Marketing General

Meet the 2020 Marketers of the Year

We are only a day away from the 2020 Medigy HITMC Award Ceremony (June 30th). We are excited to be celebrating the creativity, innovation and ingenuity that our incredible healthcare marketing and PR community continues to deliver.

Speaking of creativity, innovation and ingenuity –  this week we spoke with a few of the individuals who embody all of these things. This esteemed bunch is being recognized for their outstanding work and achievement as a marketing, PR or communications professional from a healthcare provider organization, health IT company or healthcare agency.

So sit back (and take notes), as we hear from our Marketing Person of the Year honorees.  We asked them about the work they are being recognized for, their impact in the industry, the trends they are keeping an eye on and much more!  Here is what they said:

1. What project are you most proud of from the past year?

Claire Pfarr, Communications Director, Evideon
Who even remembers February 2020 (let alone February 2019)? It feels like years ago. In February 2020 I was ordering cute gold flats online so I would have something professional and comfortable to wear during those long hours at HIMSS (while rehabbing a broken ankle so no heels for me!) It’s surprisingly difficult to remember “normal” marketing activities and what they looked like. But when I think about it, even though the past year seems more like the past decade, it turns out, I have a decade’s worth of pride, too.

I accepted the role of Communications Director at eVideon during that time, which has been a great journey in and of itself. But during my time here, I’ve taken great pride in learning about the company and how each member of the team perceives the eVideon brand and the directions they want it to go. We’re incredibly fortunate to have a small, hard-working group of true innovators. eVideon had recently brought on Jeff Fallon as their CEO and formed an advisory board of brilliant thought leaders to help guide the company in growth. So to come into a marketing role there in the midst of a time of rejuvenation and rapid development has been an invaluable experience. Being the new kid on the block, I certainly didn’t want to disrupt the great work that was already being done while still finding the direction of eVideon’s voice in the market. So I asked all of eVideon – every employee – to complete a personality test of sorts to learn what they felt the eVideon brand was and what it should be. It provided great insights into how much the team cares and feels invested in the company, and where they see us going. The results really helped me (with our subject matter experts and leadership of course), find the story of who we are and the value we bring to our client partners. With clear and actionable feedback from the people who are the eVideon brand every day, we’ve been able to refresh the eVideon look and feel (without a full rebranding), bolster our social media efforts, and begin to really shape our digital content strategy. Watching it take shape (and playing a vital role in it) has been incredibly rewarding, and I’m proud of that work.

Selfishly, I wish this nomination would have come a year later because wow – in the past couple months there’s even more to be proud of!

Personally, I’ve made a conscious investment in keeping my communication skills sharp in other areas because I think having well-rounded experiences improves all aspects of our lives in an interconnected way (says the oboe player/teacher/writer who learned long ago the value of extracurricular activities and arts education in developing a sharp mind!) For a number of years I’ve helped people and organizations with their communications goals because I’m so passionate about it. But last fall I finally decided to formalize that expertise as a bit of a personal branding exercise. I’ve provided guidance and services to some folks throughout healthcare IT, but elsewhere too including a hockey moms podcast and a consulting group for non-profits. Those extra experiences have given me a lot of new insights, a unique lens into other industries, and a lot of pride.

Suzanne Hendery, Chief Marketing, Public Affairs, Community Impact Officer, Renown Health
Being able to engage our community and our 7,000 team members, to distill the essence of our organization down to 2 words- ‘hope’ and ‘determination’-is something that brings me such pride. I feel honored – and humbled- that the Chair of our Board of Trustees, our CEO, lead physicians and nurses, and team members, along with our research and agency partners, all came together, and worked for hours- brick by brick- from Feb 2019 to February 2020 to solicit our community members to research, test, build, implement and measure a campaign, “Fight the Good Fight,” that unified our community and our organization, and given people the inspirational message of hope and determination to live their best lives. The results exceeded all our expectations, and reminds me that anything that “people help to support which they help to create” will be successful.

Larry Kaiser, Vice President of Marketing, Optimum Healthcare IT
I am personally most proud of the brand refresh that we launched in Q2 of 2019. When I joined Optimum Healthcare IT in June 2016, my job was to build the marketing function from the ground up. The plan put in place was a gradual roll-out of content development and thought leadership to steadily build the brand. I believe that any brand should see some form of a refresh every 24 months. Our refresh began in late 2018, and we rolled it out in April 2019. We touched almost every facet of the Optimum brand, including the website, which was the focal point. I also wanted to up our content delivery game, which we successfully accomplished. This project involved every member of my team, and the results speak for themselves.

