Why Has Marketing Been Left Out of the Discussion About Digital Transformation?

One of the topics we often discuss in our healthcare marketing community is the challenge of aligning sales and marketing.  It’s the topic that will never be fully resolved and will always be a challenges.  What’s fascinating on the healthcare provider side of things is the same disconnect between CIO and CMO (Chief Marketing Officer).  At most healthcare organizations marketing and IT operate in silos as big as the Epic and Cerner installations that are just across the street (I know it’s gotten better, but I couldn’t resist).

Understanding this, it wasn’t really a surprise when Jared Johnson asked the following question about healthcare digital transformation:

It’s sad but true that at many healthcare organizations marketing has been left out of the conversation.  This is really frustrating to me because when I look at the skills and technology that’s going to be needed to move to value based care, most of them have a heavy dose of marketing involved.  Can you move to value based care without the right marketing skills and technology?  My answer is no.

This makes understanding Jared’s question important.  If we know why they’ve been left out (or chosen to sit out), then we can work to close the gap.

My slightly sarcastic reply to Jared was the following: They’re too busy updating the website.

That was only slightly sarcastic.  The deeper aspect of my reply is two fold.  First, some marketing leaders at healthcare organizations are so overwhelmed by the operational requirements of their jobs (the website, internal communications, PR, lead generation, etc) that they aren’t in the right mindset to take on digital transformation.  Second, some marketing professionals don’t have the bigger vision of how their skills could really contribute to their organization’s digital transformation.  Basically, some think that their job is the website.  Although, Jared Johnson more aptly suggested that some in marketing hide behind their “marketing” title as a shield to not spend the time understanding the core business.

Of course, Kelly David appropriately described that the other direction can be true as well when she shared “Leaders (in many cases) don’t understand the value of marketing or the true role of marketing. It’s a major challenge.”

A number of other people shared responses as well.  Kate Corbett offered:

I have had this go different ways:
1) marketing is at the table and leading but is a partner to IT + clinicians
2) they are at the table but demand the experience be just like Uber.  This is not a partner
3) they only talk lead gen and CRM so there is no invite

Jared added to her 2nd point about with marketing leaders “talking in blue-sky generalities with no understanding of how to pragmatically achieve anything” and her 3rd point where they’re “so siloed in their myopic lead gen world that they can’t even have a conversation w/other leaders.”

Ed Marx, brought it home when he shared the following in response to Jared’s question:

Oof. Lots of reasons.

Lack of alignment between CDO/CMO being numero uno

What we need is a more Lennon-McCartney relationship (pre Yoko), where CDO/CMO are so in tune that you can’t tell them apart

Stop living out of “Yesterday” and embrace radical and progressive thinking

There you have it.  It’s all about alignment and connecting humans to a common vision.  Although, I think along with that it’s important to recognize the strength and value that each person on the team can bring to the process.  Lennon and McCartney were better together and it’s true with marketing and IT in healthcare when we have a unified vision as well.

How do you bridge that gap?  I asked myself, “What would Ed Marx do?”  My guess is that it would probably include a box of donuts, a 10k run, dinner at my place, or a night out dancing.  These human connections often do far more for alignment than committee meetings and zoom calls.

What are you seeing in your healthcare organization?  Are marketing and IT aligned?  Why aren’t they aligned?  Is there value in having them aligned and on the digital transformation team?

About the author

John Lynn

John Lynn

John Lynn is the Founder of HealthcareScene.com, a network of leading Healthcare IT resources. The flagship blog, Healthcare IT Today, contains over 13,000 articles with over half of the articles written by John. These EMR and Healthcare IT related articles have been viewed over 20 million times.

John manages Healthcare IT Central, the leading career Health IT job board. He also organizes the first of its kind conference and community focused on healthcare marketing, Healthcare and IT Marketing Conference, and a healthcare IT conference, EXPO.health, focused on practical healthcare IT innovation. John is an advisor to multiple healthcare IT companies. John is highly involved in social media, and in addition to his blogs can be found on Twitter: @techguy.

1 Comment

  • Again and again…success, progress, innovation comes back to people and relationships, not technology.

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