Episode 36: Miranda Madar on Consumerism in Healthcare Marketing

Hey folks, this is Rudy Fernandez from Creative Outhouse. In this episode we’re going to talk about consumerism in healthcare marketing. Here’s how fast things have changed. Richard Schwartz, who’s a brilliant healthcare strategist, told me that he often types in the beginning of statements into Google to see what people are searching for. Whenever he would type in the phrase “doctors are”, he would get words like overpaid, overrated, quacks, lots of negative. Do that now, and the first option that appears is “heroes”. That’s one thing about healthcare. You don’t appreciate it until you really, really need it. So a salute to those folks out there risking their lives for us. Sorry it took this for us to really appreciate you.

We recorded this episode with Miranda Madar a few weeks ago. In the top part, we talked about consumerism in healthcare marketing and how both healthcare and marketing need to improve the patient experience and go beyond just telling people how great they are. We also talked about women in leadership roles and Miranda has some really good things to say. It’s a great conversation about healthcare marketing. Check it out. Welcome to Marketing Upheaval.


Miranda Madar on Marketing Upheaval

Chief Marketing Officer at Resurgens Orthopedics

Thanks for listening to Marketing Upheaval. My guest is Miranda Madar, the Chief Marketing Officer at Resurgens Orthopedics, the largest orthopedic practice in the southeast. Miranda has an impressive consumer marketing background. She has held both agency and client side roles, and has worked on several award winning campaigns across multiple categories. She was previously the global communications manager at the Coca Cola company, and was recently honored as a Hall of Fame woman to watch in medical marketing and media. We’re going to talk about consumerism in healthcare, and the changing landscape of women in leadership. Very excited to talk to you today. Miranda, thanks for joining us.

Thank you. Thanks so much for having me. I’m excited to be here.


Consumerism in Healthcare Marketing: Is Healthcare a Consumer Product?

I want to start with healthcare marketing and consumerization. The trend in healthcare has been towards consumerism to treat it more like a consumer product. And it’s been going on for a few years with ratings online consumers being more active in the decision. Have you respond to this?

That’s a great question. Some of the main challenges that I see is, you know, we often say we’re not selling widgets. So we can’t have flash sales or bogos, or even create impulse buying moments. We have to hope that people injured themselves or that their pain becomes unbearable enough for them to seek out treatment. That’s really pretty morbid.

So there’s also that unspoken, but very relatable barrier of confusion around insurance, with so many health plans and referral requirements, rising premiums, all of that, that they have to deal with, and sort through. People are afraid to go to the doctor, particularly if it’s something that could be elective. Something that they don’t really need but they probably should have, or if it can take them out of work for a long period of time. You know, it’s just maybe not worth the effort or they just don’t want to go through the trouble of exploring their options. And buying a product or buying a Coke for example, just doesn’t seem that hard. Plus, you get that instant satisfaction whereas healthcare is a really long term investment.

So, how do you deal with that? Because, it isn’t buying pizza or Coke. When you buy it, you know what kind of pizza you like. But people try to use the same sort of criteria when they pick a physician. Like, well, I like Doctor So and so. Whereas that doesn’t mean Dr. So and so is a good doctor. So how do you address that in consumer healthcare marketing?

Marketing a Service: Brand Reputation

When I think in terms of categories, it’s more like marketing a service rather than a product. There’s a lot of subjective qualities that come into play in healthcare marketing, some that you mentioned, and it’s more of a long term approach. We actively create a reputation for a brand that you want to have in your life. Whenever that time comes. It’s less about the individual doctors, because doctor so and so can be nice or not so nice or whatever. And we really have 100 experts who are a whiz and their specialty. So how do you really differentiate each one? That’s a lot of work and effort. It’s really about more of what they offer as a whole.

Patient Experience is Customer Experience

A lot of the doctors might all appear to be similar. We’d rather instead take the the angle of highlighting our partnerships with other groups, we wouldn’t disparage another organization. We would really showcase how we all work together. And Resurgens really is everywhere that you need them to be, including hospital systems. We’re really accessible. Being as large as we are certainly has its advantages. And we do focus on those kind of ownable benefits. A lot of our past patients reinforce this notion with all the positive reviews that they leave for us. They rave about our doctors and the care that they get. But also they rave about the staff or front desk or nurses. It’s a full service patient experience. So it’s the entire experience, and we highlight that a lot more as we think about consumerism in healthcare marketing.


