Like a lot of you, we recently returned from HCIC in Las Vegas. As expected, we enjoyed listening in on sessions from dynamic speakers, talking to clients, and meeting new people. But now that we’ve recovered from jet lag just a bit and had some time to go through our notes and takeaways, we noticed something a little surprising.

Of course we appreciate the information we heard on:

But, and this is a big BUT: We’re a bit surprised by what we didn’t hear at HCIC.

In the digital era, you can’t afford to limit your thinking, or your planning, to what’s already working well in other industries today. You have to be constantly looking forward, anticipating the “next big thing” and making sure your tools, your team, and your processes are nimble and ready to adjust when it hits.

What are we interested in? What do we want to hear more about? Well, two things specifically.

1. The Internet of Things

AND

2. The Big Reverse

We’ll start with the Internet of Things, or IoT, since we’re all a little more familiar with it. Basically, now that just about anything can be wirelessly connected to the internet – your Samsung refrigerator, your washing machine through your Amazon Dash button, your car, your watch – the opportunities for real-time engagement, and connection, are nearly limitless.

IoT not only opens up new opportunities for healthcare marketers to engage their audience, but it also creates new opportunities for collecting data, both health-specific and personal/behavioral. What we will be able to do with that data is take personalized communications to the next level. In the not-so-distant future, first-generation CRM systems that collect data in batches on a monthly or bi-weekly basis will be obsolete, and we’ll be looking to find a next generation system that collects and leverages IoT device data in real-time, enabling our systems to trigger highly personalized, 1:1 messages to hundreds, or thousands, of consumers at scale.

The Big Reverse is related to the IoT, because with this proliferation of devices comes an expectation for receiving messages, knowledge not just at our fingertips but delivered to us, pushed to us, so we don’t have to go looking for the answers we need. We’re talking about a new web economy where websites fade into the background, and it’s already starting to happen.

Facebook, LinkedIn and Flipboard are early examples of push-based experiences.

  • Facebook "pushes" a stream of personalized information that tells a subscriber what is happening with their friends and family
  • LinkedIn does the same thing for people professionally – regarding the companies and thought leaders they want to follow
  • Flipboard changes how we consume content by aggregating the best of the web and filtering it based on our interests; it "pushes" the relevant and interesting content to us rather than us having to "pull" the news from multiple sources

Consider the rise of notification-centric experiences; your smartphone's notification center provides you with a stream of relevant information that is pushed to you – local weather, traffic conditions, travel time, and alerts. More recently, these notifications have become interactive; you can check in for a flight without having to open your travel app. You can buy a product without having to visit the retailer’s website.

In almost every case, "Show me what I want" is more useful than "Let me search around and see what I can find." Marketers may not like the idea at first, but push will win over pull. What people really want is anything that saves them time and effort, and in the long run, an improved user experience always wins.

We’re not implying that great websites aren’t still important. They most certainly are! However, anyone implementing a new content management system in 2017 should understand that it is your CONTENT, not your site, that is your most valuable marketing asset, and therefore choose a solution that has been architected to allow content to be published on emerging devices and channels, not just the web.

We like knowing where we are and what current challenges we face and what progress we’re making. But we mustn’t be content to stop there. We have to look forward. To anticipate. To prepare. We’re ready to shake things up for better healthcare overall.