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HIMSS19 Educational Session Recommendations from Amendola, Healthcare IT’s Top PR/Marketing Agency

Clients’ technologies to shine brightly at largest health IT event of the year

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. — Feb. 6, 2019 — Innovative technologies from Amendola health IT clients will be highlighted in a number of key educational sessions presented by the clients’ end users at HIMSS19, which takes place Feb. 11−15, 2019, in Orlando.

“This year marks Amendola’s 15th anniversary and the 15th consecutive year that our agency will have a presence at HIMSS,” said Jodi Amendola, CEO of the award-winning healthcare and health IT marketing and public relations agency. “It’s been amazing to see how much the conference has grown in the nearly 20 years I’ve been attending—and gratifying to see the tangible results that healthcare organizations are realizing from our clients’ technologies, which will be highlighted in these presentations.”

The speakers, who in a few of the sessions are joined by the technology vendors as co-presenters, will explain how they have overcome some of the biggest healthcare challenges of today by leveraging solutions from Amendola clients, including Alliance for Better Health, Arcadia.io, Ayasdi, Bernoulli, Health Catalyst, Medicomp Systems, Recondo Technology, SAP, SCIO Health Analytics, VisitPay, Vivify Health and Vocera.

Accountable Care Organizations

Predictive Analytics for Data-Driven Care Management – Beth Israel Deaconess Care Organization (BIDCO), a leading, value-based accountable care organization participating in five risk-based contracts, will discuss how to leverage predictive analytics to identify patients most likely to benefit from care coordination. Details: Presented by Sarika Aggarwal, MD, MHCM, Chief Medical Officer of BIDCO, and Bill Gillis, MS, Chief Information Officer; 2:30−3:30 pm Wed. Feb. 13, Room W208C. Highlights technology from Arcadia.io.

Building a Quality-Driven Narrow SNF Network – CareMount ACO, a physician-owned multispecialty medical group participating as a Medicare Next Generation ACO in the Hudson Valley, will explain how it leveraged a population health platform to aggregate data needed to develop a narrow Preferred Provider Network of skilled nursing facilities, home health and other ancillary providers. Details: Presented by Peter Kelly, MBA, Executive Director of CareMount ACO, and Richard Morel, MD, MMM, FCAP, Deputy Chief Medical Officer; 11:30 am−12:30 pm Wed. Feb. 13, Room W315A. Highlights technology from Arcadia.io.

AI and Machine Learning

Cloud Analytics: A Fast Lane to Enable Real-World Evidence – Mercy, one of the largest Catholic health systems in the country, is powering data-driven healthcare with artificial intelligence, machine learning and predictive analytics to benchmark best practices across its 44 acute care and specialty hospitals. As a result, Mercy is uncovering cost savings, improving patient outcomes, and creating new revenue streams to monetize data. Details: Presented by Curtis Dudley, VP of Performance Solutions, Mercy; 9:45−10:15 am Mon. Feb. 11, Rosen Centre Executive Ballroom I. Highlights technology from SAP.

Driving Physician Engagement and Patient Outcomes with Artificial Intelligence – Vituity, a multispecialty partnership of physicians, improved population health and enhanced patient experience by developing AI-driven real-time clinical decision support tools. Details: Presented by Dipti Patel-Misra, PhD, MBA, Chief Data and Analytics Officer, Vituity, and Joshua H. Tamayo-Sarver, MD, PhD, FACEP, BCCI, CPHIMS, Vice President, Informatics; 10−11 am Thurs. Feb. 14, Room W207C. Highlights technology from Health Catalyst.

How AI Enabled a Community Hospital to Tackle Clinical Variation and Reduce Length-of-Stay – Flagler Hospital saved an average of $1,350 per case, reduced the average length of stay by two days, and decreased readmissions by seven times—eliminating nearly $850,000 in costs—by tapping into powerful, unsupervised AI technology. Details: Presented by Michael Sanders, FAAFP, MD, CMIO, Flagler Hospital; 11:40 am−12 pm Mon. Feb. 11, Rosen Centre Junior Ballroom F. Part of the HIMSS19 Machine Learning & AI for Healthcare pre-conference symposium. Highlights technology from Ayasdi.

Machine Learning to Predict Risk and Enhance Efficiency ­– A regional health system in New York applied machine learning to multiple data sources to create a risk model that identifies high- and low-risk patients to reduce 30-day readmissions. Details: Presented by Simer Sodhi, Director of Data Management and Analytics, Westchester Medical Center; 10:45−11:05 am Mon. Feb. 11, Rosen Centre Junior Ballroom F. Part of the HIMSS19 Machine Learning & AI for Healthcare pre-conference symposium. Highlights technology from Health Catalyst.

Inpatient Monitoring

A Business and Clinical Case for Continuous Surveillance – Virtua Memorial Hospital leveraged continuous capnography monitoring in a medical-surgical unit to detect adverse clinical events while also mitigating artifacts related to patient movement, suspect measurements and other medical device-generated alarm signals. Details: Presented by Leah Baron, MD, former Chief of the Department of Anesthesiology at Virtua Memorial Hospital, and John Zaleski, PhD, CPHIMS, CAP, Chief Analytics Officer, Bernoulli; 10−11 am Thurs. Feb. 14, Room W206A. Highlights technology from Bernoulli.

