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Healthcare Marketing: How to Sell to Hospital Administrators

As a business that sells to the healthcare sector, it can be hard to reach the people you really need to reach in order to show them the benefits of your product or services.

By understanding how hospital administrators buy new products, you can create content helping them to make their buying decision. Also by understanding the problems and challenges they face, you can create inbound marketing that is helpful.

But how do we know how hospital administrators research products? How can we use inbound marketing to improve your healthcare marketing?

Recently, Google conducted a survey of 700 hospital administrators which included interviews with 69 key decision makers. This gives us some great insight in how to reach your target market. So let’s take a look at how we can improve your marketing to reach and help these potential customers.

The part search plays in their buying decision

You first of all have to understand that doctors and administrators are no different to you and I, they do most of their research online.

In fact more than 90% of hospital administrators rely on search engines to identify vendors and product options to do their research.

They spend large sums of money so research is very important to them.

Over 50% of their buying decision is already made before they even contact you. According to Google the reason they do it this way is because they want to limit the number of vendors they speak to, so they only deal with 3 instead of 50.

By conducting their research they are able to ask the right kind of questions to the vendors which helps to speed up the process (hospital administrators are very busy people). As they look for a deeper education, 75% of them said they looked for clinical data and 82% said they looked at product reviews and comparisons.

50% said they used a smartphone while making their buying decision and one in three of them used their smartphone to conduct research. They looked at product reviews, customer testimonials and requested product information.

What was also surprising in the data was that 100% of them used video in their research. Some of the kinds of videos watched were:

  • Product procedures
  • Product comparisons
  • Demo videos

The benefits of them watching these videos were that they could see how equipment looked in a room and how people interacted with it. Over 63% of the administrators shared their experiences with others.

How you can benefit from their search behaviour

As your target market or buyer persona is conducting their research online to find answers to their sales questions, you need to be the one providing the answers. By using inbound marketing you can create content that helps your buyer persona to make their decisions.

As they are doing their research online, to be better informed you need to understand what it is they are searching for. Luckily for you, you already know the things they are searching for as you hear it every day when your sales team make contact. They have questions and you need to answer them. They have pain points, you need to address them.

You need to help them at every buying stage.

The kind of content you need to create is:

  •          Educational blog content
  •          Training videos
  •          Comparison charts
  •          Product demos
  •          Cheat sheets
  •          Analyst reports
  •          Eguides & ebooks
  •          Whitepapers
  •          Live interactions
  •          Vendor comparisons
  •          Case studies
  •          Product literature

The above list matches the needs of your buyer persona and by using email marketing and face-to-face interactions you can move them through your sales process and help them to make their buying decisions.

As over 50% of the administrators that were surveyed said that they used smartphones to conduct their research, you also need to make sure your website is mobile responsive so it works seamlessly no matter what device it is viewed on.


As hospital administrators are conducting research online and are looking for answers to their questions you need to create content that helps them at every stage of their buying process. You need to create the content they seek and nurture them at every step.

They don’t want to be sold to, they want to research for themselves as 50% already have made most of their decision before they even contact you. And if you are the one that has been the most helpful at every step, guess who they will contact first?

Now it’s your turn

What are the biggest challenges you face in your healthcare marketing? Do you find it hard to reach the key decision makers? Let me know in the comments below.



Digital technology: change the culture not just the products

nvestment in digital technology is undoubtedly key to the future of local public services – from providing public information to protecting vulnerable people. But it is about more than investment in products and services.

Within the current financial climate, digital technology is often held up as a means of providing cost effective solutions to a wealth of problems dealt with by local public services. Through digital technologies councils hope to integrate multidisciplinary teams, reduce customer contact, encourage self service and internally enable mobile and flexible working.

We also look to digital products and services to improve the transparency and accountability of our decisions and to enable effective communication with and between citizens. We are also pushing our staff, officers and elected representatives to integrate digital into their own lives so we can connect on a more personal level.

I am a huge advocate of the transformative potential of digital. But this means nothing without a shift in how we think, how we see ourselves as organisations and employers and how we provide local services.

