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New insights and ideas can always be found by looking outside our immediate categories. In this case the category is healthcare and the outside role model is Google.

Here’s a really interesting article on Becker’s Hospital Review – The Google Approach: How Hospitals Can Create Cultures That Drive Employee Engagement.  And Google is definitely a company to pay attention to as it relates to engagement – as since 2012, they’ve topped Fortune’s annual list of 100 Best Companies to Work For.

According to their website, it’s a research-based, deliberate approach to every aspect of their workplace – evidenced in the fact that “data is central to everything we do, even when we choose a paint color for a conference room wall or plan a lunch menu.”

Experts on employee engagement and satisfaction say health system and hospital brands can benefit from adapting a similar research-based approach, as data helps you understand the pulse of the organization, which in turn helps to create action plans.

As cited in the article, three steps to fostering engagement are:

1. Gathering data: Engagement improvement starts with surveying employees
2. Forums, huddles and celebrations: The importance of communication and recognition
3. Creating a vision: How to establish an intentional culture

It’s no secret that brand engagement pays off in numerous ways. Engaged employees are more connected, work harder, stay longer and perform better. They also represent the company brand better – which creates happier customers, provides competitive advantage and builds a healthier bottom line (which makes for happier CFO’s and shareholders).

Here again is a link to the article.




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Would people care if your healthcare brand went away? Beyond the business of the clinical care you provide everyday, would your brand’s disappearance make a dent in people’s lives?

Havas’ Meaningful Brands Study is the first global analytical framework to connect human well-being with brands at a business level. It measures the benefits brands bring to our lives – both on a personal level and for the community.

It’s overall findings are sobering – most people around the world would not care if 73% of all brands disappeared. In the U.S., this jumps to 92%.  Beyond these numbers are a couple more statistics that should set you back:

• Only 36% think that brands work hard at improving our quality of life and well-being
• Just 40% of people in the US generally trust brands

The marketplace is so crowded. Noise is coming at people (your patients and your communities) from all directions. They’re overwhelmed, dazed, confused, mistrusting – and tired. They’re yearning for your healthcare organization to do more to improve their life. In fact, 71% think companies and brands should play a role in improving our quality of life and

It’s clear that expectations are failing to be met. But what an incredible opportunity this represents for healthcare organizations. Whose sole purpose is to help people live their healthiest lives. To live better, feel better, play better.

Today’s marketing isn’t about touting features and functional benefits through your words. It’s about actions that demonstrate the difference you’re making in people’s lives through the power of your brand. Understanding that purpose, business goals, social change and social technology are now intertwined.

Recognizing and celebrating these differences is the only possible way to make an emotional connection and to distinguish your healthcare organization from the growing list of others. Because at the end of the day, your brand’s story is the only thing that can truly connect you to theirs.

How do you see it?

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patagonia1 The brands that will thrive in the future are the ones whose essence would remain even if the company ceased to exist – the ones of which the leaders and team members, you imagine, would continue to live and breathe that passion, purpose, raison d’être long after they’ve stopped selling – finding other means to bring their cause to life.

According to this Forbes article, purpose-driven, social brands are the future. “CSR, cause-marketing, sustainability” are must-have departments, which, along with marketing teams, can no longer operate in silos, but must “align to bring a cohesive brand story to life.”  But lest you think this is only about doing good, these purpose-driven organizations outperform the general market 15-1.

Three brands for which I have a personal affinity come to mind as examples.

Whole Foods Market. Whole Foods has become such a prominent crusader of all things health and wellness that to distinguish it as purpose-driven rides on the border of cliché. Nevertheless, it’s a brand I trust and feel confident putting my stamp on.

As a health enthusiast, I rely on brands like Whole Foods to curate and provide produce that align with my health philosophy (organic, non-GMO, allergen-free, etc.). Most recently, Whole Foods dropped Chobani from store shelves, due in part by Chobani’s refusal to meet Whole Foods’ non-GMO standard.

Whole Foods represents a community of people that care deeply about health (and the environment), and as someone who is part of that community, I can feel confident that despite how expansive Whole Foods has gotten, it hasn’t lost sight of its purpose and can be trusted to act in the community’s (my) best interest.

Moleskine. Though Moleskine doesn’t aim to solve “real world” problems – tangible causes such as concern for health or the environment – it transcends the blank pages of its iconic black notebook to the abstract ideas of “culture, travel, memory, imagination and personal identity.”

