SHSMD: What to Expect During the Largest Health Care Systems Conference of the Year

Health care is currently experiencing an enormous shift causing disruption throughout the industry. From mergers and consolidation to hospital systems expanding patient offerings and consumers expecting a new level of experience, the health care climate is currently in a highly disruptive state.

SHSMD healthcare trends

This week, I’m attending the Society of Healthcare Strategy & Market Development Connections conference in Seattle. It’s the largest gathering of health system communications and marketing experts from around the country. Every year, SHSMD Connections hosts the event of the year for health care marketing, communications, business development, and strategic planning professionals. In previous years, I’ve walked away feeling inspired to adapt to the evolving health care communications field to better serve our clients at Ketchum, and I know this year will not disappoint!

Here are a few trends I’ll be listening for to learn more:

Strike the word patient. We’re all consumers.
We all live in a world personalized to our every need. Our expectation is that every brand knows my wants and desires – sometimes better than I know them! How do health care brands respond? How can they evolve to understand their patients as consumers? And, how do they drive loyalty in a time where brand loyalty means so much less? I’m interested to learn how health systems are navigating these changes, particularly as there is more pressure to grow service lines and meet quality standards so reimbursement rates are met. I’ll be listening for how health systems are using data and technology to get smarter. Everyone wants the Amazon experience. Health brands know they don’t have a lot of time to figure it out.

Crisis: It’s Just a Matter of Time.
Unfortunately, health systems across the county deal with devastating events. From public health crises to mass-victim incidents to internal mishaps. It is always surprising to see how many of us get caught unprepared. I’ll be listening for how health systems are learning from each other. How they’re preparing in real-time. And how they’re training doctors, nurses and staff as they navigate a 24-hour news cycle and a world dominated by social media. And, I’ll particularly be listening for how they are integrating their plans across every facet of the business.

Rural Hospitals. Can they survive?
Having grown up in a rural part of North Carolina, including being born in a small community hospital, I find the debate around the survival of rural hospitals fascinating. No doubt, these hospitals are disappearing and joining large hospital systems. There are many positives to this – access to more specialists, technologies and resources. But what is lost because of this consolidation? How are health systems communicating? What are they doing to learn the communities? How are they communicating with patients? Are there lessons large health systems can learn from these rural hospitals? It seems like the health system that can answer these questions and can serve as a model for many.

This is just the tip of my list. There’s much more this year’s SHSMD Connections conference will offer. Connect with me here to keep up with the conference highlights, and look out for another post-conference blog on the trends and points of view that resonated with attendees.

Visit the SHSMD Connections website.