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HCIC17: Weird and Wonderful

by Sara Foster | Nov 03, 2017

The Annual Healthcare Internet Conference (HCIC) has never been held in Austin, Texas until this year. After our experience in Austin, it will not be the last time there! We tried our best to “keep Austin weird” and we know many of the attendees did, too. Whether you attended the conference in person or virtually via the Twitter hashtag #HCIC17, we hope you will enjoy this recap of a great time in Texas.

Where to start? How about with the city of Austin? This was a perfect setting for a late October conference! The location of the JW Marriott was ideal – just a couple of blocks away from the river walk and the bat bridge and many other interesting destinations. The JW Marriott itself was spectacular. The downtown setting was convenient to so many places, and the service was superb. And the hotel had lots of great meeting spots. According to Greystone’s own Kathy Divis, the chilled, eucalyptus-infused towels in the hotel’s fitness center were beyond awesome and something she plans to try to duplicate at home.

This year’s conference kicked off on Sunday afternoon, October 22nd, with Let’s Talk Conversions, hosted by Greystone and Healthgrades. Over 100 provider attendees were engaged by presentations from:

  • Kathy Divis from Greystone and Rob Klein from Klein & Partners, who gave a summary of the 3rd Annual State of Healthcare Digital Marketing 2017 survey.
  • A panel that included Neal Linkon from Children’s Hospital of Wisconsin, Todd Stogner from Integris and Allison Wendorf from Tufts Medical Center, and was facilitated by Drew Diskin (who lived up to the “when in Rome, do as the Romans do” concept by wearing a giant cowboy hat and chaps). The panel discussed Web Strategy, Digital Marketing, CRM and Building Conversions. We greatly appreciate Allison for stepping in as a last-minute replacement for one of the scheduled speakers. She did a great job!
  • Kevin Lao from Google, who spoke on Micro-Moments: The New Battleground for Brands. Kevin’s presentation was quite lively and really engaged the audience.

Monday opened with four pre-conference sessions. Attendees could choose a three-hour, deep-dive session on website re-design, content, mobile apps or social. After lunch, the concurrent sessions started. This year, there were eight educational tracks of concurrent sessions – the most ever at HCIC. Most of the sessions were well-attended, and attendees were very engaged on the topics.

The five keynote presentations were well received and brought on a lot of buzz. Another new feature this year was the “tossing mic” – a padded cube that contained a wireless microphone that could be safely tossed around the audience to enable their questions to be heard by all as well as recorded for the Rewind recording of the entire conference. We’re grateful to our keynote speakers for their enthusiastic participation in this interactive feature!

Another new feature to the conference this year was a roundtable networking luncheon. Attendees chose a table based on the topic to be discussed (there were 42 options) and had the opportunity to discuss the topic with peers while eating lunch. Each table had a facilitator to guide the discussion. The response to the roundtables has been positive and it will most likely be seen again at HCIC.

The Twitter discussion was fast and furious during the conference. From Sunday, October 22nd through Wednesday, October 25th, there were 5, 847 tweets containing the conference hashtag from 2,683 participants – that’s an average of 70 tweets per hour! Overall, there were 10.239 million impressions. One of our favorite tweets came from Scott Mowery (@scottmowery) who wrote: “Craziest stat I heard at #HCIC17: 6 gallons of spit were gathered by 10k test subjects in <48 hrs in a @renownhealth research study.”

Here are some thoughts about HCIC17 from Greystone:

  • CRM is growing in importance but is also a source of concern. Digital marketers are struggling with CRM implementation and demonstrating success. They still believe in CRM, and in fact are more invested than ever, but they are frustrated by the time it takes to truly leverage CRM, integrate the data, and demonstrate ROI. They are desperately seeking good advice, case studies and examples, and a better understanding of the resource demands for CRM. One concurrent session devoted to a panel discussion on preparing for CRM in 2020 became quite lively, showing that people in our industry have CRM on their minds.
  • Not surprisingly, there is much discussion about the evolving role of marketing in healthcare. Marketing is clearly moving closer to Technology and “MarTech” is a commonly used term. But organizations are struggling with what this means in terms of staffing, resources, hiring individuals with appropriate skill sets, and organizing the New Marketing Department to be successful in this new digital era. Everyone agrees that this is where we are going and that it is critical to the future, but they don’t know how to get there. Nearly every presentation I saw touched on this issue in some way – in particular, around getting the right resources in place.
  • There was a greater emphasis this year on truly revolutionizing healthcare. While marketing may not be the only leader, it will play a big part in completely changing how consumers learn about, research, and ultimately choose their care. In addition, digital marketers see the value of “right message, right time” communications for helping patients on their care journey. We heard a lot of talk about how digital marketers and communicators must be at the table for redefining the healthcare delivery model.
  • The Next Generation – we are seeing a shift to a new generation of thought leaders in this space. The new thought leaders are not tied to CMS and web page development. They are thinking about data integration, SEO, social media, meaningful analytics and how those tie to conversions, they care about the voice of the digital consumer and are building functionality around consumer and patient needs. The new thought leaders want to blow up the old models for digital marketing and do something different/revolutionary.

For more commentary on HCIC17, check out these blogs:

HCIC17 was a truly memorable experience that we hope everyone in attendance enjoyed. We are so grateful to everyone who attended and to the exhibitor and sponsors who made it all possible. Thank you!

If you missed this year’s conference, or you want to share the sessions with colleagues, Rewind will be available in December. For more information on getting the recordings of all the conference sessions synced with the slide decks, visit https://www.hcic.net/virtual-education/rewind.

Be sure to mark your calendars for November 5-7, 2018 and join us in Scottsdale, AZ, for the 22nd Annual Healthcare Internet Conference at the Westin Kierland Resort and Spa. If you’d like to speak at next year’s conference, the Call for Speakers will be available in January!
  • HealthCare Marketing
  • healthcare internet conference
  • #HCIC17

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