Engagement via EMRs, CRMs and State Fairs

Posted on September 12, 2013 I Written By

As Social Marketing Director at Billian, Jennifer Dennard is responsible for the continuing development and implementation of the company's social media strategies for Billian's HealthDATA and Porter Research. She is a regular contributor to a number of healthcare blogs and currently manages social marketing channels for the Health IT Leadership Summit and Technology Association of Georgia’s Health Society. You can find her on Twitter @JennDennard.

Do Your Bottom Line a Favor – Don’t Ignore Social Media
Following up on last week’s post, I’ll give some airtime to a new development from athenahealth, which in my mind further connects the dots between Stage 2 Meaningful Use and social media. The company recently announced that it will now offer Demandforce automated marketing, communication, and reputation building software as part of the athenahealth Marketplace. “Social media has clearly arrived and is not going away. The fact is that our patients are on these platforms with or without us and there’s incredible value in being able to connect with them online,” said Anthony Cerullo, Founders Family Medicine and Urgent Care, in a press release announcing the new offering. “Navigating the waters of patient engagement is challenging in traditional settings, let alone the world of social platforms.”

While he doesn’t mention Meaningful Use specifically, I get the impression that social media is a component of the patient engagement efforts his practice has adopted. A reader’s comment on my last blog post took me to task for assuming providers can even find the time to partake in social networking on behalf of their practice. They lamented that it’s just one more thing to do in a provider’s already too-busy day, and often doesn’t warrant attention because there is no definable ROI.

When a company like athenahealth decides to offer a service like Demandforce, it makes me think that providers might end up shooting themselves in the foot if they willfully ignore the brand reputation opportunities social networking can bring. I’d love to hear more opinions on this in the comments below.

I’m a Consumer. Engage Me!
The North Georgia State Fair will soon open its gates, and while I don’t have plans to attend this year, I wonder if payers in the Peach State would do well to follow in the footsteps of Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Minnesota, which handed out 4,000+ vouchers for free e-visits with providers at the Minnesota state fair. I’m a big fan of engaging with consumers where they already are, rather than taking them/us out of comfort zones in order to gain our business.


That being said, I feel like my local health system, WellStar, missed out on a great marketing opportunity with their recent mailer for the semi-new urgent care center. I would tape this to my fridge if it offered a $10 discount on my next visit. What consumer doesn’t like saving money, especially when it comes to unanticipated visits to the doctor?