Improving Sepsis Care with Data Analytics – Allina Health developed and implemented a comprehensive, data-driven approach for early identification and reduced variation in sepsis care. Details: Presented by Mischa Adams, MSN, RN, CCRN, Clinical Standard Coordinator, Allina Health, and Sarah Jenson, MS, Analytics Director, Health Catalyst/Allina Health; 1−2 pm Thurs. Feb. 14, Room W206A. Highlights technology from Health Catalyst.

Patient Experience

Restore Human Connections with Collaboration and Technology – The University of Chicago Medicine designed effective approaches to improve the human experience, collaborating with clinical and information and technology leaders to drive positive human connections and transformative change in healthcare. Details: Presented by Sue Murphy, RN, Chief Experience Officer, University of Chicago Medicine, and Diane M. Rogers, CPXP, ACC President, Contagious Change, LLC; 11:30 am−12:30 pm Wed. Feb. 13, Room W204A. Highlights technology from Vocera.

Population Health and Chronic Condition Management

Enhancing Patient Care with Physician-Driven Documentation – Phoenix Children’s Hospital’s ongoing clinical documentation improvement initiative enables efficient, structured documentation, but also allows the organization to harness patient data to create real-time clinical dashboards for more effective care for patients with chronic disease. Details: Presented by Vinay Vaidya, MD, Vice President and Chief Medical Informatics Officer, Phoenix Children’s Hospital, and Michael Shishov, MD, Division Chief of Pediatric Rheumatology; 1:30−2:30 pm Tues. Feb. 12, Room W311A. Highlights technology from Medicomp Systems.

Cracking the Code to Better Quality and Financial Outcomes – Rush Health describes how it used advanced analytics to improve the way it manages risk, resulting in improved patient care and enhanced revenue. Details: Presented by James Grana, PhD, Chief Analytics Officer, Rush Health, and Bala Hota, MD, Chief Analytics Officer, Rush University Medical Center; 1:30−2:30 pm Tues. Feb. 12, Room W206A. Highlights technology from SCIO Health Analytics.

Remote Monitoring Shows Significant Pop Health Benefits – University of Pittsburgh Medical Center and the Ontario Telemedicine Network utilized remote patient monitoring to improve patient engagement and outcomes for chronic disease management. Details: Presented by Andrew Watson, Vice President, Clinical Information Technology Transformation, University of Pittsburgh Medical Center, and Laurie Poole, Vice President, Clinical Innovation, Ontario Telemedicine Network; 10:30−11:30 am Tues. Feb. 12, Room W315B. Highlights technology from Vivify Health.

Patient-Centered Referral Workflow Automation – Steward Health Care Network automated referral workflows improve efficiency, care coordination and patient satisfaction. Details: Presented by Heather Trafton, PA-C, MBA, Senior Vice President of National MSO Operations, Steward Health Care Network, and Kristin Ottariano, MS, Director of Medicaid Operation; 2:30−3:30 pm Thurs. Feb. 14, Room W206A. Highlights technology from Arcadia.io.

Doing Well by Doing Good: Finding the ROI Social Care Programs – This invitation-only roundtable focuses on the outcomes and ROI of treating social needs. The session will focus on identifying disconnects in the current system, and the opportunities for innovations in technology and collaboration to play an important role in the solutions. Details: 3−4 pm Tues. Feb. 12, Hyatt Regency, Room Hyatt – Rock Springs II. Highlights key thought leaders from Alliance for Better Health.

Revenue Cycle Management

How Web Bots Freed $20 Million from a Billing Bottleneck – Avera Health improved cash flow by $20 million dollars in its first year, while reducing aged A/R accounts by almost half, after automating claim status follow-up with healthcare insurance companies using AI technology. Details: Mary Wickersham, MHA, Vice President, Central Business Office Services, Avera Health, and Ryan Ayres, Vice President, Product Management, Recondo Technology; 4:15−5:15 pm Tues. Feb. 12, Room W308A. Highlights technology from Recondo Technology.

The Patient Behind the Bill: Creating a More Satisfying Financial Journey – St. Luke’s Health System in Boise fundamentally re-imagined the patient financial journey, creating a personalized experience that offers patients transparency, choice and control over billing obligations while turning bad debt into consistent payments. Details: Presented by Michael Rawdan, Senior Director, Revenue Cycle & Patient Experience, St. Luke’s Health System; 11:00−11:35 am Mon. Feb. 11, Rosen Centre Grand Ballroom D. Part of the HIMSS19 pre-conference Revenue Cycle Solutions Summit. Highlights technology from VisitPay.