Do you have to go and talk to physicians and nurses about customer service? Yes, your job is to heal this patient¬† in whatever way but here are some steps to make the patient feel like they’re listened to. What are some of the things you do?


Patient Reviews and Consumer Marketing Research

We work very closely with our operations team so that they can provide guidance based on patient reviews that we may receive. So it’s not just an arbitrary thing like this is how we feel you should be doing it. We show them what people are really saying about them. How are their experiences? What was it like in their office? And we do take that to them so that they can be aware of how they’re being perceived. And whether it’s the site manager or their staff, like the medical assistants, they all kind of hear this and see this and both the good and the bad. They can get positive affirmation when the patients are happy with the care as well as some negative feedback that they may have received. And a lot of them take it to heart and try to make immediate changes right away.

They consider, what are some ways that they can improve? Are there things that they should change with their process and their protocols or is it just a matter of slowing down a little stopping to look at them in the eye Have a conversation with them, ask how they’re feeling. It’s really pausing and spending time with the patient. And even if it’s just a few moments in time, it really has a sincere impact when a patient feels that they’re being heard and listened to and their symptoms are being recognized. I think that goes a long way as well in consumer healthcare marketing. And those are just small changes that the physicians can do.

Healthcare Brand Positioning

You had mentioned that you can’t position yourself against another provider or you can’t say some bad thing about them. This is not the cola wars here. So what are some ways that healthcare organizations can position themselves in a consumer minded market to set itself apart?

I think that a lot of it comes back to that service oriented nature. How are they actually treating their patients when they walk in the door. A lot of it is just greeting them with a smile and making sure that their experience is not complicated. The billing process and the terms that they’re going to hear a lot of. It can just freak people out. So really, if they have a good experience, followed by a good outcome, a lot of that sets the experience apart. Whether it’s 24/7 appointments, scheduling, online access, being able to communicate with the physicians through our portal, any sort of technology integrations.

We spend a great deal of time optimizing our website, optimizing our internal capabilities, so that they are able to get the tools and access the tools that they need, when they need it. And I think a lot of that customization and personalization is starting to be what consumers and patients expect now.

 Rudy Fernandez interviews Miranda Madar

Customer Convenience

Yes, I think communications has to be part of new customer experience. Whereas in the past, healthcare was set up for the convenience of the provider. Even that little room, it’s not very comfortable. It’s set up for the provider. Not really the patient so much. And I’m starting to see more and more healthcare organizations say, you know, because people have a choice and because they have more access to more information, we need to rethink consumerism in healthcare. Does it improve the customer experience?

Yeah, I think so. I mean, you know, you really have to consider, when you’re looking across at all your options, it’s really going to come down to subjective matters that really make that final decision when you’re thinking about the customer journey, what’s going to be that little differentiating factor.

So I wanted to ask you about that because you were part of a team that created the Coca Cola small world machines campaign. And actually, I’m going to brag on you. You won 11 Cannes Lions, including three golds for that campaign. So that’s pretty impressive.

So it’s an amazing campaign about Coke being a way for people to to reach out to each other. And it had people from India and Pakistan, it was actually it was great. It was beautiful campaign. And so we see a lot of that.

Purpose-Led Healthcare Brands

And in terms of purpose led brands, Healthcare has never done that. I guess they’ve never felt like they needed to because well, we heal sick people. Right? My contention is they probably ought to. They ought to be more involved in their communities and they ought to be more about, “We don’t just give you a hip replacement. We’re also mission based.” Do you see health care brands, maybe even resurgence doing anything like that, where it’s not just we’ll fix your hip. But here’s our purpose for being here. Right.

I think first, thank you very much on that compliment. I mean, that was an incredibly complex but impactful campaign and it’s one that stays with me over all these years. It was amongst my favorite and I worked with some of the best marketing minds to put that all together. In terms of how healthcare could be doing more things like that. I totally agree. I think they’re just now beginning to think that way. And I think in general “medical advertising” really, in terms of pharmaceutical ads, they’ve tried to do that in the past. And some larger hospitals really do this in local markets a lot more often.

But you’re right, there have been very few private practice institutions that are leading the charge here. In fact, the Cannes Lions only introduced the health care category just over five years ago. So in 2014, it came around, but the Cannes Lions awards have been around since 1954. So it’s taken quite a while for people to even think this way. And I think private practices are still trying to find their footing and establish appropriate budgets. Because let’s face it, real big consumer advertising isn’t exactly cheap. So medical practices are kind of finding this out now.