It brings these ideas, this philosophy to life by not only showcasing user art with myMoleskine (an online community where brand fans can post artwork they’ve created using a Moleskine notebook), but also with its clever use of social media (see #HandwritingDay and Creativity Challenge contest) and collaboration with Evernote – combining digital and analog, and keeping the handwritten spirit alive even when everything is floating onto the cloud.

The Moleskine notebook itself is simple, containing no branding whatsoever – perhaps suggesting that it is not as interested in spreading the word about its products as it is about celebrating the art and ideas that reside within its pages, created by its customers.

Patagonia. Patagonia is the ultimate purpose-driven brand – an outdoor apparel company committed to sustainability and the preservation of nature. How does Patagonia support its cause? The better question is how does it not? Almost as much of the brand’s website is dedicated to its Environment and Social Responsibility initiatives as is dedicated to actual retail and product sales.

Not only is Patagonia completely transparent about the type of materials used in its products, the company chronicles its entire thought/production process, revealing all the considerations on environmental impact it makes in all aspects of its business – from safe working conditions for textile workers, to producing fleece jackets from recycled bottles and recycled fleece jackets.

Patagonia doesn’t stop there – it has even gone as far as telling customers NOT to buy its products. With its Common Threads Partnership program, Patagonia asks customers to take a pledge that they will reduce (the amount of products they buy/consume as Patagonia builds products to last a long time), repair (the company repairs worn clothing and even shows different ways customers can repair on their own), reuse, recycle, reimagine (a more sustainable world).

The paradigm is shifting. Customers want to invest in brands that have a social purpose, that care about the environment, that are transparent and act responsibly. Brands with a purpose are the ones that will last because their customers share their interests and vision, actively support them and are the most loyal. Like Patagonia, which painstakingly ensures that it’s delivering on its promise (protecting the environment) every step of the way, brands should evaluate their raison d’être and work to create a cohesive story – making sure they are delivering on their promise and their passion at every customer touchpoint, in every aspect of their business.

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As you read this, your healthcare brand is being put to the test. Maybe not knowingly, but it is.

Consumers are judging for themselves whether your brands actions are speaking louder than its words.  Beyond their transaction with your healthcare system, hospital, or insurance company, they’re looking underneath the proverbial rock (your messaging) – for “actions” that add real value to their lives. Things that are genuine to your brand’s purpose (because they’ll see through them if they’re not) and reinforce why they need your brand in their lives. Like the experiences and fostering of community that Citibikes provides.

The CITI Bike program – just featured in an article in HUB Magazine – was part of former Mayor Bloomberg’s plan to improve city life by providing new and simpler forms of transportation. Six years since its inception, it’s not only greatly exceeded expectations, but has had a positive effect on the reputation of its sponsor Citi.

According to Edward Skyler, EVP Global Public Affairs, “it has little to do with advertising or promotions. It’s about finding a fresh point of relevance that makes a difference for everyday people – whether they are Citi customers or not.” He goes on to say that “Citibikes is a powerful opportunity for Citi to connect with New Yorkers and help move the city, and the company, forward.”

As a healthcare provider, isn’t this what it’s all about – a fresh point of relevance (in an increasingly crowded competitive set), making a difference for people, connecting with your communities, and moving them, and your organization forward, together.

Here’s the CITI Bikes article.



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Screen shot 2014-02-17 at 8.29.21 AM Apple, Amazon, USAA – and patient centered medical homes? Yes, you can get there from here.  

We recently met with one of our healthcare clients to talk about their forming a patient-centered medical home. But our conversation took a twist when we started talking about the importance of patient experience.

It led us to talking about superb brand experience companies like Apple, Amazon and USAA. Because these companies leapfrog competition by managing their business from the outside in, putting “the customer” at the center of every decision they make. Similar to what’s required for brilliant execution of PCMH.

If you’re not familiar with the concept, in February 2007 the Joint Principles of the Patient-Centered Medical Home were developed by the four largest primary care physician organizations (AAFP, AAP, ACP, and AOA). They include:

1. Personal physician – each patient has an ongoing relationship with a personal physician.

2. Physician directed medical practice – personal physician leads a team responsible for collective ongoing care of the patient.

3. Whole-person oriented care – personal physician is responsible for providing (or appropriately arranging) all of the patient’s care throughout all stages of life and care management.

4. Care is coordinated and/or integrated – across all elements of the health care system and the patient’s community where and when they need and want it, e.g.  through health IT, hospitals, specialists, home health, family, etc., in a culturally and linguistically appropriate manner.