Media Contact:
Marcia Rhodes
Amendola

mrhodes@acmarketingpr.com
Ph: 480.664.8412 ext. 15

6 Reasons Why You (and Your Company) Should Participate in National Healthcare IT Week

On this blog we often talk about how to use PR and marketing to help build the brand and drive sales for healthcare and healthcare IT (HIT) products. Most of the time the activities we discuss require some significant effort. But there’s an online event coming up next week that can actually pay big dividends with considerably less of an investment on your part: National Healthcare IT Week. Here’s the skinny…

Who: Thought leaders, Health IT companies and future Healthcare IT entrepreneurs

What: National Healthcare IT Week #NHITweek

When: October 8th – October 12th

Where: Online and locally

Why: It’s easy, relevant, it’s a great cause and great for building trust as a brand

Founded by HIMSS and the Institute for e-Policy, U.S. National Health IT Week (NHIT Week) is a nationwide awareness week focused on catalyzing actionable change within the U.S. health system through the application of information and technology. The week-long event is celebrated through partner-driven, national and local events along with online conversations through social media. It’s easy to get involved, so what’s the holdup?

Social media is often misunderstood as an unnecessary evil, especially in healthcare, but it is an amazing tool that allows you to reach your audience in a way that was never possible before. While developing and maintaining an online community does take time and resources, events like this allow users to reap some of the benefits quickly.

Even if you don’t have an internal social media coordinator or an amazing agency managing your online presence, you can still participate in National Healthcare IT Week and other similar events. Here are six reasons to jump on board if you haven’t already.

  1. Engage with like-minded people and companies. These types of events create a community around the cause. By finding like-minded people you may be able to make beneficial connections that wouldn’t be possible otherwise.
  2. Gain a better understanding of the conversation. Conversations during these events come from a variety of perspectives. It’s common to get stuck viewing the world with tunnel vision by reviewing the same new sites, having favorite writers and viewpoints.
  3. Find new influencers. Participating in events like this including tweet chats are a great way to quickly find people with similar ideals with your company. You might find people experiencing problems you can solve.
  4. Gain trust with your target market. Trust is one of the most important aspects of the customer experience. These events offer a condensed time-frame that allows you to be a part of the conversation. It’s a great opportunity to show other users that your company actually wants to help.  Humanize your brand and spread awareness for the cause.
  5. Stay top of mind. Your competitors are likely participating in these events. Stay top of mind with your prospects and target market. Bonus: you will be top of mind with good sentiment.
  6. Take advantage of scalability. These events allow your organization to really adjust your involvement based on your resources. Participate in every aspect or do what you can with the time you and your team have available.

Here’s how you can get involved:

  • Become a partner
  • Share on social media
  • Share your story
  • Create or participate in an event locally

Be sure to let us know how you participate in the comments below too!

Rhodes’ Map to Turbocharged Presentations

Rhodes’ Map to Turbocharged Presentations

When it comes to HIMSS Global Conference speaker proposals, Amendola Communications enjoys a 75% win rate. That means that out of 12 speaking abstracts we write and submit on behalf of our clients, nine are accepted.

Quite impressive considering that HIMSS has a less than 30% acceptance rate. In fact, for HIMSS18, 742 proposals were received and only 224 were accepted, which means 518 were declined.

The process is not easy and takes anywhere from 12-16 hours per proposal. If only clients would invest the same time and energy in preparing their presentations! If clients were willing to carve out time for presentation training or coaching before they get up on the stage, here is what I would suggest.

Grab attention. High tech need not be dry tech. Instead of diving right into your presentation, open with a bang with one or more of the following:

  • Startling statistic or statement
  • Rhetorical question
  • Historical analogy or example
  • Quotation
  • Personal anecdote
  • Something specific to your audience
  • Something to make audience feel good about themselves
  • Promise
  • Meme
  • Short story (see example below)
  • Headline from today’s newspaper (show newspaper)

For this last one, I am quoted in the book Presentations for Dummies (as Marcia Lemmons, my former married name) sharing this very tip. I first saw it used by a business development director at Accenture where I worked in the 90’s. The biz dev director would begin his presentation by holding up a fresh copy of USA Today or the Wall Street Journal. He would point to a headline and find a clever way to tie it to his presentation. This had the effect of making his presentation more current, relevant and way more interesting.

Short stories can be impactful if you can deliver them in 30 seconds or less. I saw this technique used very effectively by a Six Sigma Master Black Belt who would tell “The Dolphin Story” to open a workshop on the Voice of the Customer. It went like this:

“During World War II a mythology developed that dolphins love people. It was a myth propagated by sailors who dolphins rescued from drowning by pushing them ashore. A crew decided to set up camp on a ship to observe this first hand. After a few weeks on the ship, they concluded: dolphins don’t love people…they like to push things…the problem is we never hear from the people they push back into sea.”

State the problem or need. Why should the audience care? Spend one to two minutes sharing evidence, data, news reports or personal experience to illustrate the problem or opportunity. Stating the challenge up-front makes the audience uncomfortable enough that they will want to stay to hear your solution. This is referred to as the “tension-relief” technique used by playwrights.

Establish a pattern. Tell the audience what to expect from you in the next hour. Provide a roadmap agenda so they can more easily follow along.