Here in Devon, we recognise that digital is an important opportunity, necessary to secure future savings – and we also recognise the need to do things differently and do different things. But this is not easy when we are wrapped in a complex web of legislation and statutory responsibilities; traditional risk-adverse approaches creep back in when uncertainty reigns supreme.

Embracing digital technology is much wider than simply products and services; it is about creating a climate where these products and services can thrive: a culture where local public services are open by default and digital by design.

Here in Devon digital products and services are key to the success of our estates strategy, through which we hope to reduce running costs by 29% and occupied floor area by 35% between 2012 and 2017. Targeted investment in digital systems is also key to the service redesigns that will follow our upcoming reviews of council services – which we hope will enable our citizens not self-help as well as self-serve.

This cannot be simply about the technology and its delivery. We need to make sure we are investing in the right products, but also developing the right culture.

Phone Interview: Preparing for a Phone Interview

Consider these tips as you prepare for a phone interview.

A phone interview is a key step in the hiring process and your success in the phone screen is critical to move your candidacy forward for a position.  Remember, it is an interview – take it seriously.  If you don’t do well on the phone interview, you are out of contention for the position.

Telephone interview

  • Be prepared.  Treat the phone interview no differently than a traditional in-person interview.  Do your homework on the company and the interviewer.
    • Have your resume in front of you – the one the interview has in their hands.
    • Have the job description in front of you.
    • Have a list of questions ready to ask.
    • Have a list of items you want to be sure are covered in the call.  Review the list before the call ends.
    • Have paper and a pen ready for taking notes and a solid surface for writing.
    • Go to a quiet place and remove all distractions.  Shut off the TV and the music.  Shut off your cell phone.  Minimize open programs on your computer, but have it ready to go in case the interview wants you to go to something online.  Go to an area where there is no background noise – no door bells ringing, no dogs barking, no kids playing.  Close the door to the room you are in.
    • Conduct the call from home.  You have more control over the environment at home than in a public place.
    • Use a landline.  Unless you have highly reliable cell service and quality cell phone, conduct the phone interview from your landline.  If you do use a cell phone, make sure the battery is fully charged.  Have the charger ready in case you need it.  Turn off call waiting.
    • Be ready to accept the call 5 minutes before the scheduled start time.   Do not let the call go to voicemail.
    • Answer the phone professionally when it rings, “Hello, this is Jane Smith.”
    • Posture yourself as you would during an in-person interview.
    • During the conversation, do not smoke, eat, drink or chew gum.
    • Speak slowly and clearly and directly into the phone.
      • Don’t doodle or get otherwise distracted.
      • Don’t talk about money.  A phone interview is a pre-screening tool and it is too early in the process to discuss money.
      • Have your calendar in front of you in case the interviewer wants to schedule the next step.
      • Ask what the next step is in the interview process and clarify that you are interested in moving forward in the process.
      • Be prepared with a strong finish to the call summarizing why you are the best candidate for the position.
      • Thank the interviewer for their time speaking with you.
      • Be sure you have the interviewer’s email address and send a thank you note a few hours after the call.  If you don’t have their email address, ask for it during the call

Practice, practice, practice!  Phone interviews are very common and most employers use them.  If you can, conduct a mock phone interview with a family member or friend.  Work out the kinks and get feedback on how you may be perceived by the interviewer.

The Undercover Interviewer: “Do You Have Any Questions for Me?”

“Do you have any questions for me?” could be the biggest trap of the professional job interview. That is, when the interviewer turns the tables and offers to answer whatever questions may be on your mind. Don’t be fooled. This is not the moment to relax or think that the interviewer is just being polite. In fact it is often the most important part of the interview. This is your chance to show how much homework you’ve done – or not – about the company. How much insight you have – or don’t – about the position you’re discussing. And whether or not you are accurately reading the dynamics of the interview.

Do not wait to be surprised when this question comes at you with five or seven minutes left in the interview. Get ready beforehand and use it as the opportunity to differentiate yourself from your competition.

