure out how things get done.
Jared Johnson: That’s great and I’m glad you mentioned which phase of Beatles it was because it is different and you can tell how timeless it is. I can throw on just about any Beatles tune and my little kids, they will just start jamming there. So if it’s as timeless as their stuff will always be, that’s how we know they really are as classic as we like to think they are.
Chris Boyer: Absolutely.
Jared Johnson: So that’s fabulous. Well, Chris if our listeners want to get a hold of you, you want to let them know what’s the easiest way to do that? I know you’re on Twitter. What’s the best way for them to reach you?
Chris Boyer: Best way, well, yeah. Twitter for sure. Chris @chrisboyer is a great way to get a hold of me. I do try to tweet out on a regular basis. You can also reach me through my email. CPB, standing for Christopher Paul Boyer. CPB@thinkrevivehealth and you can always send me an email. I also have a website, christopherboyer.com you can go to and just learn a little bit more about me and figure out where I’m speaking next.
Jared Johnson: All right. Well, hey, I appreciate it. I will let you go back and enjoy some of that cool, spring like weather today. I appreciate the time here and thanks for joining us.
Chris Boyer: Hey Jared, it’s been great talking to you. Thank you.
Jared Johnson: Well, that wraps up the program this week. Let me know your thoughts, send me a shout out @jaredpiano on Twitter. Jaredpiano. You can also leave me a review and subscribe on iTunes, on Stitcher Radio or on Podbean.
Ladies and gentleman, remember it is up to us to tell the story of innovation and health IT and remember to build your audience one gig at a time. Until next time, I’m Jared Johnson and you’ve been listening to the Health IT Marketer podcast.
This program is sponsored by Clarity Quest, marketing experts who speak fluent health care. For a full archive of previous episodes, you can go to HealthITMarketer.com. That’s HealthITMarketer.com. Thanks again and I’ll talk to you again next time.