Healthcare Advertising

In the past five years, we’ve seen the work get better as more and more practices and hospitals, enlist consumer driven agencies or actual brand marketers to help them tell those right stories. In fact, when I first joined Resurgens in 2015, that was what I was actually recruited to do market the practice in a way that it hadn’t been done before. Historically, doctors were opposed to advertising their services, partially because it was banned by the American Medical Association until the late 1980s. So it was really always frowned upon.

But as healthcare rules change, and more people have more control, including what choices they have and how they want to select a doctor. They don’t need referrals anymore. What are those little nuances that are going to differentiate them? Physicians seem to be changing with the times as well. And advertising, it’s finally getting the respect that it deserves. They never they never paid attention before. So, you know, and I think it really would be really easy to draw the connection between patients stories and the doctors that helped them heal. I mean, that’s emotional storytelling at its core.


Orthopedics Customer Journey

That is a good point. Ortho is different than other types of services in that, for example, seldom is it life threatening. I’m guessing most of the procedures are things like knee replacement, hip replacement, repairing of something that’s injured or worn down, that sort of thing. It’s usually a considered decision. It’s not like you have a heart attack where you don’t have a whole lot of time to shop around. So given that it’s a sort of a category where people do shop around. What is that journey like? And how do you reach people in that journey when they’re trying to shop around for Ortho?

We have really two layers: awareness, media, mass media tactics that work to keep our brand top of mind whether it’s TV commercials, radio, messaging, outdoor billboards, things of that nature. It’s really intended to reach an audience often, and be a source of reminding them about when to choose us, why to choose us, whenever the time comes.

We also have a focus that’s more acquisition based. That would be our search campaigns that really drill down into what people are looking for. Do they have knee pain? Are they experiencing tingling in their fingers? Is there an issue that they’re searching for? And then we would provide them with information and research for them to hopefully make the right decision and come see us. So we drive them to our website. And even on our social media platforms, we’re constantly putting out information and just reinforcing treatment options and preventative options so that they can stay well.

But if an injury happens, how can they be treated for it? So we’re kind of serving up this information. And when the time comes, they are ready on our website. They’re getting served up our ads, they’re being remarketed. And when it’s right, they can just simply make an appointment whether online or calling our schedulers and we’re making that process super easy for them.


Orthopedics Marketing and Target Audiences

With healthcare, you’re right: You don’t need it until you need it. And so it does involve a lot of that, Okay, we we’ve narrowed down our target audience as much as we can, and we’re going to address it when they’re searching for someone in their journey. But we want to be on that shortlist when they start searching. In order to do that we have to send them messages when they don’t need us.

Exactly. And that’s a hard concept for doctors to actually get behind because it could be viewed as wasteful. But at the same time, how are you not going to be there at all times? It’s not like, like I said at the beginning, how are you expected to remember the message? Unless you see it at some other point in time in some other place in time? Yeah, it’s a bit challenging.

I was explaining this to someone not too long ago, where I was saying, you know, if you wanted to buy a luxury car and your friend Joe had a Lexus, and he told you about all the wonderful things you say, you know, maybe I’ll get a Lexus. Do you think it’s because Joe convinced you? But if Joe drove a Rudymobile with the same features you’d go I’m not buying that. Because everything else you know about Lexus plays into it as well.

Exactly. All things have to work together.


Women in Orthopedics Marketing

I wanted to switch gears and talk about well, I’ve worked in ortho before and I don’t think I’m overstepping to say it’s mostly guys. And also, not just guys but a lot of them are jocks. Jockey guys tend to be in orthopedic surgery. How has that been as a woman CMO here? Has there been an adjustment? You know they’re also surgeons. They are usually pretty confident people.

A tad bit.

Yeah. So how is that? How is that the adjustment?

It’s been an interesting one. But you know, even before coming here, I’ve often only been the only woman in the meeting. Or the youngest person in the meeting or the only minority in a meeting or the only non surgeon in a meeting, you know, all of these things. Anytime you stand alone, it could start to cause you to doubt yourself if you let it. Yes, it’s true orthopedists are indeed mostly male.

In fact, the latest statistics indicate that women only make up about 32% of the entire medical workforce. And even fewer move into specialties like orthopedic surgeon, and that’s only 7% of practicing orthopedists are women. So I can just imagine how those women feel and what they’ve had to overcome. But yet, in 2019, the American Academy of Orthopedic Surgeons, I don’t know if you know this, they appointed their first female president Kristy Weber. That was a significant milestone for that male dominated field, and at Resurgens, 15% of our positions are female. That’s more than any other group in the country.