5. Quality and safety – is focused on through patient advocacy, evidence-based practice of medicine, clinical decision support tools, continuous process improvement, use of health IT to measure and benchmark, appropriate and authoritative recognition by a non-governmental entity, and patient and family engagement.

6. Enhanced access – care includes enhanced access through open scheduling, expanded hours, and new patient-care team communication tools.

7. Payment – appropriately recognizes the added value delivered to patients who have a patient centered medical home.

There are always great insights, ideas and lessons to be learned from outside category role models. In this case, it’s because patients (who happen to be consumers) don’t compartmentalize their experiences on a category by category basis. The kind of experience they get from Amazon and Apple and USAA they expect from their healthcare providers. And in the case of the patient-centered medical home, it’s about…

  • a simplified and coordinated health care experience that provides the right care at the right time and place
  • creating a strong partnership between patient and primary care physician (similar to the partnerships between these great companies and their loyal customers)
  • improving health outcomes through care coordination
  • communication that’s central to advising and educating to keep patients healthy
  • giving patients better access to their information, and more contact with their medical team

Delivering the same kind of customer-centric experience that distances companies like Apple, Amazon and USAA from their competitors.

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In my mind, what’s most impressive about CVS’s decision to no longer carry tobacco products in any of their 7,600 stores as of October 1 (beyond the obvious benefit of helping to save lives) is the bold demonstration of a brand actually living its purpose. 

Short-Term Financial Hit, Long-Term Brand Building
Removing these products from store shelves will cost CVS about $2 billion a year or about 3% of overall sales. It’s also possible that competitors like Walgreens and Rite-Aid could gain market share by attracting CVS’s tobacco-purchasing customers.

Regardless, the company is making the right decision given its long-term strategic focus. According to President and CEO Larry Merlo: “Ending the sale of cigarettes and tobacco products is simply the right thing to do, as it’s inconsistent with our purpose – helping people on their path to better health.  As the delivery of health care evolves with an emphasis on better health outcomes, reducing chronic disease and controlling costs, CVS Caremark is playing an expanded role through our 26,000 pharmacists and nurse practitioners. By removing tobacco from our shelves, we will better serve our patients, clients and health care providers while positioning CVS Caremark for future growth as a health care company.”

Why Purpose Wins 
The most successful brands and businesses are aligned around a higher purpose that makes clear the organization’s inspirational reason for being – think Zappos, Whole Foods, Chipotle and Nordstrom. CVS’s purpose, once again, is to help people on their path to better health.

Consider these three study findings that reinforce the power of purpose:
1. 92% of millennials believe business success should be measured by something other than profits (Deloitte)
2. “Ideals-driven” businesses are more profitable than those that just think about the bottom line (Jim Stengel & Millward Brown Optimor)
3. Purpose is a definitive purchase trigger as consumers will praise and punish companies based on their active support of a good cause (Edelman GOODPURPOSE Study)

Actions Speak Louder Than Words
Articulating a purpose is one thing. Consistently delivering on it is another. Which is what’s so impressive about CVS’s decision. But it’s the right thing to do for an organization helping people on their path to better health. A path that more Americans are engaged around than ever before, as we’re asking that all health-related brands, be they products or services (or retailers), help us on the road to promote overall well-being.

It will be interesting to see how many others follow CVS’s lead. And how soon. Will Walgreens, which positions itself as being At The Corner of Happy and Healthy, be next. Though it has taken its own proactive step to reduce smoking addiction through its free, Internet-based smoking cessation program in partnership with GlaxoSmithkline Consumer Healthcare called Sponsorship to Quit.  Or will it be Walmart, who promises us that we can Save money. Live better.

The Opportunity For Healthcare Providers
CVS is transforming itself from a simple drugstore to an integrated health-care provider – positioning itself, and its customers, for healthy growth. But they’re just one of the many brands and retailers taking advantage of the enormous opportunity to help Americans close the gap between their healthy intentions and behaviors.

Who better than healthcare systems and hospitals to assist consumers on their journey to better health? To helping their communities to not only feel better, but to live better. Beyond push marketing approaches to tapping into the power of their healthcare system or hospital brands to meaningfully engage, motivate and actively support their healthy living. Creating uniquely branded experiences, resources and tools guided by purpose. 

What do you think about CVS’s decision?




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91% of Americans have a mobile device within reach 24 hours a day. Through responsive web design, your healthcare system, hospital or physician group website can also be within their reach. 

What is responsive web design?
Responsive Web Design (RWD) is a method used by web designers that resizes a website based upon the resolution you are browsing it in. For example, your smartphone, tablet and computer all utilize different resolutions for their screens. Similar to a widescreen television versus a standard square television, these devices will display things differently. With RWD, a web designer can allow for the site to fill the screen perfectly no matter which device is browsing.