 Presentation patterns can be in the form of:

  • Lists
  • Chronological order
  • Physical location (ex: Europe, Asia, N. America)
  • Extended metaphor
  • Divide a word
  • Before/after
  • Theory/practice
  • Why/how/what
  • Provider/payer/pharma
  • Classic story (three acts)

Share the solution. This is the guts of your presentation; the knowledge or expertise you have been asked to share. Tip: When creating your presentation, you can get a jumpstart by working on this section first then working on your intro, extro and other slides later. You will find your creativity will kick in once you feel confident in what you have to say and can easily build on top of it.

Finish strong! Remind your audience of what they’ve just heard. In this section you can underscore the problem or remind them of what’s worth remembering. What are they supposed to do or change? Tie your closing statements to your opening grabber so the presentation feels whole and complete; you’ve come full circle. Give a clear signal that “We’re done.”

Rethink Q&A…

Many presenters make the mistake of ending their presentation with the audience Q&A. They take questions from the audience and provide answers that they may not have had a chance to prepare for. This is also the section where it is easy for a speaker to lose control of the room. We recommend taking no more than six questions before bringing your presentation to a proper close with a few choice statements. You might even ask and answer your own question at the very end. For example, “One question CIOs almost always ask me is….” Then provide your well thought-out answer.

Making it work

As a society, we don’t just want to be informed. We want to be entertained too. Just look at the news today compared to 30 years ago. As they say, “Educate the best, entertain the rest.”

The same holds true for presentations. The more lively and engaging you make it, the more your audience will be interested in what you have to say. Think through the structure, grab their interest from the beginning, and give them valuable insights they didn’t know before and you’ll keep your audience riveted. Then sit back and enjoy the applause.

And if you need a little help, give us a call!

What I learned at my first HIMSS

First and foremost, this is a BIG show. Okay, obviously this is a big show. But it’s important to understand this isn’t the type of trade show where the cool startup with hopes and dreams of changing the world can make a huge splash. At least, not without a plan.

As a first-time attendee, there were some confirmations and surprises that led to a few insights. Here are some tips to help kick-start your strategy for your first HIMSS.

Stop singing the same old song

Reporters are booked solid well before the conference begins and they are hearing “stories” all day. If it’s your first HIMSS, you may be surprised by the amount of similar ideas, products and solutions across the board. Let me tell you, the editors are not.

Whether it’s your first HIMSS or your 30th, make sure you have something to say. Passion plus results are rewarded in almost any industry and the same rings true in Healthcare IT. Don’t offer one without the other.

No one wants to hear about a product and all the technical aspects you have painstakingly perfected. They want to hear about what your solution is going to do for them (or their readers) now.

Don’t get it twisted. We are all very thankful for all the hard work, but the fact of the matter is there is too much going on to appreciate all of that hard work. Have something to say with weight.

Do your research before you go

Don’t waste time deciding what you’re going to do once you get to HIMSS. Everything moves too fast, and it takes too long to get from one place to the other. The conference may be several days long, but it goes by in a blink. Have a plan as an attendee or as an exhibitor.

Most of all, don’t make meetings with people that don’t make sense. Time, space and (good) coffee are precious luxuries at HIMSS. Don’t waste them.

Talk to people, and ask questions

Not just any questions – ask the one that you are hesitant about.

As a millennial, I think that we undervalue face-to-face interactions. There is something about being in front of people where you can get answers to questions you might not ask in a formal meeting setting or email. For one, they can’t just ignore your question.

Before all of my telehealth peeps give me a hard time – don’t worry, I still have no interest in physically stepping into my doctor’s office on a regular basis. Telemedicine rules!

A lot of flash doesn’t mean a lot of cash…flow

It was sad to see the booths with a premier spot just watch all the attendees walk by without giving their super cool mini golf game a try. Booth traffic success comes in layers, and although this conference was in Las Vegas, you can’t just take a shallow approach to entice the shrewd people of this trade show.

Take a note from the brilliant Lisa Chernikoff,  “As savvy marketing professionals know, the best trade show marketing strategies start early and establish a regular cadence of communication.” Emphasis on start early. Your booth traffic strategy should not rely solely on a game of putt-putt. Meetings with a purpose, strategies that give attendees something they can use to fix their problems and well thought-out strategies for making conversation are what seem to be the keys to success at mega trade shows such as HIMSS.

The thought of tackling this type of huge trade show without a specialized agency and expecting results brings to mind a few analogies…

  • Scuba diving without a tank
  • Planning a wedding for tomorrow
  • Teaching a fish to ride a bicycle
  • Baking a cake with cardboard appliances

And of course, the rumors are true – you will always be lost, hungry, searching for an outlet and totally amazed at what we are doing as an industry to improve healthcare. Now, I need to go buy some AirPods and avoid ever using or hearing the word leverage again.

 

Time to turn your trade show booth from salesroom to learning lab

Time to turn your trade show booth from salesroom to learning lab

“Be sure to bring back lots of product literature from the trade show,” said…no one ever.

As my colleague Lisa Chernikoff pointed out in a recent blog, people simply don’t go to trade shows to buy your product. They go to learn. But when they approach your booth, what do they see to compel them to stay and learn something new? If you’re drawing a blank, it’s okay. That’s what this blog post is for: to show you some new ways to draw traffic in your booth and impart meaningful information that will “stick” with attendees well after they leave.

