August 3, 2021

How To Get Patients To Choose and Engage With Your Brand with Jared Johnson

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About the Episode:

Today’s healthcare consumers have high expectations of their providers, and if your health system doesn’t meet those expectations, there are plenty of competitors consumers can turn to. Our guest, Jared Johnson, is the founder of the Shift.Health Content Network, host of the Healthcare Rap Podcast, and was named the Medigy HITMC 2021 Marketer of the Year. He is here to share his insights on how to get patients to choose and engage with your brand.

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About the Podcast:

The Engaging Healthcare Podcast by Stericycle Communication Solutions features conversations focused on the challenges, trends, innovations, and hot topics of the healthcare industry. Hear industry experts share their approaches to transforming healthcare and give fresh perspectives on the future of value-based care.

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Mark Angus: “Welcome to the Engaging Healthcare Podcast presented by Stericycle Communication Solutions, I'm your host, Mark Angus. We're providing you with insightful commentary on the healthcare industry's challenges, trends and hot topics. To learn more about how we help modernize patient engagement and maximize patient outcomes, head over to StericycleCommunications.Com. Today's healthcare consumers have high expectations of providers, and if your health system doesn't meet those expectations, there are plenty of competitors consumers can turn to. Our guest, Jared Johnson is the founder of the Shift Health Content Network, host of the Healthcare Rap podcast and was named the Medigy HITMC 2021 marketer of the year. He is here today to share his insights on how to get patients to choose and engage with your brand. Jared, welcome.”

Jared Johnson: “Oh, Thanks so much, Mark. So happy to be here.”

Mark Angus: “Well, thank you for joining us. We appreciate you giving your time to be part of this podcast today. I'm really excited to hear what you've got to say and what you've got to share. My first question to you is, there's no doubt that the pandemic has altered how patients interact with providers. What do you feel is the biggest mistake health systems are making today in terms of patient engagement?”

Jared Johnson: “That's a great question. And, you know, I think I'd answer it quite differently a few months ago. But I think you're right. This is definitely evolved really quickly, and it changes from month to month. So I should probably say, first and foremost, that anyone listening, I feel for you. I mean, this is not an easy job to figure out. I think there's a general consensus out there that those in any type of, you know, marketing leadership or patient engagement role at all, anything related to that, that those are some of the hardest probably the hardest jobs out there right now, especially like in the C-suite. This is not an easy thing to figure out. And so I'm glad you asked my thought. If you're talking about, like the biggest mistake, I would say that it's this might kind of come out of left field, but I feel like it's not totally understanding all of our competitors. Now what I by that is that it's how do we make healthcare choices today? I think sometimes we talk about healthcare choices as if there's something that the most consumers think about on a regular basis. You know, that we wake up and we think, OK, what health and wellness choices are going to make today? We kind of plan for them that way, though, like in boardrooms, we think that consumers are going to make choices rationally, you know, like we're selecting from a restaurant menu or maybe we're buying a car. The fact is, most healthcare related choices are made in a relatively short amount of time. They're unplanned. There's a lot of emotion involved. And we don't typically have all the information we need, like right at our fingertips to fully understand all the options. So I would say we don't make healthcare choices rationally, very often. And so if that's the case, then we have to approach our competitive landscape differently. Right we have to realize that the competition for a certain healthcare choice that I as a consumer, I'm trying to make, if I'm thinking from a hospital, I can't act as if my only competition for that patient is other hospitals. You look at digital options for things now. Now, we have so many options for telehealth, for virtual visits. We have retailers that are smelling blood in the water. I mean, this was just recently, of all places we've all heard a lot about retailers like CVS, Walmart and even Amazon and Google and Apple, you know, all the big players that are trying to get in the retail health game. And then just recently, we had Dollar General of all stores. They just announced they hired a Chief Medical Officer, and they plan to be this big force for healthcare in rural markets. And it kind of sounds laughable, I admit, you know, you hear about a store like that, but that's probably what we all said about CVS and Walgreens when they first announced plans to get into healthcare more. And the fact is, all of those added together probably eat at the hospital's margin in a way that we really can't laugh at it anymore. So I think it's just that realization that we're not just competing against organizations like ourselves anymore. You're also competing against a patient, taking no action at all. And that's a really big choice, too. So in terms of branding, messaging and campaigns and outreach and the types of brand we're putting out there into the world and types of engagement that we're hoping for, we have to realize it's a lot more widespread than we maybe first realized.”

Mark Angus: “That's pretty good points. And I'd like to follow up on that, so what do health systems need to do differently to engage with patients?”

Jared Johnson: “So first and foremost, you know, we kind of build off this thought of understanding our competition better, right? So if the thought is, how do we get people to care about our brands, so that they do recall us in that situation, and that they even consider us over something like taking no action at all, we really have to do a very targeted job of engaging and making a brand relevant. We have to really open our eyes to the full scope of choices that consumers have. And that literally means when we're doing our strategic planning, our strategic marketing, that it isn't just, hey, the other health system here in our market, because there are all these other choices, so literally, starting with our planning, we need to understand that, like we need to list somebody not choosing to take action on this at all. So if it's like for a surgery, you have to understand, people might choose something other than even getting that surgery. If it just doesn't feel like all the process it took to make that decision adds up. That's one of the biggest things. How do we do that? Well, we have to realize that we've got to listen more and we've got to ask more. We've got to conduct primary customer research where we're the ones asking consumers, not just what did you choose, but how did you make your choice? You know, we have to learn about the circumstances they were under and how those circumstances have changed. I think if anything, we've learned over recent months that consumer sentiment changes very quickly, and there's a lot of things that we can't control. So we have to conduct research often and realize how often and frequently it changes. And sometimes, hopefully it's not another pandemic any time soon. We all hope for that. What we can see is that we're going to keep seeing new players come into the market and they might not be traditional healthcare providers, but they're going to try to take away some of those choices, something in primary care. It's going to be urgent care provider. Who knows what the next player is going to be or who they are going to be. We have some ideas, but they keep coming out of left field. So we have to be prepared for that. We have to ultimately realize who our competition is, what those choices are. And from there, then we can start building out a lot more messaging, and a lot more realistic brand campaigns.”

