As a leading marketing voice within the 17-hospital system, Michael McCauley is instrumental in shaping the organization’s brand and growth strategies. Find out how he helps guide his community and marketing team to better health.
In this conversation for our healthcare marketing podcast, Hackensack Meridian Health VP of Corporate Communications Michael McCauley talks about healthcare marketing trends, the system’s COVID vaccine communication plans and how he cultivates a fun work environment rooted in trust among his team.
The response to the vaccine rollout has been surprising
When the vaccine was starting to roll out, I thought demand was going to be out the door, that people would be lining up for hours and miles to get it. As of today (February 18), we’ve vaccinated about 50% of our team members. I thought that would have been higher. Our goal is to get [the numbers] higher but there are some individuals who are hesitant because they’re not sure if it was developed too quickly. While the numbers are not as high as I thought they would be, I’m confident that with further education we’re going to get people on board to get the vaccine.
There’s no magic formula for effective vaccine communications
Consistency and redundancy are key, we just keep pushing the message with team members and our community as well. We’re also working with the diversity and inclusion team to reach diverse populations and let them know it is safe and something they should consider getting. Again, the goal is to keep reiterating your message and, eventually, you’ll start to see the impact.
As healthcare marketers, we’re all in this together
The main thing I took from the SHSMD (Society for Healthcare Strategy and Market Development) panel discussion on healthcare marketing trends was the fact that we’re all facing the same things, just a bit differently in all of our regions. We can learn from each other as we’re all experiencing COVID-19-related fluctuations and decreases in volume. It’s important to know that as healthcare marketers that it’s a small world and we’re here for each other.
It makes a big difference when senior leadership understands the value of marketing
It’s nice to have a senior executive team that is aware of the impact that marketing communications have on the organization. Our CEO Bob Garret knows the power of marketing communications and that when you invest in marketing, it’s going to benefit the organization by driving additional volume and increasing brand awareness. He’s always been very supportive. In fact, we increased our marketing budget by about 4% between 2020 and 2021 for new initiatives to help drive volume and increase our brand awareness in the community.
Subject matter experts are instrumental in educating the community
What worked really well for us is positioning different experts to talk about COVID-19 or the vaccine who can relate to consumers or team members. The research we had shows consumers are going to trust the advice they get from their physician. That drove our decision to do a lot of public service announcements. For example, we’re recording segments with our physicians and nurses and turning those into educational radio and TV commercials. We’ll continue moving that strategy forward to drive education and awareness.
He’s focusing on the 4Rs in 2021
When I look ahead to this year, I’m focusing on:
- Recovery—We’re doing a lot to help drive volume to our system.
- Reassure—We’re letting our community know that it is safe to come back in for care and that the vaccine is safe.
- Reimagine—We have to think about things differently, the way we did things before may not be able to continue. This could include the way we work and the policies and protocols we have in place across the network.
- Rest and relaxation—We have to take care of ourselves, mentally and physically. We have to take time off. That’s a lesson learned throughout COVID: During the first surge, we all worked a crazy amount of hours to support our front-line care team, roll up our sleeves and help out. We learned in the second surge that everyone was tired, so we have to think about how to take breaks and start promoting mental health and wellness resources to our team members.
Leaders should create an environment where work is fun
My message to the team is, “Work should always be fun.” Work becomes fun when you create an environment that supports that idea, when you have a trusting relationship with your team, when you’re open, caring and transparent with them. Once you have those ingredients: I firmly believe then comes the fun, because everyone trusts each other, they know what’s going on and they know you care for them.
Listen to the full interview!
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