Strategy #1: Instead of a banner announcing your product or company, announce that “class is in”

Does your company address patient engagement, value-based care or some other hot concept in healthcare? Consider making your entire booth a class in this concept, with the appropriate banner, such as “Value-Based Care 101” or “Patient Engagement Pop-Up University.” And sure, by all means include “presented by (your company)” or your company logo. But make sure this is the secondary, less prominent message.

Strategy #2: Instead of a demo, offer a class or game

Once you’ve attracted the attendee’s interest with your signage, be sure to make good on its promise. Offer attendees an experience that imparts valuable knowledge to them. Here a customer champion can be recruited to give short 20-minute presentations about their success in addressing the theme of your booth, such as value-based care or patient engagement. To capture leads, have attendees register for the session. Make sure this isn’t a product pitch, though. While some mention of your product can be given, attendees want to hear a real world story from their peer—not an infomercial.

A quiz that asks provocative questions—paired with equally provocative answers—is another effective way to make knowledge (and by extension, your company) “stick” with an attendee.

Even a standard product demo can be upgraded to a more experiential event. In one example, Medicomp, an Amendola client, takes attendees through a virtual experience in the form of a game, which is essentially a 3-minute product preview. It highlights the key capabilities and product features, as well as the streamlined user experience, in the context of winning a prize rather than buying a product. The experience gets attendees interested in learning more and helps to weed out the wrong people so the Medicomp team knows when it’s appropriate to invest time in a full demo.

Strategy #3: Instead of brochures, put out case studies, guides and other learning material

It’s not that product literature doesn’t have its place, but on its own, a brochure is most valuable to pack rats who can’t stand to throw anything away. But as Chernikoff bluntly notes in her blog, even that fate is unlikely.

“Nobody wants your marketing brochure! It will end up in the next trash can even if they take it, and if it makes it back to their room, it will end up in the hotel trash can. They also really don’t want a folder with multiple product one-pagers and a recent press release about your new product,” she writes.

A better idea, Chernikoff continues, is to give attendees material such as case studies that illustrate real-world scenarios while highlighting your unique value proposition. I would add to that guides, how-to’s, checklists and other learning material that, collectively, will make the reader far more knowledgeable on a topic than he or she was before.

Of course, the material should be compellingly written so that it will actually be read—and if you are going to invest in producing this material, it’s wise to also invest in a professional writer to write it.

We’ve created a number of such pieces for various clients to use at their trade shows, including a compilation of “user tips and strategies” for Bayer to hand out at RSNA; a brief on new technology services and trends for the lab for 4medica to distribute at the Lab Confab; and case studies for our client HealthBI to pass out to attendees at a regional conference.

Strategy #4: Instead of cheap tchotchkes, raffle off a quality—and related—prize

In keeping with the educational theme of your booth, how about raffling off a mini-library of interesting books on the topic your booth addresses? (All the better if your company authored one of the books!) You could open up the raffle to anyone, or narrow it down to attendees of your various learning sessions. Be sure to offer to ship some or all of the books for free, as traveling with more than a few will be difficult for most attendees.

Another idea: give attendees a thumb drive titled “Teach Your Own Patient Engagement Class” or “Value-Based Care 102” or something similar that is stocked with educational content.

In conclusion, keep in mind that an educational trade show booth also aligns well with today’s information-hungry buyers. You’ve likely heard that when it comes to big ticket items, most people have made up their mind what they’re going to buy—and from whom–before they actually reach out to a vendor. This is why so many companies have an educational, content marketing strategy in place today, and why it makes sense to take a similar approach with your tradeshow booth. Make it a place of learning—and watch the traffic and good leads follow.

Jodi Amendola Healthcare Radio Now interview

A-Team CEO Jodi Amendola Interview on HealthcareNOW Radio

We’re always excited when one of our own steps out from behind the scenes to grab the spotlight. In this episode of “What’s My Tagline?” from HealthcareNOW Radio, host Carol Flagg interviews Amendola Communications CEO (and self-described HIT Connector) Jodi Amendola. Jodi, of course, was recently named one of PR News’ Top Women in PR for 2017.

Over the course of the 27 minute discussion, Jodi shares her personal story on how she got started in healthcare IT, how Amendola Communications came to be one of the top healthcare IT PR firms in the country, and how the industry has changed from the early days of print, when it could take three months for a story to appear, to the 24 x 7 news cycle of today.

She then goes into detail on how to be successful exhibiting and speaking at HIMSS – including the planning that goes into it and the follow-up needed to maximize the benefits afterward. Jodi also shares some specific examples of how AC clients have been successful in reaching their target audiences, whether those are prospects, journalists, or analysts. The interview ends with Jodi sharing her look ahead to what 2018 will bring. Definitely worth a listen!

Tradeshow Trauma: Why “booth traffic was slow” is a lame excuse and how to prepare for conference success

As a marketing and PR professional who has spent countless hours in tradeshow booths and walked more than 20,000 steps at the HIMSS conference while wearing heels, I’ve experienced both the glory and the defeat of being an exhibitor. And while there is no better feeling than packing up your boxes, tearing down the booth and heading home after a job well done, there is also no greater pain than realizing that your company’s precious time and resources were virtually wasted because your conference strategy fell short.

