How do you learn as you grow into healthcare marketing?
This is part two of our conversation with a young professional learning what it takes to succeed in a career in healthcare marketing. Listen in for their perspective on the way things have always been and the ways younger people expect to find information and own their experiences with healthcare.
You can listen to the episode using the player embedded above, or you can read a full transcript below. Be sure to subscribe to Core Exchange on iTunes.
Stephanie: Welcome to The Core Exchange, a podcast for healthcare marketers produced by Core Health, a specialized marketing practice of Core Creative. My name is Stephanie Burton. I'm the director of healthcare marketing for Core Health. We are here picking up the conversation where we left off with Nate Hams, marketing specialist with a very large health system here in Milwaukee. So, healthcare marketing as a profession, what do you think? What do we have to learn? What advice do you give to healthcare marketers as someone who's a little bit younger in your career?
Nate Hams: Oh, that's a fantastic question. I would say, just because sometimes we tend to be behind the curve, if you're going into healthcare marketing, it's important that you ask questions. One, just to learn about the the healthcare landscape, just learning how to navigate it, like how operations functions. Because it's very important to understand how the workflow just passes through the organization. But also, learning to ask questions if something doesn't seem up to date or if something doesn't seem correct, because when you're in such a fast paced world like healthcare, sometimes people don't have time to ask questions or think outside of the box. And I feel like it's very important to think outside of the box, especially with how many great tools, digital tools, that we have now with marketing, because you can really improve the... I feel like it's super important to always think about the user experience with a patient.
Stephanie: Amen. Yes. Do you find that you're able to... Do people look at you and say, "Oh, there's that young kid who's poking holes in the stuff that we've always known and we've always done it this way? Who is he?" or do you find that there's good respect for the questions that you ask?
Nate Hams: I would say both. I would say both. There are often service lines, so your oncology, your cardiology service lines, and those leaders tend to really appreciate my perspective just because they're always looking for a new way to promote their providers. But yeah, I remember I was working with a few associates who always push back on [inaudible 00:02:09] you think a young gun coming in ruining-
Stephanie: You think you know everything.
Nate Hams: Yeah, yeah, exactly. And I never really tried to have that.
Stephanie: Of course. Of course.
Nate Hams: Never really tried to give off that impression, but I always just try thinking more efficiently, because I remember when I used to work in account management as well at an agency, and I was really forced to have to ask those questions because you have to really make sure that you're understanding what the client wants and what the client needs. Just out of habit.
Stephanie: Nothing wrong with asking questions. Yeah. How do you earn the respect of your peers? And then, many people you're working with have been with the organization for decades, how do you earn that respect?
Nate Hams: I feel like definitely with listening. People always appreciate being heard, and so I always try to listen through their perspective. Never want us to come off combative or disrespectful, and so I always try to listen through them and always try to propose any ideas that I have in a diplomatic sense. But I also always just appreciate being a team player. I definitely feel like, given the limited resources that we have, we have to stick together and make sure that we're all on the same page. Because if we're going different directions, it's ultimately just going to result in us working slower, and so learning how to appreciate everyone's perspective is always welcomed to the table.
Stephanie: Great, great. What do you think that you have been able to offer to your organization? This sounds like an interview, like a job interview, and that's not what I'm trying to do. But what do you feel like you've been able to offer to your organization a different perspective, either because of your background as a human being or your age or your career history that's a little bit different. What do you think?
Nate Hams: I always just try to bring a perspective of being a young individual who is still the... I'm still navigating the healthcare world, and when it comes to all my personal care. I remember one of my first months into the job, my former director came to me, he goes, "Nate, if you were going to find a primary care doctor, how would you go about that?" And I had no idea. I went on to Google and I was like, "Primary care provider," and I just searched that. But yeah, it's amazing because I feel like if you're young and you're not really familiar with how healthcare operates, it's really tough navigating. And typically, you start with your healthcare insurance and what's covered within that insurance and learning how to navigate it.
Nate Hams: So, yeah, I feel like I always just try to bring a new sense of a fresh perspective. But I also, I always just love trying to make really complicated things easy to understand or more streamlined. I feel like that's a word I use way too much in my day-to-day. But yeah, just making things more efficient.
Stephanie: What have you learned?
Nate Hams: Oh my gosh. I've learned a lot about healthcare strategy. I've really learned to appreciate the patient experience, like what a patient is looking for when they're trying to find their healthcare provider. I really feel like I learned a lot about just medical knowledge, medical terms, how the hospitals and the clinics operate. Because you really do have to have like an inch deep, mile wide. You have to learn how to operate in many different facets. And so, I've been very lucky to learn so many nuances of the healthcare industry because it's really a tricky road to navigate.
