For the past 22 years healthcare leaders and digital marketers have gathered at the Healthcare Internet Conference (HCIC) to discuss trends, best practices, and learn from peers how to transform your marketing efforts for more engaged and loyal patients.

This year’s conference in Scottsdale, Arizona, November 5-7, is no exception. We’re particularly excited to see so many topics around using data to be a more effective marketer along with topics focused on what it means to put your patients and consumers first.

So, here’s our guide to which sessions can help you level up your healthcare marketing game at this year’s conference.

Become a More Data-Driven Marketer
Almost every presentation during HCIC deals with data, metrics, and insights in some way. A full 35 sessions focus on the topic and how data can help you on your website, on social, in search, and with proving the worth or ROI of your marketing.

In particular, make plans for these sessions:

  • Monday, 3:15-4:15: Are You Losing the Person Among the Page Views? How Human Insights Can Strengthen Your Digital Marketing Plan*
  • Monday, 4:30-5:30: Using a Consumer-Centric Strategy to Grow and Achieve ROI*
  • Tuesday, 10:15-11:15: The Paradoxes of Healthcare Provider Search: A Panel Discussion*
  • Tuesday, 10:15-11:15: Putting a Measurement on Success: The Evolution of Healthcare Marketing
  • Tuesday, 11:30-12:30: Realizing Consumer Journeys: A Panel on Digital Innovation*
  • Tuesday, 3:30-4:30: Making Your Social Media Metrics Actionable
  • Wednesday, 10:15-11:15: Voice Search: Preparing Your Healthcare Website for the Biggest Change in Search History**
  • Wednesday, 10:15-11:15: Blurred Lines: Marketing and Ethics in the Brave New World* ^

It’s exciting to see how many organizations are looking at their data to figure out what’s working and where there’s room for improvement, but the real benefit of the wealth of data available to us is its power to preemptively inform your strategy. The evolution of becoming a more data-driven marketer will require you to not just look at your data after the fact. You need to use predictive modeling, artificial intelligence, and deep learning to make your data actionable before you begin, to inform which campaigns to build, where your greatest opportunities for growth lie, and which segments of your population are most likely to respond to and benefit from your marketing. It’s great to understand your data, but to make a difference, you have to do something with it.

Consumer Centricity is the Goal
Even more sessions deal with how to create a better experience for your patients and prospective patients, 36 to be exact. Consumerism has become a driving force in healthcare, and understanding how to put consumer needs at the center of your strategy, to essentially let the consumer lead, is key to success today.

In particular, make plans for these sessions, along with the ones noted with a star above:

  • Tuesday, 1:45-2:45: How Your Hospital Website Can Behave Like a Consumer Retail Site
  • Tuesday, 3:30-4:30: The Agile Approach to Patient Journey Marketing
  • Wednesday, 11:30-12:30: Keys to Success in Mobile Search and Discovery

It’s no accident that so many of the sessions on using data also relate to creating a better consumer experience. Without the data to understand who your consumers are, what drives their behavior, and which tactics engage them effectively, you’re just wishing and hoping that your instincts can deliver ROI. Consumer preferences evolve, and technology evolves just as fast to help you meet those expectations (some would argue technology capabilities often create those expectations), so without the data from real-time analytics and downstream reporting, you won’t be equipped to shift with the market and meet consumer demand for things like personalized messages, content, and more.

Pulling It All Together
The agenda for HCIC 2018 includes many sessions on individual channels – how to rank better and reach more consumers on search, how to create a website that your audience loves, how to build a social media presence that matters, etc. And while all those channels are important, if you look at the data on the path consumers take to become patients of your organization, you’ll see that all these channels, and more, have to work in concert to be more effective. To that end, you’ll find more sessions than usual that deal with content and your strategy to leverage it for the consumer experience. Omnichannel marketing is more than another way to describe multi-channel marketing – it’s the ability to create content that meets the consumer and their needs wherever they are in a personally relevant way, even across channels we haven’t thought of yet.

A few more trends to note are the rise of the importance of voice search and voice technology. Optimizing your content for this kind of visibility is quickly becoming a major brand differentiator. Plus, the amount of data voice search can generate is miles beyond traditional search, which means voice data helps you learn even more about your consumers.

• **Wednesday’s session on voice search is a good resource.

With data sources and availability on the rise, the question of ethical use is bound to come up, especially in a field as concerned with privacy as healthcare is. Several sessions, including a keynote, discuss this concern for digital marketing, which affects everything from who and how you target for campaigns to how you protect, integrate, and use data.

• ^ Wednesday’s session on blurred lines is a good resource.

And a final shout-out goes to the session with the most provocative title:

• Wednesday, 11:30-12:30: Dump Your Digital Marketing Team

We’ve been saying for a long time that there’s no longer a separation between marketing and digital marketing.. It’s time to integrate your team and skills to reflect this paradigm.

Want to learn more about how to make your data actionable? Come see us at Booth #42!