David Elstein, Senior Communications Specialist, American Board of Orthopaedic Surgery
The American Board of Orthopaedic Surgery (ABOS) launched a podcast in January and I am its host. While podcasts have become pretty common for much of healthcare, it is rare at medical boards. As far as I know, we are currently the only board to have one. We are able to cover stories that we normally would not feature other ways or would not be as effective. For example, I conducted an interview with an orthopaedic surgeon who became ABOS Board Certified in 2019. In his own words, he explained how he successfully passed the ABOS Part II Oral Examination–what hints he had to those who would be taking the examination in the next year or two. It would not be as powerful if it was an article in an e-newsletter. Our Board is made up of 20 orthopaedic surgeons and one public member. I interviewed the public member and he was able to explain what his role is in a much more effective way than if I were to write about it. I have a lot of fun doing this and often learn something new.

Lorraine R. McGrath, Director of Marketing, Signature Healthcare
We embarked on a safety campaign roughly 4 years ago to do our part in helping reduce the number of preventable medical errors in the United States. Our CEO, the driver of this organizational priority, asked the marketing and communications department to support this culture change. Honestly, not knowing much about how to support this change in culture was scary as usually our department jumps right in to support the identified organizational strategic priorities. Seeking out other healthcare organizations that have similar organizational priorities and required culture change, we learned best practices and then “signaturized” the initiatives was of the utmost importance. Not only did we learn what worked in other organizations, just as importantly we learned what didn’t work. This allowed us to create a marketing and communications strategy that had positive data built into the plan. We hired a marketing agency partner, Jennings who helped design the visualization of the plan. The plan and executions have been ongoing without a break for the past 4 years. The campaign is located in employee back rooms, locker rooms, break rooms, staff restrooms. Targets were placed where employees would reside not so much in patient-facing areas. The campaign must be ubiquitous in order for the employees to understand this was not a temporary goal, but rather a shift in the culture of the organization. Safety is never going away and during this pandemic has proven to be a well-regarded and useful tool in the fight of the unknown. It provided all SHC employees with a common language, tools and proven theories to help them lean-into this unknown healthcare crisis and innovate new solutions for patient safety first. I feel as marketers we have had a positive effect on patient safety without actually doing direct patient care. Marketing programs and campaigns are developed and executed 3 times a year to keep the message fresh, supportive and ongoing. This is very different than most patient-facing campaigns that have a beginning, middle and end which makes this work more challenging but rewarding.

Jennifer Jennings,  Vice President, Anderson Interactive
I’m personally proud of the launch of our agency’s radio show, Overrated & Underused with my host colleagues Tom Testa and Adrienne Stoner. There was a lot of time that went into the planning and research for the show – including developing the format, topics and segments – not to mention the recordings (and retakes 😊). They say authors should write what they know and we’re following that same advice as we take on the most overrated and underused promotional tactics in healthcare public relations, marketing and social media. I’m really proud of how the first few shows have come out, and look forward to inviting other industry experts to join us for future episodes.

2. Overall, what impact do you feel your work has had on your clients and/or healthcare in general?

Claire Pfarr, Communications Director, Evideon
Our clients and healthcare would probably be better equipped to answer this, but I sincerely hope that my work has shown healthcare clients and prospects that there are people who care on the other side of the screen. I learned very quickly that eVideon’s client partners know and love our team’s responsiveness and service. But being a small company, the rest of the world may now have known that. That’s definitely a work in progress that the whole team is continuing to focus on, for sure. Sometimes in healthcare it’s hard to show personality and humanity without being silly or flippant, so a lot of organizations don’t even want to try. Healthcare is a matter of life and death, literally. But that doesn’t mean everything we do needs to be a 45-page technical handbook. Healthcare is serious, yes, but it’s also incredibly personal. It’s personal to patients and the longer I’m in healthcare the more I learn it’s personal to care teams, too. Doctors and nurses put their lives on the line, but they also put their hearts on the line. They want a partner who listens and collaborates and feels their pain. They want someone who laughs with them, too. I hope that my work at eVideon helps put the heart, twinkle, and personality that the whole team embodies out into the market so people can see who we are, not just what we are.