The worst possible answer to this question is, “No, thanks, I think I have everything I need.” If you do that the interviewer will write you off, then and there. as someone who isn’t hungry, isn’t curious about the organization or doesn’t care about the interviewer him or herself. Rather, prepare a series of questions that link to your narrative as discussed in my previous “Undercover Interviewer” post.

Some examples of good areas to probe and effective questions to ask when given the chance:

  • About the culture – “How would you describe the kinds of people that thrive in the company and those that don’t fit in? What does that say about the culture?” Or even more specific, “As I reflect on my two previous organizations, one culture was all about collaboration, teamwork, never using the word ‘I’ and the other was much more a star system, where it was all about standing out as an individual performer. How does this organization operate on that dimension?”
  • About the position – “What would success look like in the position? If I were to be offered the job and a year from now we were reviewing how it’s going, what would I have accomplished for you to say, ‘What an amazing year you’ve had?’
  • About the interviewer – “Tell me a little bit about your story. How did you find your way into the company? What have you enjoyed most and what’s been most frustrating?” It goes without saying (but it is worth repeating), people love to be asked about themselves. An even better way to ask this question is to have Googled the person you’re meeting and framing a question about them with specifics about what they’ve done, where they went to school, what they may be known for.
  • About the company – “In the most recent earnings call, the CFO said that the company is now projecting flat revenue for the year. Given that the market is growing double digits, shouldn’t I be concerned about the strategy not working?” Or “Would it be an accurate interpretation to say that your two most recent acquisitions were made to attract talent, or ‘acquihires?” If that is the case, why do you think it’s been so difficult to attract the talent you need?” When asking about the company and strategy, assuming you’ve done your homework it’s fine to be challenging – as long as you’re not being insulting or personal about it.

As you can see, there are any number of questions to ask when you’re given the opportunity in the last part of an interview. Your goal for the interview is for the interviewer to describe you, once you’ve left as being “very sharp and asking great questions.” Asking great questions in an interview is among the most sure-fire ways to get the job.

High-tech glasses help surgeons see cancer cells

Researchers at Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis, MO, have developed a way of visualizing cancer cells using high-tech glasses designed to make it easier for surgeons to distinguish between cancerous and healthy tissue.


Cancer cells are notoriously difficult to see, even when highly magnified, and the hope is the special glasses will help surgeons remove all of the tumor tissue and avoid leaving behind any stray cancer cells.


Viewed through the glasses, cancer cells appear to glow blue under a special light, thanks to a fluorescent marker injected in the tumor that attaches only to cancerous and not to healthy cells. Also, the lighter the shade of blue, the more concentrated the cancer cells are.


Dr. Julie Margenthaler, a breast surgeon and associate professor of surgery at Washington University, recently carried out the first operation to use the wearable technology, which has not yet been officially named.


She says the technology is still in its early stages and needs to undergo more development and tests, but they are encouraged by the benefits it may offer to patients. She adds:


“Imagine what it would mean if these glasses eliminated the need for follow-up surgery and the associated pain, inconvenience and anxiety.”


Current tumor surgery often requires further operations


At present, when operating to remove a tumor, surgeons are expected to remove the cancerous tissue and also some neighboring tissue that may or may not include cancer cells.

High Tech Glasses

Samples of the tissue are then sent to the lab to be examined under a microscope, and if cancer cells are found, the patient often has to have a second operation to remove more tissue, which is then also sent to the lab.

According to Dr. Margenthaler, about 20-25% of breast cancer patients who undergo lumpectomy need to come back for a second operation.

In 2012, British researchers writing in theBMJ describe how one fifth of women withbreast cancer who choose breast conserving surgery instead of mastectomyeventually need another operationbecause the first operation fails to remove all of the tumor.

If the new wearable technology proves successful, it would eliminate the need for further procedures and reduce stress for patients, as well as save time and money.