Why responsive design matters to healthcare systems and hospitals
In the past year, 72% of U.S. internet users acquired health-related information online (Pew Research).  Smartphone users (65% of Americans) spend 20% of their time within the confines of a web browser (smartinsights). You might think 20% is small, but that means every five minutes they are potentially spending one minute on your website – either being able to digest your content, or not. RWD allows your users to focus on your targeted efforts instead of focusing on pinching, scrolling and zooming.

From 2010 to 2013, the number of unique screen sizes has increased to 232 unique mobile screen sizes (spyderweb). Combine this with the increasing number of mobile users searching for health information online, and it is increasingly  important for healthcare systems, hospitals and physician groups to deliver up-to-date digital experiences.

Responsive websites and SEO
RWD can also indirectly boost your website’s SEO. Search engines like Google judge websites in a similar fashion that a typical user would. Which means that if someone trying to browse on a website not designed for mobile results in their immediate click back out of the site, Google will view this as a negative and rank said site lower than others. Creating a more pleasurable viewing experience will help insure users stay on your website longer, in turn, raising your SEO.

The future (your future) is mobile
Statista says that 5 billion people will use mobile phones by 2017.  So while your healthcare system, hospital or physician group might be safe for now – your future online is bleak.  If you’re not providing a mobile-friendly experience for your healthcare customers, they’ll bounce off your website and go to your competitor whose website is easier to use. 

Some healthcare systems and hospitals who’ve moved to RWD:

1.   Saint Francis Healthcare
2.   Geisinger
3.   Oakwood
4.   Legacy Health
5.   Catholic Health
6.   University of Colorado Hospital
7.   Altru Health System
8.   Loyola Medicine
9.   Nationwide Children’s
10. Lakeland Regional Medical Center
11. Silverton Health
12. Florida Hospital
13. Einstein Healthcare Network
14. HealthSpan Network
15. Health Innovations Ohio
16. Northeast Cincinnati Pediatric Associates, Inc.
17. Texas Children’s Hospital
18. Newton-Wellesley Hospital

Have you made the transition to a responsive website? Have you seen the benefits from this update?


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Boomers are not new phenomena – they are the population born between 1946-1964 that are responsible for half of all discretionary spending in the United States. What is new is that they will dominate the world population by the year 2050 and on average these boomers can be expected to live to the age of 83 – longer than any previous generation [source: Harvard School of Public Health].

They will not only live longer, but they will lead more active, healthy lives, more independently and on their terms. They are single handedly defining the trends of a “new’ boomer generation and for generations to follow. And, there will be far-reaching implications on every industry, particularly health and wellness sectors who will have to adapt to their changing lifestyle needs, and quickly – as there is, and will continue to be a significant shift in delivery of health care.

So how can health and wellness sectors keep pace? By rethinking the way they interact and deliver solutions to Boomers. Most importantly, understanding that Boomers do not subscribe to a single type of lifestyle, and tend to pick and choose what makes sense for them based on their individual experiences and needs. They are information seekers who love to self-advocate for their health and are open to alternative options of care. They are a society-changing generation like no other and what is required to deliver on their needs matters more than we realize.

What influences Boomers health and lifestyle decisions, and what practices are being adopted to address them?

Demand will continue to grow for care of chronic health conditions, e.g. diabetes, cardiovascular, and joint disease to name a few, with about 60% of boomers experiencing more than one chronic condition by the year 2030 [source: American Hospital Association]. Healthcare providers and government agencies are acting, working on preventative measures to improve the future health of this generation and those to come –cultivating a more-informed, health-conscious society that could help turn back the tide.

  • Digital accessibility to health information has become a key component. With over 78% of Boomers online and their desire to adopt “what’s new and better,” great progress is being made in patient-managed technology including, Government-sponsored web sites; electronic health records, which ease tracking/sharing patient information for doctors; mobile health apps (mHealth) for improved efficiencies of health systems to consumer health management; online health forums; and progressive platforms such as Patients Like Me that are shifting the paradigm with a network that provides an effective way to share real-world health experiences between patients and health providers. One of the early adopters of this platform is the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation.

This generation will continue to focus on longevity and delaying the physical effects of aging.
With three out of four boomers doing what’s needed to lower their health risks and prevent disease, this generation has propelled the fitness movement and mainstreaming of holistic approaches to care. Compared to older generations, fitness and exercise are more culturally ingrained in their minds, and daily routines – it’s a way of life for them and they have motivation. One study showed that active people enjoyed 16 more years of healthy living than did inactive people [source: AARP] – some motivating statistics.