I really keep those facts in mind when I’m standing in a room full of men only, which is often. Change is happening and I like to keep that perspective, while not everyone is ready for it or accepting of it. We have to actively seek out those people who are in favor of taking steps towards it because those become our allies.

Diversity in Female Leadership

Wow. That’s great to know. We had a previous episode of Marketing Upheaval with a woman named Katie Kern where she talks about being the “only” so many times in a meeting. And it was an episode about diversity, which I wanted to talk to you about that because you were in Woman to Watch Hall of Femme, in by Medical Marketing & Media. And I’ve seen your posts and you share a lot about the advances for women in leadership positions. How have you seen things change in terms of diverse populations? Are women in leadership roles?

I certainly think that there are definitely more platforms for empowered women to be seen and see other people. Whether it’s on blogs or YouTube videos or TED Talks. You know, when I was first starting out, that image was not easy to see. There wasn’t content available like there is today. I worked in New York on Madison Avenue and I was grateful to have a first hand view of some of the greatest female voices of our time from Anne Fudge at Y&R. She was the first black female CEO of a major ad agency. And Tiffany Warren. She’s the founder of AdColor, or even in Atlanta with Wendy Clark, she was at Coke. Now she’s the CEO of DDB.

These are pioneers in my mind that continue to inspire others and make space for women in this field. So I’m really excited to see that there’s broader representation of diverse groups of people in these places and in ads. I believe or I’m hopeful that it’s because there are more diverse groups of people moving in and up the ladder within the industry overall. As CMO, even I have direct influence over the cast we choose in our ads, and I’m very engaged throughout that selection process. I work closely with our agency partners to ensure representation is thoughtful and reflective of our patients. And I think that has a lot to do with it.


Fostering Allies and Inclusion in Marketing

I’ve always noticed that, and thankfully it is changing, where majority of people in marketing that I work with and I have worked with are female. But if you look at the larger companies, the leadership tends to be male skewed. Whereas like we talked about orthopedics, you can understand it’s mostly male, but in marketing, it never made sense to me. It needs to change.

I think so. And that kind of goes back to those allies. When we have allies that are brave enough to call out poor behavior before it becomes the norm. Yeah, that’s really hard. And it doesn’t really happen on the spot. But we need to seek out those allies afterwards and have conversations about it if we bring it to the forefront. So inclusion becomes the norm. You know, I think that will help make all of this move together. Sometimes the presence of a woman alone can be a reminder.

I think Goldman Sachs just did a study and they looked at publicly held companies, and the ones who had at least one female on the board did much better than the ones who did not. So they’re making it required. They’re requiring it, they invest in it, they have at least one if not more females on their board. And it harkens back to a recent episode with a man, Husani Oakley from Deutsche New York. We were talking about the benefits of diverse teams. So it’s not just this is a nice thing to do, right? If you don’t do this, you will not survive because you will be more successful. Have you worked towards getting that same diversity in your teams?

Diversity and Creative Thinking

Yeah, that was a really great episode. There were so many good gems in there. Yeah, I particularly agree with what he said about creating teams that are reflective of the society we want to live in and the clients we want to attract. So there was definitely some interesting things there.

I think diverse teams are imperative not just in race and gender or sexual orientation, all that, but it’s certainly ideal, but also in a professional backgrounds. This leads to diverse thinking and perspectives which really cannot be overlooked in our hiring practices. There might be candidates that tick all the boxes on paper. But there might still be someone that hits a little differently and is worth a second look.

On my team alone, I have a philosopher, a trumpet player, a registered nurse. And they’re all also brilliant marketers. When you have a team of independent thinkers and smart contributors around you, the last thing you want to do is stifle their enthusiasm. So I do my best to create an environment where people want to come to work and be their true selves and do their best work for the group. When they feel motivated, encouraged and empowered to bring forth new ideas and not be afraid of failure. I think that’s when you start to see great things happen. And then I also ask for feedback on myself and my work because I still need to hear what I can do to make myself better. We all can improve. And I respect my team and my colleagues enough to ask anything that comes through the team.

That’s great. Yeah, I’m lucky I have people who just tell me I’m screwing up.

But you care enough to listen and do something about it. I think that’s the difference.

So you talked about being the “only”, in meetings, whether it’s the only woman or the only whatever. What advice do you have for someone who’s in a similar situation?