After every tradeshow, it’s common to speak with exhibitors who complain that “booth traffic was slow” and cite that reason as the root of their conference failure. But let’s be honest — that’s a lame excuse. It’s the easy way out to blame poor performance at the show on exhibit hall organizers rather than reflecting on how your team may be at fault, or at least largely contributed to the problem.

In fact, upon much-needed reflection, those complainers would see that they are likely committing the cardinal sin of tradeshow marketing. They’re only focused on the conference.  They’re not focused on the holistic strategy that enables the smartest, more successful companies to succeed at conferences again and again and again.

To avoid this tradeshow trauma and emerge triumphant in 2018, it’s critical for companies to have a three-pronged approach that includes not just a conference strategy where you show up and wait, but also and even more importantly a pre-conference strategy and a post-conference strategy.

Here are 4 insider secrets to help you get started:

#1 Never rely on booth traffic 

Sure, booth traffic is nice and we all want it but it’s even better to drive traffic to your booth in advance. As savvy marketing professionals know, the best tradeshow marketing strategies start early and establish a regular cadence of communication. Most companies find that implementing a targeted email campaign starting 6 weeks in advance of the show is ideal but some may find that 8 weeks or 4 weeks works best for their audience.

These emails should be geared to both sales prospects to schedule meetings or demos and current clients to have a face-to-face touchpoint and determine cross-sale opportunities. As always, the top-performing emails are brief and targeted to attendees by role and job setting. It’s also best to have a form where attendees can schedule time and then receive a confirmation with a calendar invite. Why is that so important? It gets you on attendees’ calendars before they arrive at the show and are overwhelmed. Also, then your team can send them reminders about the scheduled slot or reach out if they don’t arrive as planned.

#2 Winning is great but winning isn’t everything

Pre-conference email campaigns can also invite attendees to activities in the booth such as speaking events or games instead of just meetings and demos. They can also offer attendees “a chance to win” and highlight big prizes, but they must not rely on the allure of a gimmick alone. There are few too many promotions for your giveaway to break through the noise. A pre-conference strategy that shares quality content, in addition to touting “a trip for 100 around the world” is the safest, most effective way to not only illustrate thought leadership but also to create brand awareness of your company as leader and innovator that offers far more than just a chance to win – but rather real ROI.

#3 Think like an attendee

Spoiler alert for those many hours spent in the booth. Nobody wants your marketing brochure! It will end up in the next trash can even if they take it, and if it makes it back to their room, it will end up in the hotel trash can. They also really don’t want a folder with multiple product one-pagers and a recent press release about your new product. Please note that this realization also spares your marketing team and admin hours of folder stuffing. Yes, you’re welcome.

The big idea here is to remember why attendees are at the conference. Most attendees are there to learn, not to purchase your “ground-breaking, best in class, fully integrated solution.” So, give them what they want like client case studies with real-world insights and thought leadership that demonstrates your knowledge and unique perspective. That’s the true value proposition that won’t get throw in the trash.

#4 Follow-up, follow-up, follow-up 

It’s great to have a successful show, but it’s what companies do afterwards that matters most. It’s all about the follow-up communications, which should include a series of e-blasts, with the first prepared ahead of time and sent within 1-2 days of show close. The post-show e-blast should provide an opportunity to continue to engage with your company by downloading a new piece of content, registering for a webinar, or scheduling a full product demo for their broader team. However, the e-blast is not enough. To see results, it must be complimented by personalized follow-up from the sales team where there is even a small percentage chance of generating new pipeline. Without this timely and dedicated post-show communications, it’s impossible to reap the benefits of your hard work pre-show and at the show.

Remember, it doesn’t matter how many people attend the tradeshow. Only that the right people make it to your booth.

Instead of leaving success to chance, put together a three-prong plan that will tip the odds in your favor. It sure beats coming up with lame excuses later.

 

Should You Bet It All on a Trade Show Launch?

When it comes to product launches, many companies hang their hat on making a big splash at the biggest trade show in their industry. And then they are disappointed.

For those targeting the healthcare IT market, that usually means HIMSS. For those targeting providers, the Medical Group Management Association (MGMA) show is often cited as a great launching pad.

For payers, it’s the Association of Health Insurance Plans (AHIP) Institute & Expo. For a life science/pharma audience, eyeforpharma Barcelona is a perennial favorite due to the heavy pharma presence in Europe.

But as Caterina Lui of PR Newswire points out on the Beyond PR blog, launching during a big show is not always ideal. And in another Beyond PR post, she provides excellent insights on whether your solution is even truly ready to launch.

One of the biggest drawbacks to launching at such large industry trade shows and conferences is the sheer number of companies who are planning to do likewise. This becomes an even more pronounced challenge if your company is launching a minor upgrade to its platform or app, or if your company is a newcomer or relative unknown in the market.

In both cases, a launch as much as a month or even two months before a trade show can help build momentum going into the show, instead of being crowded out by all the PR noise generated during the show. It allows you a greater opportunity to secure quality time with reporters whose conference schedules (covering educational sessions, filing stories, doing social media posts, etc.) are pretty crammed during the conference. It also allows you to brief analysts at the top firms ahead of the launch.

