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4 Hot Topics From #HCIC23

Nov 09, 2023

This article was written by Jessica Levco, a freelance healthcare writer who is covering the 27th Annual Healthcare Internet Conference (HCIC) for Greystone.Net. image of HCIC23 logo

At the 27th Annual Healthcare Internet Conference (HCIC), attendees realized they couldn’t just be marketers anymore.

They’ve got to understand tech (hi, AI); law (you’ve probably heard about how The American Hospital Association has sued the U.S. Health and Human Services Office for Civil Rights) and HR (labor shortages).

Oh, yeah — and they’ve got to do more with less!

Luckily, HCIC is a chance for healthcare communicators to discover new ideas and figure out how to partner together to solve some of the biggest challenges our industry is facing.

As Paul Matsen, chief marketing and communications officer at Cleveland Clinic, told attendees during his mainstage panel, “Stay optimistic. Stay engaged. There's lots of great work to be done as a hospital marketer.”

Let’s dive into some hot topics at the conference:

AI is an “Evolving Situation”

That’s how Ahava Leibtag, president of Aha Media, described what our industry is facing when it comes to AI. During a panel about the topic, Patty Riskind, CEO of Orbita, encouraged attendees to ask themselves two questions before embracing AI technology:

1. What are you trying to solve for?

2. How are you going to measure it?

During their AI presentation, Daniel Fell, senior strategist at Optum, and James Gardner, director of healthcare strategy OHO Interactive, shared several AI tools that marketers should check out:

  • Grammarly
  • Zoom (the AI Companion)
  • Dropbox (the Dropbox Dash solution)
  • Canva (Magic Studio)
  • Adobe (Firefly)

Sujal Raju, CEO & founder of Enqbator, reminded attendees during his presentation that AI is all about experimenting.

“The more and more you use these tools, the better you'll get at crafting prompts that will get you the results you want," Raju says.

Storytelling Still Matters

“5 things you need to know about diabetes.”

“That’s a boring headline!” said Laura Kuechenmeister, assistant director of content marketing at Emory Healthcare, during her content strategy presentation. “Everybody does that. Your hospital has amazing stories to tell about physicians and patients. Tell the stories that make you stand out.”

Stuart Dill, SVP of engagement at Vanderbilt University Medical Center, mentioned the importance of stories during his mainstage panel, as well.

“Marketing is nothing more than connecting,” Dill says. “And telling stories that matter.

Build trust with your audience by asking patients what kind of content they want in the first place.”

But back to headlines, real quick.

Jon Youshaei, advisor, investor and speaker, told attendees the three most popular headline categories, based on his days of working at YouTube and Instagram.

  • Headlines about the "best" or "worst"
  • Headlines that reveal the unknown
  • Headlines that instill fear or intrigue

“Here’s the biggest question to ask yourself when writing copy: ‘Is it clear, confident and concise?’” Youshaei says. “And a healthcare marketing literacy tip — as a society, we’ve peaked at ‘Goosebumps.’ Make sure you’re writing at a grade level that people can understand.”

Start Watching Law & Order Reruns

Well, maybe that’s not the best show to get you prepared for the onslaught of HIPAA, patient privacy and new regulations your hospital could face, but it’s a good idea to pair up with your legal counsel to make sure everything you’re doing is on the up-and-up.


"The faster you get through patient privacy issues, the faster you'll get back to doing the fun stuff of marketing," says Jenny Bristow, CEO of Hedy & Hopp, during her Master Class presentation about HIPAA, FTC and state laws.

Ready to put patient privacy first? Here are a few things to watch out for:

1. Call-tracking software

2. Remarketing and look-alike audiences

3. Email marketing and CRM tools

4. Form variables into URL parameters

5. Purchased lists uploaded as look-alikes

The biggest shift that happens when you put patient privacy first?

“You'll start to realize that everything that happens on your hospital's website matters,” Bristow says. “You'll feel inspired to protect patients and their data.”

And Speaking of Patients…Put the Patient Experience First

In a room of 800+ attendees, about half the room raised their hands when Cris Ross, CIO of Mayo Clinic asked: "Did you or someone you know have a bad experience at a hospital?"

Along with his co-presenter, Edward Marx, CEO of Marx Advisory, the duo shared five things you can do to improve the patient experience:

1. Empower patients and resiliency

2. Run healthcare as services; not processes

3. Sustain an empathetic organization

4. Create a patient-centric culture

5. Digitize your organization to support transformation

“Keep in mind: When a patient is done with the procedure; they aren't done with the illness,” Marx says. “How does your content engage with patients throughout their journey? Focus on kindness, empathy and joy.”
  • patient centric
  • storytelling
  • privacy
  • AI (artificial intelligence)
  • healthcare internet conference
  • HCIC23