  • The prescription for wellness now comes in many forms. Outside of the digital accessibility discussed earlier, there are more conventional ways in which boomers are finding health and wellness solutions. There’s doctors offices where they can now experience an annual “wellness visit” and have a personalized prevention plan developed to stay healthy – evaluation is from a lifestyle (not medicinal) perspective, e.g. dietary habits, exercise, sleep and other daily routines. And, local drugstores like Walgreens, that are making navigating solutions to health much easier with “store within a store” layouts –where condition based products, such as diabetes management and heart health, are grouped together and labeled with shelf tags. But let’s also not forget that wellness goes beyond physical well-being for this generation. It’s also about one’s mental, emotional, and spiritual health (mind-body-spirit), which has created a steady increase in the popularity of yoga, Pilates, tai chi, and other body-mind fitness disciplines proven to have physical and mental benefits.

The Future Is Diversity

Boomers are not a homogeneous group, and one-size-fits-all solutions will not prevail. Their movement toward self-care to enjoy a satisfying, fulfilling life, coupled with research based evidence on healthy living, is stimulating demand for practical, long-term solutions. The brands that truly take the time to understand the forces that are changing and moving these consumers will succeed. Follow them on their path, become part of their lifestyle, speak to them in their language, and you will join them on their journey.

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Healthcare system and hospital websites can be difficult to navigate, with all the information that different internal teams believe needs to be conveyed. The result can be content overload and lack of engagement and conversion. This is in spite of the fact that patients and families rely on your website more than ever to make decisions about where they’ll go for their care. 

With more and more tools available for web design, it might surprise some that the biggest emerging trend is one of simplicity. Bells and whistles are being used in more tasteful and subtle ways, so that technology doesn’t overshadow story telling or take the focus off of valuable content.

Here are four trends to help you create a cleaner, more focused and more satisfying healthcare website experience.

1) Flat Design: Simple For Strategy’s Sake.

While flat design might seem like a purely aesthetic decision, it is actually a strategic choice as well. Stripping designs down to their simplest form allows you to focus user attention on what matters most, the most important content on your site and the actions you want users to take. Overuse of textures, heavy gradients and irrelevant imagery are distracting and can pull one’s eyes in every direction. This trend can now be seen everywhere, from websites to applications that we use everyday like the operating systems on our phones.

Mediatemple has recently redesigned their site to embrace this trend and the result is a well organized site with a clear hierarchy and focus.

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2) Fewer Navigation Items: Less Options, More Conversion

A recent trend that has emerged has been to remove most of the main navigation items from immediate view on our sites. Many websites are hiding their main navigation bars all together to even further focus the users attention on the main action they would like them to take. While it might still be important to read “our story” or peruse “FAQ’s,” the fact is, these items are secondary to your main call to action and their constant presence on the screen is a distraction from your primary message.

Squarespace does a good job of this. They want to get users directly into experiencing their product. They have just a few core options listed and then a menu button to access the full range of pages on the site.

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While we have not seen the last of navigation bars and won’t for some time, it is an interesting trend that should be considered as a viable option to help further focus user attention.

3) Whitespace: Usability’s best friend

Whitespace is an extremely important tool for designers. It allows us to keep your user’s focus where you want it on the page. It also makes content much easier to read and makes UI elements much easier to find.

Dropbox does a great job of using whitespace in its website as well as the application itself. As a result, everything has plenty of breathing room and is easy to find.

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4) Above the fold: Focused, clean and highly targeted.

Above the fold content is still invaluable to a website’s ability to communicate and inspire action. Users are however more comfortable scrolling through content on the web than they once were. So what has really changed is our need to make sure that a visitor sees all that your site has to offer in those top pixels. This area should be reserved for your most important action or message ensuring the user absorbs it before moving on through your site. Below the fold you can start to tell more of your story and provide more paths for users to take.

Square’s homepage is an extremely effective landing page for the site. It is focused on a single message and action, allowing the user to take in more if they choose to, but not until after they have absorbed the main message.

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Eight indisputable facts that support the business case for marketing to baby boomers – a market of over 100 million people who spend over $3 trillion per year and represent the only real big growth market that still exists.


A division of Trajectory, Boomergy is a strategic and creative consultancy 100% focused on helping marketers win the loyalty of 50+ consumers. Interested in learning more? Call Eric Brody at 973-292-1400 x201.

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