Here are some other best practices for trade show launches from my Amendola colleagues:

Lisa Chernikoff, Account Director – In the best-case scenario for a product launch at a trade show, you can not only include results and ROI from a beta customer or pilot site in the press release, but also have that client available for an interview at the show (or before or after). Clients speaking about their experience with the product is much more beneficial than company execs talking about features and functionality.

Also, make sure that the new product info highlights not only what it is, but also why it really matters for the target audience. What are the larger implications for the market? How does it relate to industry trends and issues?

Chad Van Alstin, Content & Media Relations Manager – As a former editor, I always found it challenging to cover product launches at trade shows without some kind of prior knowledge. Simply telling me a company was going to announce a product pretty much melded together with all the other launches after a while.

There has to be some kind of teaser or hook – a spoiler that many companies are often hesitant to give away ahead of the show – that is released to the media a week or two in advance. Otherwise, it all just becomes noise after a while, especially with a huge show like HIMSS. I think too many companies rely on the fact that editors will simply want to cover whatever it is the company is doing – but in a market with so many new names added to a long list every year, that’s just never the case. You have to spoil things a little bit in order to drum up interest.

Amy Koehlmoos, Senior Account Director – Leverage the power of social media – create a Twitter campaign around the product launch and use the show’s #hashtag to reach attendees. As with any campaign, frequency is key, but be sure to follow best practices and include plenty of non-promotional tweets to maintain an optimal content mix.

Rich media (images, videos and graphics) will help your tweets stand out above the noise, and don’t be afraid to get creative. People are much more likely to share a clever meme than a picture of a widget.

Stephanie Janard, Senior Writer — If you’re launching a new software solution, there’s no hard and fast rule that says you have to actually demo it. In this era of value-based care, why not stage a demo that shows how life can be better as a result of using your newly launched software or app? Likewise, if you have a tangible, physical product to demo, make a real show of it – preferably with a real-life example. If you can get champion customers on the act, all the better.

So there you have it from the A-Team experts (and PR Newswire). Should you bet it all on a trade show launch or not? It may be a crapshoot, but make sure you evaluate all your options both at the show and in other timeframes before committing your entire marketing budget to the effort. And please share your thoughts below on what you have seen that works well for a product launch – either at, before or after a trade show.

Industry analysts offer their predictions on hot trends for 2017

Industry Analysts’ Predictions for 2017

HIMSS is now a distant memory and you’re struggling to remember what happened last week, let alone the show’s key takeaways. Never fear, I’ve got you covered! I reached out to several top industry analysts with whom I’ve worked for years, as well a Health 2.0 co-founder, and summarized the key themes. Consider it your industry crystal ball reading for 2017.

 #1 — Artificial Intelligence (AI) will be the bright, shiny object of 2017.

 Barry Runyon, Research VP, Gartner:

“AI, analytics, interoperability and cybersecurity seemed pretty pervasive [at HIMSS17] – AI in particular.”

Sven Lohse: Healthcare IT Services Strategies, IDC Health Insights:

“For the first time at scale, HIMSS17 showcased applications of artificial intelligence and machine learning technology in the healthcare context with promise for improving operations, finance and care delivery.”

Matthew Guldin, Senior Analyst, Chilmark Research:

“AI and machine learning seemed to dominate as the buzzword(s) of HIMSS17. Finding actual use cases was a bit more challenging, but there were vendors that were demonstrating its potential value around medication refills, pre-visit planning and virtual health coaching.”

#2 Population health and care management/coordination will receive a face-lift with voice assistants, cloud-based platforms and the seemingly ubiquitous AI.

Nancy Fabozzi, Principal Analyst, Transformational Health, Frost & Sullivan

“Voice is the next big user interface for computing and truly something to get excited about for its potential in healthcare, especially voice assistants for care management and patient engagement. Amazon’s Alexa is taking the lead here and many new companies will emerge to support this important trend. Merck’s new partnership with Amazon to support voice-enabled solutions for chronic disease management is a very positive development; we will be watching this one closely.”

Matthew Holt, Co-founder of Health 2.0

“[At HIMSS]…the new cloud-based population health and analytics systems showed promise, if not yet penetration.”

Matthew Guldin, Senior Analyst, Chilmark Research:

“If providers are going to be effective at scaling their present care management programs, a much higher degree of automation will be required with the application of this [AI and machine learning] technology in care management applications playing a critical role.”

Deanne Kasim, Founding Partner, Santesys Solutions

“Regardless of the outcome of “repeal and replace,” value-based reimbursement and better care coordination are here to stay and will only grow in importance.”

#3 Blockchain may be the answer to the interoperability and cybersecurity questions.

 Sven Lohse: Healthcare IT Services Strategies, IDC Health Insights:

“Blockchain in healthcare also garnered significant attention with multiple [HIMSS] sessions highlighting how blockchain could solve such challenges as interoperability, security and making healthcare transactions more transparent.”

Deanne Kasim, Founding Partner, Santesys Solutions

“Look for blockchain to be a bigger topic at HIMSS18.”