Mark Angus: “That's great. And I think from what I'm hearing from you is the key is to be targeted, to be adaptable, its certainly what I've got from what you said, but in addition to which, the research part intrigued me, how often then would you say that a company should be conducting that type of research?”

Jared Johnson: “I don't know if there's a one size fits all. There I would just say more frequently than you're doing now. So, like, one example is early on, I'd say probably three or four months into the pandemic, I saw a number of research coming out that talked about consumer sentiment towards virtual visits, for instance, towards telehealth visits. How much do they like it? And then two to three months later, I was seeing other research that was very different. The numbers were very different, then a lot more people had had a virtual visit, but for instance, that didn't mean that they necessarily would pick that or that would be their preference if they still had the option to do in person. Again, you know, that they were kind of having a “meh” experience. You know, it was OK, but if they were given the choice, again with in-person visits, that they might pick that again. So it changed a lot within like two to three months. And of course, yes, it's hard to compare anything to what happened in 2020 but that would be my thought, more often than you think now.”

Mark Angus: “Yeah, hopefully. So And keeping the pulse certainly on what's going on and what patients are engaging is really important in that regard then. So it leads me to my next question, as today's healthcare  consumers continue to expect more from healthcare providers, what strategies of technology do you believe are crucial for health systems to keep patients loyal to their system?”

Jared Johnson: “Ooh, I love without question. It's a great question. I'll stay on the strategy side of this here for a moment. I feel like this hasn't actually changed, that nothing in the recent history of the world of anything we've been having to deal with in the healthcare world has changed this at all. I think we just have to make healthcare easier for people to engage with, and that has to do with every Single touch point that you put out there with them. And yes, a lot of it's not in your control. If you're in a marketing role, a senior marketing role, you're typically not the one who owns all of the platforms and all of the data about every patient. It's often connected to or lives in your E.H.R. for instance, that's usually owned by the CIO or the CDO, their Chief Digital Officer, depending on how your structure is set up. So there's a lot of connecting the data and those platforms to create an experience that is ultimately, the thing that leads somebody to come into your healthcare organization and engage and become a patient. And those are a lot of little things that just aren't maybe the shiny object to follow. But I'm telling you, if we spend more time using design thinking, using human centered design principles to make healthcare easier, to make it less scary, to make it more informed, more trusted and more convenient, that's who I firmly believe is going to win in the next 5 to 10 years of healthcare, because that's what we as consumers have done, more and more and more is compare our healthcare experience to experiences we have in every other aspect of our lives, and that is not an easy thing where you can just start running some campaigns to change someone's mind because they're going to be thinking about and critiquing every part of the process. So what happens not just when you get to the parking lot? Between there and the time you check out, like that's all important, that's part of your patient experience, but we can't forget the rest of the experience that led up to that and happens afterward. For most who are not chronic patients who have to keep coming back and who have ongoing care for those who are not chronically ill and have conditions that we're having to treat on a regular basis for most other people, you're not dealing with anyone in the healthcare system on a regular basis. And so what makes a brand relevant during that time? What makes it something that you want to engage with during that time? It's probably the experience that you had the last time you engaged with it. So the last time you were a patient, that's most likely the thing you're going to remember. So how can we make that a little easier? How can we make that more convenient? Those are the questions, I'd be asking. That's what would be informing my strategy. And I would be testing that and prototyping things over and over again, using actual feedback from real consumers and use that to inform it, rather than just saying, hey, we've got a platform, we've got things set up, let's just keep using the same messaging. That's just another part of it, too. We are letting our brands become less relevant through generic messaging. Consumers want to be engaged with people who they feel are helping them stay healthier. And so if your message is too generic to make people feel that way, then you could lose out to somebody else. So those are just the parts I tend to think about when we talk about how do we strategize moving forward.”

Mark Angus: “Fascinating. Thank you very much. Really interesting points. I got from that is the memorable experiences, creating those memorable experiences. Right is really what's important. And that what differentiate your brand.”

Jared Johnson: “Yes, 100%.”

Mark Angus: “Jared, thank you. This is being very insightful. We really enjoyed having you on the podcast today. Thank you for giving your time and for being part of today's podcast.”

Jared Johnson: “Thanks so much, Mark. It's been a pleasure, as always. A lot of fun to talk about this stuff and just help us realize how we can take healthcare to where it needs to be tomorrow.”

Mark Angus: “Absolutely thank you very much. Thanks for listening to the Engaging Healthcare Podcast presented by Stericycle Communication Solutions. Continue the conversation by following us on Twitter and LinkedIn. If you enjoyed the podcast, be sure to subscribe. Until next time.”

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