Building Blocks Kyra Hagan, SVP Marketing Communications at Influence Health Talks Marketing Tech

Kyra Hagan shares her views on the need for martech investments in the healthcare industry, the challenge with disconnected consumer data and the need for a healthcare-specific CRM. Wife, mom, dog-lover and beach bum, this modern marketer, innovating for the greater good, is also a speaker, blogger, trusted advisor to professional women in the tech industry.

1. Could you tell me a little about yourself and how you came to be the SVP of Marketing Communications at Influence Health?

For nearly two decades, I have served in a number of leadership roles at Influence Health and Cerner Corporation, where I’ve built and led high performing teams in the development, delivery, marketing and sales of cutting-edge healthcare information technologies. Specifically, as the SVP & General Manager of Marketing and Communications, I create the marketing strategy and oversee the programs that create demand for Influence Health’s consumer engagement products and services.

More importantly though, I’m passionate about helping healthcare marketers succeed by encouraging them to look at healthcare through the eyes of the customer. As a card-carrying member of the Sandwich Generation, I’ve spent more than 25 years of my life managing the health of my parents, husband and daughter, which has unfortunately included some serious illnesses and chronic conditions. Throughout all my interactions with various health systems, I have seen countless opportunities to improve the consumer experience and thereby increase satisfaction and brand loyalty. As a company, Influence Health embodies the same mantra, making it a perfect match for my skills and passions.

2. Are you happy with the buy-in for Marketing Technology that exists at Influence Health? Do you think the investments being made are adequate or could be more?

At Influence Health, we’ve been working to help healthcare marketers build the business case for digital since the mid-90’s. We spend each day discussing and showcasing the value of martech investments – from CRMs, to contemporary CMS platforms, to social ads - to and on behalf of our hospital and health system clients. We wouldn’t be able to do that if we weren’t drinking the Kool-Aid, too. We believe so much in the solutions we build that we use them ourselves.

Regretfully, investment of martech in the healthcare industry overall is far from adequate. In 2015, only 14 percent of healthcare marketing budgets went to digital efforts, while other industries, like retail, consistently increase digital spend by double-digits annually. At Influence Health, we’re passionate about helping healthcare marketers modernize their budgets and tools in order to attract and engage today’s healthcare consumers.

3. What is the key problem you are attempting to solve with marketing technology implementation – could be 360 customer view, better customer experiences, crafting better journeys, full circle attribution?

At Influence Health, we know marketing technology can help solve a multitude of the problems that the healthcare industry is facing. However, in order to start making progress, the industry needs to solve the disconnect between what consumers want and value in a healthcare provider and what providers are focused on delivering.

The progressive healthcare organizations that are attempting to deliver are facing a few serious challenges. First and foremost is disconnected consumer data. While healthcare organizations sit on top of a wealth of consumer information, that data is locked in legacy systems and offline records that aren’t always accessible to marketing, or at least not in real-time for use by marketing systems. The more digital channels come onboard, the bigger the potential for marketers, but the more serious the data silo problem becomes. Until health systems can solve this challenge, moving on to the next phase of crafting better journeys is impossible. In the end, it is the combination of cost and complexity that slows most digital transformation efforts.

4. What are some of the challenges your team faces from a technology & integration perspective?

Because even industry-leading horizontal martech platforms don’t address the unique needs of healthcare marketers, our customers typically find themselves juggling a smattering of best-of-breed solutions. This adds a great deal of complexity in regards to integrating systems that need to work together, such as their CRM, CMS, and contact center. So right now, we’re seeing a trend with marketing leaders pruning their tech stack simply because the sheer number of solutions, integrations, and vendor relationships they are attempting to manage is too much. They often come to us looking for a healthcare-specific platform that unifies consumer data, channels, campaigns, site visitor information, and performance measurement into one integrated marketing toolset.

5. What is your take on the massive explosion of MarTech companies across so many categories? Do you feel spoilt for choice or is it just more of a chore to evaluate additional options?

It can be utterly overwhelming, especially if you are a company trying to discover the proper martech for a niche industry like healthcare. For instance, today’s healthcare organizations need CRMs to gather the right information to provide value and improve the healthcare consumer experience. But let’s face it, healthcare organizations face privacy, security, and data collection challenges unique to the industry that horizontal marketing technology doesn’t address.

Further, healthcare consumers are a much more dynamic audience with different needs than retail consumers. As such, a standalone, generic CRM doesn’t give providers the health-related information they need nor the analytics necessary to determine actionable insights. To truly make the most out of consumer engagement and bring value to both prospective and current patients alike, hospitals need a healthcare-specific CRM. However, all the industry-agnostic technology out on the market can make it hard for a healthcare marketer to find the right one.

6. What is the one area of investment you'd like to make in the immediate future from a marketing tech perspective?

At the end of the day, marketing is a people business. To influence people, we need to know them, as individuals, in more intimate ways than we ever have before. If a health system isn’t well down the path of implementing a healthcare-specific CRM with a modern architecture that can easily accept and share data in real-time, I’d list that as their number one priority. If that is behind them, then I’d look next to implement a contemporary content management system. One with all the front-end applications and secure form data handling that healthcare requires, but that also has a decoupled architecture that allows their content to be used across all sorts of emerging screens and devices. There are only a couple of solutions like this on the market for healthcare – most CMS’ in use today will need to be upgraded if organizations want to think about digital experience beyond just a website.

7. Build your own stack or buy into a pre-built martech cloud - what team are you on?

I’m all about the all-in-one solution. A study from Signal found that the average company has 17 marketing technologies in use – 17!! It’s unlikely that all of these different technologies are able to speak to each other in a way that provides a complete holistic view of marketing efforts. And let’s face it, with the amount of critical, care-related tech that healthcare IT departments have to manage, the marketing department is often last on the list of priorities. A proper pre-built stack, on the other hand, should be able to provide the depth and breadth of solutions that marketers need all in one convenient source. To me though, while technology is important, the people behind the technology and beside the users of the technology make the biggest difference and should definitely play a role in any company’s martech investment decision.

8. Could you share for our readers, an infographic, list or description depicting your marketing stack (various marketing software products or platforms your team uses or subscribes to)?

Absolutely. Our martech stack is comprised of both a horizontal customer relationship management solution and B2B marketing automation engine, augmented by our own robust multi-channel digital program management tool and decoupled content management system.

(Originally published on Martech Advisor.)