As VP of Marketing at Emory Healthcare, Amy Comeau has a unique vantage point into the opportunities and challenges of leading brand and revenue growth strategies for a nationally ranked academic health system.
In this excerpt from our “3 Key Insights” series, you’ll learn how Amy Comeau is prioritizing her marketing plan, leveraging CRM and other tools and getting buy-in from key stakeholders to influence all stages of the patient journey.
Key insight #1: You need the right tools to compete in a crowded market.
Atlanta is a competitive healthcare market and we all seem to go after the same mix of patients. You absolutely need to have CRM and data-driven tools; otherwise, you’re going to keep chasing after the same patients or trying to one-up each other in the market and spending a lot of money, which none of us can afford to keep doing.
We’ve got to focus on the tools that are actually working to drive toward the business goals that our organizations need us to achieve. We can’t get distracted by something that’s bright and shiny that one of our competitors is doing. That might actually be fine because they’re going after a different market.
Key insight #2: Find your force multipliers.
We joke that there’s an insatiable demand for marketing within our organization. We will never be able to meet the needs of those within the system, so I learned early on that we had to prioritize our work.
To align our strategy with business goals, I developed an marketing executive advisory committee that includes a physician leader and an administrative leader from each major service line, the CEOs from all our hospitals, our chief operating officer and others. This helps guide our focus to drive profitable volumes into the system while also building and protecting the Emory Healthcare brand.
One of our core purposes as a marketing team is to support and align our work with the annual operating plan goals for the system. We also get involved in the five-year strategic planning process. The committee ensures alignment in those areas, and we also have subset meetings with service lines identified as drivers within the business and we’ll work with them to define volume and business goals.
Through these efforts, we achieve clarity on growth, expansion, budget and other strategic initiatives. Then we look and see how much do we believe marketing can actually move the needle. We also develop scorecards that measure the business goals we’re trying to support. This informs areas like the leads that we need to generate and convert into surgeries and other procedures, along with the tools that will most cost-effectively drive those leads.
By working collaboratively with the business units and administrators on those goals and tying our work back to the annual operating plan, we’re much more than just a marketing shop that’s producing brochures.
Key insight #3: COVID-19 forced durable change on healthcare organizations.
Prior to the pandemic, we were in year three of our CRM implementation—and COVID-19 helped accelerate that process. When we started out, it was going to be very marketing-specific with propensity modeling campaigns that drive direct mail and targeted digital campaigns. Our long-term goal was to use marketing automation and CRM for ongoing patient communications like sending appointment reminders via email. However, up until COVID-19, we had not regularly mass communicated with patients because we didn’t have the tool to do it.
Suddenly, we had a desperate need to tell our patients that we were suspending surgeries, changing our visitor policy and other safety initiatives. We had to accelerate that long-term strategy and we basically condensed a three-year plan into 18 months. We call it a durable change.
Now we’re sending emails to patients regularly and we’re able to see what content interests our community. For example, we recently conducted an analysis of COVID vaccine FAQs that were getting the most clicks to determine the key areas of hesitancy that we need to address.
We can make assumptions, but now we have the data that can validate our assumptions or tell us we’re wrong and point us in a new direction.
Get more expert perspective from Amy Comeau in this segment of 3 Key Insights.
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