Suzanne Hendery, Chief Marketing, Public Affairs, Community Impact Officer, Renown Health
As a “champion for people and great ideas,” my greatest joy is that my profession and organization encourages me to make a genuine and positive difference in the lives of others every day. Whether it is helping a client, my organization, or my team member- I am honored to have devoted my life and this profession to helping people, to serving as an advocate and voice of our customers, and for making an impact on others by reducing the anxiety and confusion of health care experiences, by ensuring that people receive compassionate and clear communication- online and in-person.

Larry Kaiser, Vice President of Marketing, Optimum Healthcare IT
The work that we do at Optimum Healthcare IT has impacted both our clients and the industry in a positive way. Whether we are creating PSAs during the health pandemic, case studies, infographics, webinars, or content for our blog, we strive to publish relevant, informative, and comprehensive content. As leaders in the industry, the subject matter experts who contribute to the content we post, are educating and informative. Our blog being honored as a nominee for Health IT Blog of the Year is a testament to this.

David Elstein, Senior Communications Specialist, American Board of Orthopaedic Surgery
I believe strongly in Board Certification. While we work with orthopaedic surgeons, our goal is to protect patients. I take this seriously. Several years ago, one of our biggest marketing initiatives was to let the general public know what ABOS Board Certification is and why it is important. We created a microsite as well as several high-quality patient videos to explain to other patients why they chose an ABOS Board Certified orthopaedic surgeon. It is one of the projects I’m most proud of.

Lorraine R. McGrath, Director of Marketing, Signature Healthcare
Marketing is the conduit between the healthcare providers and the patients. We build an open line of communication by building trust while creating interest in their health and our expertise. Trust today is more important than ever. Patients have a plethora of questions about their safety in healthcare and elsewhere; some may have never thought of safety before now. Luckily for Signature Healthcare this has been an organizational priority for years led by Mr. Kim Hollon. We have been communicating our safety and quality record to the community for some time and now we are enhancing and improving our processes that have been in place to keep patients even safer in our facilities.

Jennifer Jennings,  Vice President, Anderson Interactive
My hope is that our agency’s impact goes far beyond brand visibility. For our consulting relationships, we keep a strong focus on business operations and demonstrating a return on every investment clients make with us. Often this means educating and guiding marketing contacts to think beyond tactical marketing results and see the bigger impact that these decisions can have on product/service sales, employee recruitment/retention, social change/community impact, and finally the growth and success of the company as a whole.

3. What are you looking forward to learning in 2020?

Claire Pfarr, Communications Director, Evideon
In 2020 I’m looking forward to learning what we’re going to do with this new landscape we’ve been thrust into unwittingly. To (poorly and inaccurately) quote Heavy D, “Now that we’ve found telehealth, what are we gonna do with it?” It’s time for us all to get over the telehealth shock and start thinking about what’s next. Ok, so we don’t have to bring every patient into a building every time. Old news. What else? What about the patients who do still have to go into a building? What are we going to do for them and how are we going to make that experience safer from a COVID-19 standpoint? How are we going to streamline processes and remove potential contaminants? (I may be biased, of course, but here’s a hint – lose dry erase boards, markers, and erasers, for starters.) We’re already starting to see cases creep back up again, so it’s not time to ease up on the gas, it’s time to punch it. In my role, I look forward to articulating those solutions and singing their praises because they’re going to play a big role in how everyone in healthcare does their job.

Suzanne Hendery, Chief Marketing, Public Affairs, Community Impact Officer, Renown Health
As the daughter of a university professor and cultural anthropologist, I’m always looking to learn. To meet the people, immerse myself in the culture, understand the social mores. Then to do the research, see the data, understand the analysis. I go through my day looking at the world in a way that tries to decipher experiences and people-and better understand how they impact the world, so I can work creatively to heighten experiences. In 2020, I hope to learn how people and businesses are resolving the gaps in service that we all encounter every day. I am especially interested in how healthcare is provided in other countries- and how they communicate. The joy in my work is to be able to constantly “talent scout” new people and ideas from other fields and then translate them back in to action at Renown Health. I am a fan of those organizations and people who provide a consistently excellent experience, and understand and respond to service recovery issues—24/7 online and in person.

Larry Kaiser, Vice President of Marketing, Optimum Healthcare IT
2020 has sure been interesting so far, hasn’t it? At the midway point, I am looking forward to learning how healthcare will continue to evolve amid the current health pandemic. We have already seen a lot of technology usage that previously was slow to be adopted. Telehealth, for example, once an industry buzzword, is now a necessity. I am excited to see and learn how other technologies will become essential for healthcare organizations to provide the best patient care. What will be considered the “new normal” is still developing, and I am looking forward to seeing it evolve.