‘Goal to make sure no cancer is left behind’

Samuel Achilefu, professor of radiology and biomedical engineering at Washington University led the team that developed the device. In a paper that was published in a November 2013 issue of the Journal of Biomedical Optics, they described how the new technology helped detect tumors as small as 1 mm in diameter.

“This technology has great potential for patients and health care professionals,” says Prof. Achilefu. “Our goal is to make sure no cancer is left behind.”

Another surgeon, Ryan Fields, an assistant professor of surgery at Washington University, is planning to wear the glasses when he removes a melanoma from a patient later this month.

Prof. Achilefu is currently seeking FDA approval for a molecular agent to use with the glasses that specifically targets and stays longer in cancer cells than the one he and his colleagues used in pilot studies on mice, which is already approved by the FDA.

Credit card-sized device could analyze biopsy, help diagnose pancreatic cancer in minutes

Pancreatic cancer

Pancreatic cancer is a particularly devastating disease. At least 94 percent of patients will die within five years, and in 2013 it was ranked as one of the top 10 deadliest cancers.

Routine screenings for breast, colon and lung cancers have improved treatment and outcomes for patients with these diseases, largely because the cancer can be detected early. But because little is known about how pancreatic cancer behaves, patients often receive a diagnosis when it’s already too late.

University of Washington scientists and engineers are developing a low-cost device that could help pathologists diagnose pancreatic cancer earlier and faster. The prototype can perform the basic steps for processing a biopsy, relying on fluid transport instead of human hands to process the tissue. The team presented its initial results this month (February 2014) at the SPIE Photonics West conference and recently filed a patent for this first-generation device and future technology advancements.

“This new process is expected to help the pathologist make a more rapid diagnosis and be able to determine more accurately how invasive the cancer has become, leading to improved prognosis,” said Eric Seibel, a UW research professor of mechanical engineering and director of the department’s Human Photonics Laboratory.

The new instrumentation would essentially automate and streamline the manual, time-consuming process a pathology lab goes through to diagnose cancer. Currently, a pathologist takes a biopsy tissue sample, then sends it to the lab where it’s cut into thin slices, stained and put on slides, then analyzed optically in 2-D for abnormalities.

The UW’s technology would process and analyze whole tissue biopsies for 3-D imaging, which offers a more complete picture of the cellular makeup of a tumor, said Ronnie Das, a UW postdoctoral researcher in bioengineering who is the lead author on a related paper.

“As soon as you cut a piece of tissue, you lose information about it. If you can keep the original tissue biopsy intact, you can see the whole story of abnormal cell growth. You can also see connections, cell morphology and structure as it looks in the body,” Das said.

The research team is building a thick, credit card-sized, flexible device out of silicon that allows a piece of tissue to pass through tiny channels and undergo a series of steps that replicate what happens on a much larger scale in a pathology lab. The device harnesses the properties of microfluidics, which allows tissue to move and stop with ease through small channels without needing to apply a lot of external force. It also keeps clinicians from having to handle the tissue; instead, a tissue biopsy taken with a syringe needle could be deposited directly into the device to begin processing.

Researchers say this is the first time material larger than a single-celled organism has successfully moved in a microfluidic device. This could have implications across the sciences in automating analyses that usually are done by humans.

Das and Chris Burfeind, a UW undergraduate student in mechanical engineering, designed the device to be simple to manufacture and use. They first built a mold using a petri dish and Teflon tubes, then poured a viscous, silicon material into the mold. The result is a small, transparent instrument with seamless channels that are both curved and straight.

The researchers have used the instrument to process a tissue biopsy one step at a time, following the same steps as a pathology lab would. Next, they hope to combine all of the steps into a more robust device — including 3-D imaging — then build and optimize it for use in a lab. Future iterations of the device could include layers of channels that would allow more analyses on a piece of tissue without adding more bulk to the device.

The UW researchers say the technology could be used overseas as an over-the-counter kit that would process biopsies, then send that information to pathologists who could look for signs of cancer from remote locations. Additionally, it could potentially reduce the time it takes to diagnose cancer to a matter of minutes, Das said.

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