“Internet Marketing” is a term that usually draws a perched brow from healthcare marketers. Often times we get a confused look and an, “Internet what?”

Once the explanation is made and some semblance of an understanding is established there is a moment of realization that almost invariably sets in, precipitating the next question: “So how am I doing with that?”

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Generally, the answer is “Ok,” but any marketing executive or manager who doesn’t know how well they’re doing in a certain channel is likely not doing as well as they could be.

These types of conversations happen daily in my world. Healthcare marketers and executives of all types want to know how powerful the internet can be to the core missions of their organizations and businesses. Yet, almost every commercialized healthcare organization operates an internet marketing campaign. It’s just that the power of the internet is only semi-realized because it is viewed as a “me-too” item that doesn’t translate into any actionable insight.

The best way to explain how I see this is through an experience I had recently that brought together a lot of what I’ve learned over the last decade of being connected to our healthcare system.

Early last month I was fortunate enough to have a chance to hear the CEO of a large integrated health system speak in an intimate setting and was fascinated by his perspective on developing an organizational culture that is completely intangible yet inextricably correlated to having positive, tangible performance metrics.  The philosophy is that by being connected to the front-line staff and engaging on a daily basis, an executive is able to not only cultivate a tone for the organization that fosters high performance, but gives the executive a lens for decision-making that cannot be found elsewhere.

This had me thinking a lot because I have found the same to be true in my own experience. When I was 25, I took a leap of faith from the world of Accounting and into Field Sales for Beckman Coulter in NYC. What an experience. I mean, I have always bitten off more than I could chew, but that was a big bite of the Apple (pun completely intended). Up to that point, I had actually been in the Accounting Department of the same company, sheltered from the hospital labs that relied on our instruments. So, it was amazing to actually see what our instruments did, how they changed the course of diagnosis and treatment, and how deeply imperative they were to the continuum of patient care.

From sitting on the bench with technologists to speaking with Lab Directors and Informatics Managers or getting approval from hospital administration (always an exercise in patience!), I got a lens to a world beyond what I could have ever imagined for that age. It changed the way that I see everything I do, and what everyone in healthcare does, by realizing how important listening to the people who directly interact with your products and services really is. The people who are on the front-line can tell you the lion share of what is what and if they are part of a healthy and communicative organization, their voice will make it all the way to the top of the organization.  Through these key individuals, you can get a view to the entire spectrum of decision makers in an organization.

We can create direct connections to the people that are actually looking for help and information at the exact moment they are looking.

This experience, and several others, are why I think what internet marketing does can be so powerful in healthcare. The people who really matter, who are on the front line, whether they are providers, patients, nurses, or technicians, are searching online more than ever before. We can create direct connections to the people that are actually looking for help and information at the exact moment they are looking.

Sometimes they know what they want, sometimes they need help figuring out what they need, but they are always the ones looking, and if you can get them to interact with you, you can glean insight that is hard to capture anywhere else. No focus group can tell you how someone is truly behaving when no one is observing them behind one-way glass. But the internet tells you that and a whole heap more. We’ve seen clients use data we present to help with corporate messaging, product launches, and even to give strategic guidance to product names.

More importantly, by listening to what is driving response and action, we can gain a better understanding of the human condition, how people really think and behave, and the best way to show them the value that each product in healthcare delivers—the ability to help them do their job of helping patients, like you, me, and our loved ones.

The internet is one of the best places to listen.

If you’re struggling, or just curious, to find ways to harness the power of the internet for your business, you may find some guidance from downloading our white paper here.