David Elstein, Senior Communications Specialist, American Board of Orthopaedic Surgery
While much of our marketing has been with either ABOS Board Certified orthopaedic surgeons or those who are working to obtain ABOS Board Certification, I’m making 2020 a focus on reaching out to residents. Previously, residents often didn’t know about us until their last year of residency, when applying for the first part of the Certification examination. I want to proactively reach out to them. That’s the macro level. We are also working with residency programs on several new initiatives so I’m reaching out to them–and the programs–on why these initiatives will help the residents and patients. A big part is learning effective ways to reach residents and the programs and how is that different than reach surgeons already ABOS Board Certified who may be 10, 20, 30 years or more older than residents.

Lorraine R. McGrath, Director of Marketing, Signature Healthcare
Listening and learning is key to successful marketing outcomes. Better understanding our audience’s needs especially today as healthcare marketing strategies tend to lag behind other consumer-centric industries. Consumers have multiple ways to engage in their healthcare but what will work for them and the providers is paramount to building a plan that is supportive for all stakeholders. Post COVID recovery efforts are underway, but are they the right mixture of what the patient needs and wants? What is next on the horizon or the new healthcare normal? How has our audience changed? These are all questions we are discussing and developing appropriate strategies. I look forward to putting this puzzle together.

Jennifer Jennings,  Vice President, Anderson Interactive
We’re all just looking to expand our skill sets wherever possible. My role at Anderson has shifted to include agency operations alongside client work, so in 2020, this means learning new ways to strengthen the bonds between our staff when in-person conferences, holiday parties and team-building trips may not possible.

4. What would winning Marketing Person of the Year mean to you?

Claire Pfarr, Communications Director, Evideon
I struggle with this question because of the specific words “to you.” My first thought was “it means someone liked something I did,” but that’s not what winning Marketing Person of the Year would mean to me.

To me – and again, it’s certainly personal and folks may disagree – it means that the years I’ve spent following my instincts have been years well spent. I didn’t choose marketing; marketing chose me. So for a time it was difficult to navigate with confidence. It is actually not a joke or hyperbole when I say I started my career in the mailroom. There have been many steps along the way, but each step seemed to be accompanied by someone saying, “We need you here. You belong there,” because people around me kept recognizing something I didn’t even know I had. I’ve loved each new “here,” and they all added marketing knowledge until I couldn’t deny any longer that I’m a marketing/communications professional. Maybe even a good one! So I started proactively using the confidence I’d collected along the way to back my own ideas and thoughts. Sometimes they’re crazy. Sometimes they’re the bad kind of crazy that leads to blank stares. But sometimes they’re crazy enough to spark a new conversation that leads to something totally different from my original idea, but totally great and worth celebrating. I’ve had great mentors along the way who believed I could do it and who helped me do it. So winning Marketing Person of the Year, to me, means I do belong “here.” And it’s a wonderful place to belong.

Suzanne Hendery, Chief Marketing, Public Affairs, Community Impact Officer, Renown Health
It would definitely be a WOW, and a reinforcement of a life and career well lived. Not just for me, but for my mentors, team mates and communities who have supported my ideas, vision and ways of doing things. Especially through controversy and when it was unpopular to do so. So many people have stood by me and encouraged me- even when it put their own careers on the line. Early on, it seemed revolutionary to leave the conference room to go to the diner- to ask our customers what they wanted, engaging them with providers to build it, and then letting them tell their stories- and seeing the results through their eyes and experiences.

Larry Kaiser, Vice President of Marketing, Optimum Healthcare IT
I am honored and humbled to be nominated for this award. Receiving this recognition would be the culmination of all of the hard work and dedication that I have put into my career in healthcare IT. More than anything, this award would be representative of the work that my team at Optimum Healthcare IT has done. Their work has enabled us to do some amazing things. It is a privilege each day to work with such an amazingly talented group of people. After 15 years in Healthcare IT, this role and this team have allowed me to do the best work I have ever done.

