Digital Marketing Marketing Technology

Personalization, Social Media and SEO Top Marketing Advances of Last Decade

A lot has happened over the past decade in healthcare marketing. We have seen the explosion of marketing technology (MarTech), the rise of social media platforms as a viable advertising medium and of course the growth of content-based programs.

Marketing departments have also undergone a transformation over the last ten years. We used to be the “make it look/sound pretty” department, but that changed as more data science and analytics began to be applied to marketing programs. Through data we began to understand buying behaviors and prospect actions. We could tweak subject lines, layouts and frequency and see the impact on open rates, clickthrus and signups.

In short, Marketing moved from being a back-office function to being a strategic one and that has been the biggest highlight for me over the past decade.

As we bring this year and decade to a close, I thought it would be fun to ask a cross-section of members of HITMC for their highlights. Below are their insightful answers.


Social Media – Pam Landis, VP Digital Engagement at Hackensack Meridian Health

Social media stands out for me over the past decade. The impact that social media has had on connecting like-minded and like-situated patients has made navigating the complexity of care more tolerable. For those patients with rare diseases, chronic conditions and serious acute ailments, I’m heartened by how they are using social media platforms to connect, communicate and collaborate. I also see in these platforms that patients are using their voices and collective power to ensure they are at the table in the design and delivery of care. These online patient communities are forcing all of us in healthcare out of the ivory towers, labs and treatment rooms to meet them in their space. And that’s a good thing.

Online Reviews – Suzanne Hendery, Chief Marketing & Communications Officer at Renown Health

Publicly posting real patient reviews of employed doctors within health systems. It’s been years since the landmark report was published stating a patient’s view of the quality of their physician and care was paramount, and I tip my hat to all those health systems and medical practices who now use the technology to demonstrate this level of transparency- publishing the good and the not so good comments in order to help physicians improve their relationship skills, and helping other potential patients find the best physician for their needs and values.”

This has been such a transformational year- we’ve spent time understanding our customers, their needs and wants, and with the data-driven insights, our Board, CEO and senior leaders have heavily invested in our Marketing, Communications and IT teams, technology and platforms to improve the healthcare experience. Now, we just have to build them!

Personalization – Elena Ivanova, Social Media Manager at InterSystems

Over the last decade, we’ve inched closer and closer to the idea of relevant, targeted and personalized marketing, rather than the traditional broadcasting approaches of the past. It’s become quite scary, actually. I think what’s really interesting here, is that initially as consumers we didn’t see the implications of how companies would use all of the data we generate, and the vulnerabilities exposed from a security and privacy perspective.

From 2019 what I will remember most is podcasts, they have really taken off. Everyone is listening to podcasts, and companies are putting together their strategies to tap into the audience.

Marketing Technology – Terri White, VP Corporate Marketing at Information Builders

MarTech has exploded in the past decade, but what jumps out at me the most is the need to embrace a bifurcated funnel approach that includes broader demand generation along with a targeted account-based strategy. The content underpinning this approach is key – we have to tell better stories to cut through the racket. Our content must be relevant and helpful or it will be ignored.

2019 was the year where sales and marketing alignment got real, driven in part through account-based marketing and selling, and also through marketing having more accountability for nurturing and converting leads to pipeline and revenue.

Journey Mapping – Sarah Bennight, Director Product Marketing at Stericycle Communication Solutions

For me, the biggest change I have seen in marketing in the past 10 years has to do with how we market. Customer journey mapping wasn’t really talked about in my circles 10 years ago. We just built sales materials that spoke about our products. While content marketing was in its infancy, the idea of mapping content to the buyer journey was not done. Now we build content to personalize that customer journey. Because of this, marketing has become more story-telling and less “me me me”.

What will I remember most from 2019? Well honestly, winning HITMC marketer of the year. But in all seriousness, in 2019 I became the director of a department that runs point on all strategy, so I’ve had to really dive into digital experience and how it affects the customer journey, how search has changed, and how your online presence can make you a more powerful competitor just by appealing to your audience. It’s really expanded my view of marketing from just content into an aligned strategy, and there is a lot for us all to learn and refine into the next decade.

SEO – Chris Slocumb, President at ClarityQuest

Over the past decade, organic search rankings (SEO) have had the biggest impact on lead generation and revenue attribution among our health IT and biotech customers.  Over the past decade, I liked the changes Google implemented in determining authority.  You can’t “game” the system anymore.  You have to have a robust, clear website and relevant, engaging content in order to rank at the top of search results.  This benefits patients and business buyers alike.

Personalization – Brian Mack, Manager of Marketing & Communication at Great Lakes Health Connect

In my opinion, the most dramatic shift we have seen over the last 10 years, impacting literally EVERY industry to some degree, is the rise of micro-targeted, content-based marketing; driven by the explosion in electronic and social mediums.

I will remember 2019 as the year that “person-centricity” broke into mass-consciousness. This idea has been around for a while, but sometimes it takes a concept some time to percolate before coming into its own. As an example in pop-culture, I think the continued fracturing of content distribution/growth of media streaming services is evident of a corporate desire to drive individual demand and monetize individual tastes for entertainment. In healthcare, Don Rucker and Seema Verma’s announcement of their combined Proposed Rules on Interoperability and Data Blocking signaled a significant change in the payer/provider focused approach that HHS had established (with mixed results) related to interoperability and national data sharing. Instead, they put the emphasis squarely on individual patients and assuring their unfettered access to electronic PHI. Time will tell if this approach is more effective than previous efforts, but there’s no doubt that the healthcare community has taken notice.

About the author


Colin Hung

Colin Hung is an award-winning Marketing Executive with more than 15yrs of healthcare and HealthIT experience. He co-founded one of the most popular healthcare chats on Twitter, #hcldr and he has been recognized as one of the “Top 50 Healthcare IT Influencers”. Colin’s work has been published in the Journal of the American College of Radiology, American Society for Healthcare Risk Managers, and Infection Control Today. He writes regularly for Healthcare Scene and here at Colin is a member of #pinksock #TheWalkingGallery and is proudly HITMC. His Twitter handle is: @Colin_Hung.

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