#4 Bonus thoughts: TCO & bringing people back into the equation. 

 Barry Runyon, Research VP, Gartner:

“Looking around, I think the TCO of IT is going to become a bigger issue.”

Barbara McGann – Chief Resource Officer at Horses for Sources; FSH Research

“While at HIMSS, I saw an endless variety of technology offerings, and among them, people—physicians, EMTs, nurses, patients, caregivers—all of whom want a healthier society. We need to not only connect the systems for interoperability, but also connect the individuals. IT professionals need to be just as excited as doctors, nurses and caregivers about truly changing people’s lives through healthcare in order to really have an impact.”

Deanne Kasim, Founding Partner, Santesys Solutions

“I noticed more focus on the Social Determinants of Health (SDoH), but vendors have different approaches in terms of what data they have and how it is used. I think the industry is just beginning to tap the potential here of how to access and use this information.”

Finally, my personal prediction: Regardless of your technology, product or service, 2017 will offer endless possibilities for growth if you follow best practices, execute efficiently and take advantage of strategic industry guidance. The A-team is here to help! Contact us at @AmendolaComm or at info@acmarketingpr.com.

HIMSS is like Christmas at Amendola

HIMSS Is Over….Now What?

At our agency we think of HIMSS as our “Christmas.” We face similar time pressures and high expectations as those in retail leading up to the holiday, but as one team member says, “HIMSS is the ‘Happiest Time of Year.”

Like the annual family gatherings, we see clients, media, analysts and industry leaders all in one place. We network with old and new colleagues, learn about new offerings and trends and much more. However, it’s not all Christmas carols and eggnog. There’s quite a bit of hard work that occurs months before HIMSS: arranging meetings, creating themes, developing strategies and plans, and then poof – it’s over. Just like Christmas, the rush of opening presents is over in a blink and before you know it, it’s time to take the tree down and do your gift returns.

It’s true, HIMSS is now over, but there is still fun to be had! As you leverage the opportunities you uncovered and follow-up on all of the activities leading up to and at the show, you’ll experience the “gifts” of secured bylined articles, analyst coverage and strengthened relationships.

And even if you still have a HIMSS hangover — and that extra Tylenol and sleep hasn’t yet kicked in – we’ve made it easy for you with the best practices listed below. Follow each step and you’ll magic those leads into tangible results!

  • Do your follow-ups from media interviews, networking events, speakers you enjoyed, potential partners, existing partners with whom you met, etc. In fact, often the best conversations come from those random instances where you bumped into someone on the exhibit hall floor or in the elevator. Never underestimate the impact of unexpected conversations and meetings at HIMSS – those are my favorites. After 20+ years of attending the conference, I love the reunion aspect of it. It’s the perfect way to re-connect with industry colleagues, clients and members of the media. Be sure to follow-up with a note on LinkedIn or an email – you never know what will happen!
  • Great information doesn’t mean actionable information. Translate what you’ve heard/learned into goals and actionable next steps. But don’t get distracted by the shiny new objects that you learned about at HIMSS. Instead, focus on what applies to your organization, your product line and the larger business/industry problems that your company’s solutions address. Don’t try to be all things to all people – it just doesn’t work. Be clear about who you are, your value proposition and unique differentiators, and most importantly, how you solve your client’s real-world problems.
  • Biggest challenge: Prioritization of all those great ideas! HIMSS is over – now don’t waste the investment. Develop a calendar of follow-up marketing initiatives to continue driving interest and momentum, along with an execution strategy. Below are some of my personal secrets to success:
    • Did you launch a new product at HIMSS? Do you have a client user or a pilot running? Did you conduct a Focus Group or survey at the show? Now is a good time to share the results. Leverage post-HIMSS press releases to continue the excitement. Be strategic and space the news out appropriately. Generally, I recommend a cadence of every other week, if news permits.
    • Continue your social media outreach using #HIMSS17 – and even add #HIMSS18 as you look toward the coming year’s trends!
    • Wondering what to do with all the contact information you collected from prospects, potential partners and investors who stopped by your booth? Implement a timely email campaign to continue the conversations and reach them at various stages of the buying funnel. I suggest disseminating a series of targeted e-blasts with a strong call-to-action such as downloading a gated white paper, infographic, ROI calculator or other value-added content.
    • Did you capture client testimonial videos at the show? Embed them into your corporate presentations, highlight them on your website and promote them via social media.
    • Did you or your clients present at HIMSS? Take that content and turn it into one or more thought leader articles, blog posts, ebooks, webinars (which can then be uploaded to SlideShare), podcasts and possibly the inspiration for a thought leadership video series. Content can usually be sliced and diced in multiple ways; leverage what you have rather than creating new materials.
  • Biggest misstep: Not tying your new/updated goals, strategies, and tactics derived from HIMSS’ insights to your organizational KPIs. Remember, if your results don’t track to the CEO’s expectations, they don’t count!

P.S. Don’t forget to tune in for my next post on healthcare IT analysts’ and key influencers’ top takeaways from HIMSS. They’ll set you on the right path for the rest of 2017! Finally, I hope you all had a Merry HIMSS – I know our A-Team did!