David Elstein, Senior Communications Specialist, American Board of Orthopaedic Surgery
For most of my career, I’ve worked with other marketing and communication professionals. For my five years with the American Board of Orthopaedic Surgery, I’ve been a one-person shop. There is nobody else with a background similar at all to me. While leadership appreciates what I do, it will be great to get my peers to acknowledge my work–others who know the work it takes to make a successful program work

Lorraine R. McGrath, Director of Marketing, Signature Healthcare
There really isn’t a sole person who is totally responsible for achieving such an accolade. The marketing and communications work is done by the entire team, all contributing to the objectives and believes strongly about the vision and mission of Signature Healthcare. The work is also strongly supported by the management of the organization especially the CEO. I feel this would be an honor for the organization to achieve this award and would solidify its mission and vision for healthcare in the community while solidifying the importance of marketing in healthcare.

Jennifer Jennings,  Vice President, Anderson Interactive
Winning the Medigy Marketing Person of the Year would be amazing – especially considering the two powerful influencers I’m up against in Beth and Ryan! I’m truly proud of the success I’ve achieved with my clients and our agency in the past year, so an award like this salutes not only the public-facing end results, but all the hard work, long days and sacrifices that had to happen behind the scenes to make this possible.

5. What healthcare marketing trend are you keeping your eyes on?

Claire Pfarr, Communications Director, Evideon
I am waiting for the next big explosion in webinars and virtual events. I know there’s a creative idea just waiting to turn virtual events upside down in a great way. I sincerely wish I could be the one to come up with whatever idea that ends up being, and I’m always wracking my brain to try to find “that thing” that will really make webinars more worthwhile and meaningful, but unfortunately I haven’t got it yet. If I do, I will gladly accept a nomination for Marketing Person of the Year 2021 😉

Suzanne Hendery, Chief Marketing, Public Affairs, Community Impact Officer, Renown Health
Artificial Intelligence and Chat bots. The experience of them is becoming so good, and so refined- that it is difficult to know when you are talking online with a real person or a bot. In any case, being able to order exactly what you want, when you want, and get a follow up message about your experience is brilliant—and I hope to capture that magic for our customers, and to extend limited staffing with additional resources.

Larry Kaiser, Vice President of Marketing, Optimum Healthcare IT
I am keeping my eyes on two trends at the moment. First is how vendors are going to adjust for future events. Events such as HIMSS, CHIME, and User Group Meetings may not be able to hold 100% in-person events. How is this going to affect organizations such as mine that sponsor and attend? There are a lot of questions that need to be answered. Second is video consumption. My team and I have been creating some short teaser type videos for our case studies, but want to continue expanding these to showcase more of what the company can do. How people consume content continues to evolve, and as marketers, we need to evolve too.

David Elstein, Senior Communications Specialist, American Board of Orthopaedic Surgery
I’m curious how COVID-19 and the “new normal” will affect us as marketers. We’ve already changed our programs a bit to deal with COVID-19 and have done a lot of marketing and communication to make sure that orthopaedic surgeons know about these changes. How will COVID-19 affect our programs–and the marketing of these programs–in the long run?

Lorraine R. McGrath, Director of Marketing, Signature Healthcare
There are a number of different patient care methods that have been developed to enhance the patient experience and improve the healthcare delivery system. Utilizing the technologic learnings from other industries, we may be poised to offer health care in different ways than ever before. Electronic/Digital solutions could prove to move more quickly in healthcare. We must have an open mind, benchmark with similar service industries and pilot the learnings to achieve a more improved delivery system and patient experience. A system that provides effective options for the patient and providers while keeping patients, staff and the community safe.

Jennifer Jennings,  Vice President, Anderson Interactive
The easy answer is the impact of virtual events – which has to top everyone’s focus these days. But I’m also very interested in the bigger picture of how COVID-19 will change other aspects of our industry – from day-to-day client interactions to the delayed timing of product launches. From the rebuilding of the sales process from the ground up to the potential for another “HIMSS-less” year. The only thing for certain is that it will be another compelling year of new possibilities.

Photo by Giorgio Trovato on Unsplash

 

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Brittany Quemby

Brittany Quemby

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The Healthcare and IT Marketing Community (HITMC) is an extension of the HITMC conference that is the first of its kind event that brings together marketing and PR professionals from throughout the health care community. We strive to provide amazing marketing and PR related content that helps HealthIT companies and healthcare organizations  stand out amidst all the noise of the industry. If you’re looking to market to hospital executives, doctors, practice managers, patients, or other healthcare professionals, you’ve come to the right place. Welcome to the HITMC community!