Marketing As a Key Driver for Success

Don’t lose confidence in yourself, if you know that you know what you’re speaking on, if you know that you have the expertise, if you know your content, and you’re prepared, I think that goes a long way. You know, whenever I’m leading discussions, I really make it relevant for the audience, I speak in terms that they’ll understand. I’ve had to position or reposition my work as a science experiment. A lot of times here, you know, I start with a hypotheses, there are variables and controls, I’ve done trials, and then I present the results.

So I kind of have to do it in a way that is different than I would in a consumer client. You know, I kind of present it in a different style, so that they could better appreciate my approach to data driven marketing. It’s not just fluffy, creative stuff, as some of them have actually called it that. Yeah, in fact, well executed, marketing is a key driver of success. And they’re beginning to see that. Yeah, you know, I also continue to paint the business case.

Ultimately, they want more patients, clients, and really revenue. And growth comes from all corners. So they’ll really have to consider efforts that they might not be familiar with. It could be uncomfortable, it’s awkward, it’s hard. But that’s where meaningful change really happens. And if leadership is supportive of that kind of spirit, I think that goes a long way to getting all the parties lined up, getting all the stakeholders and influencers on board with you helps to make those discussions go a little bit easier. And if you can support it with data for a group of scientists.

Yeah, that’s one thing I do like working with doctors. As long as you explain the process and the reasons why, my experience has been that they get it right. They can’t debate the data. We just did a blog about creative, the quality of creative in in terms of ROI. I’ll email it and you can check it out.

What Has Changed in Marketing?

Ok, we have a new segment that you’re going to use you as our guinea pig on.

It’s called It’s Going to be Okay. There’s a lot of change in our business and the change will be constant and probably more rapid as we move ahead. This question is geared more broadly towards marketing in general, not just towards consumerism in healthcare marketing. In just a few sentences, your opinion on what’s changed in marketing, what hasn’t, and why we shouldn’t panic.

What’s changed in marketing is probably the amount of information available to us and the speed at which we get it. Yeah, the amount of sources that we get it from, there’s no longer a single source or just a few channels of information coming at us. It’s coming from all directions from all sorts of people with all different perspectives. And I think it can cause confusion and misinformation and all these negative things we hear about, but also, it makes us more prepared. If we find the right sources if we can dive through the clutter if we can really sift out the noise and get the main nuggets of information from reputable sources. I think that can make people better prepared to make the hard decisions, to have the hard conversations to really make the change, then that’s needed.

So I think when given all the options, if you can cut through it to get the right information, we can then get to the right solution. And hopefully, less panic.

What Hasn’t Changed in Marketing?

So I think what hasn’t changed is the genuine need for social connections and emotional stories. People still, even at a time of social distancing, and all of these new things that keep us separated. People are starting to look up a lot more often than we realize and want to connect with one another. Again, you know, there’s a lot more ideas and blogs and things that are being thrown out there for ways to reconnect. Ways to look inside yourself. And I think people are still needing that familial void. They really are looking for that deeper connection. As much as we think we’re independent or we can just kind of survive on our own. At the end of the day, when there is a crisis or when something’s happening. You just want to hold your loved ones around you. You want to make sure that we’re all together in a safe space. So I think that need for human connection and interaction won’t go anywhere. And if we still tell stories that play into that and really reflect that, it’s gonna keep the message still staying at the forefront.

I agree. Well, thank you so much. Yeah, this has been a lot of fun.

Miranda :
It has been a lot of fun. Thank you so much.

Conclusion and Thanks

Hey, go to CreativeOuthouse.com and check us out. Click on the podcast link and you can find previous episodes and transcripts. Follow Miranda on Twitter at @MirandaMadar. And learn more about Resurgens Orthopedics at Resurgens.com. I want to correct a terrible oversight on my part and thank Resty Concepcion from Music Radio Creative. He edits this show and takes the mess I give him and cranks out a polished episode. Thank you. Thank you to Susan Cooper for producing the show. Gopal Swamy for creating our earcon, Jason Shablik for his audio advice. That’s it for this episode of Marketing Upheaval. And remember, if the current state of marketing has you confused, don’t worry, it’ll all change. Stay healthy. Bye.

Podcast credits:

Host: Rudy Fernandez

Producer and Cover Art: Susan Cooper

Earcon sound design: Gopal Swamy

Audio Consultant: Jason Shablik

Post production provided by: Music Radio Creative

Hosting provided by: Buzzsprout Affiliate Link

Transcripts by: https://otter.ai

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