Stephanie: Yeah. Yeah. It is a tricky road. Yeah, for sure. Very funny story. I remember when I was starting out my career at a health system and I had heard lots of talk about the ambulatory clinics. I honest to goodness thought ambulatory had something to do with the ambulances.
Nate Hams: Oh, same. Yeah, yeah.
Stephanie: Yeah, yeah.
Nate Hams: I did until about like four or five months ago.
Stephanie: Yes. Hello? Health literacy, right? And we know stuff, right?
Nate Hams: Yeah, yeah.
Stephanie: So, it's interesting that you were in the same boat, too, but I often tell that story to people when we get so caught up in our own lingo that we realize that a word like ambulatory is, you've never heard it outside of ambulance. So, yeah, it would seem to make sense that that would be what it's related to.
Nate Hams: Exactly. On that note, for a while I was working on a project with patient education materials, and so just, historically speaking, every clinic and hospital has always had a brochure about, "What is a concussion? How do you treat it? Here are clinics that treat concussions." And I think one of the things we've tried to recommend to our clinics and our hospitals is that, rethinking like, "Do we really need booklets about concussions when we have literally websites on websites?"
Stephanie: Hey, the internet.
Nate Hams: The internet, that'll explain to you what a concussion is. And so, I remember we received a brochure to be updated for a douche nozzle, so we were like, "Oh, okay." And so, we go through all this effort to rebrand it, and then we finally find a subject matter expert to help out and they're like, "Why are you doing this? This is so irrelevant and so unnecessary." And so we're like, "Oh, okay, well I'm glad that we went through the effort to do that." So, now we're now we're more on the forefront of like, "Hey, do we really need to redo this collateral that is super unnecessary?"
Stephanie: Right, right. Just because we've had it doesn't mean that we need to have it. Now the words douche nozzle are going to be stuck in my head for the rest of the afternoon. Thank you.
Nate Hams: I think it was a nickname my brother had for me at some point.
Stephanie: Yeah. Yeah. Yeah. Good. What advice do you have for people your own age who are entering healthcare marketing?
Nate Hams: Healthcare marketing? I would say, just never lose sight of, at the end of the day, what the mission of the organization is. I think it's easy to get wrapped up in the day-to-day and get lost, whether it's in spreadsheets or conference calls and think like, "What am I doing?" And at the end of the day, get excited about the fact that you're part of a mission that's helping serve care to others, which is fantastic.
Nate Hams: But I also recommend just asking questions, just going in and just trying to educate yourself as much as possible. Be hungry to learn more about what the services are offered with the providers and really celebrate the positives, like the exciting stories of someone had a really amazing experience with a cardiothoracic surgeon and now they thank their life to this provider. And so, being able to just always keep that positive perspective because there's going to be days where, man, you're going be stressed and you're going to be thinking, "Well, what the heck am I doing here?" So, just never really losing sight of that.
Stephanie: Do you have a story or a patient or an interaction that you think of from your organization that you go to when you're thinking, "That's what it's all about. I'm having a tough few days, but that's what it is"?
Nate Hams: So, I reached out to a bunch of our patients who were recipients of a joint replacement, and so I had to do the initial calls to see if they'd be interested in sharing their story with our videography team. And it was just so awesome to hear the positive reactions of like, "Oh, I love Dr. So-and-so. I would not be able to lift my grandkids if it wasn't for them. They replaced my shoulders, and now I can actually enjoy my life." And it was really beautiful to hear that, just to see how appreciative and grateful these patients were. It was really moving because before then, I don't think I'd ever actually had a genuine patient interaction, and so that was incredibly refreshing to hear their take on that.
Stephanie: I think that's really important that you mentioned that, and for healthcare marketers who are listening who may be at a more senior level, providing some of our junior staff members the opportunity to have those direct patient interactions are absolutely priceless. Keeps you going.
Nate Hams: And I know what works for me maybe because I'm just a sucker for the heartfelt stuff, but I do really feel like, with my generation being very service oriented, I feel like we do really appreciate hearing those positive stories. I feel like it's an awesome thing to always see like, "Oh my gosh, so-and-so at Menomonee Falls had this amazing experience with our care provider and now they can enjoy their life like they should be doing." And so, yeah, I always appreciate the heartwarming stories.
Stephanie: Yeah. Great. So, what's next for you? Career goals, take over the world? What's-
Nate Hams: Take over the world. Yeah, that's nice.
Stephanie: Yeah, yeah.
Nate Hams: Yeah, no, I'm looking forward to keep navigating the healthcare field. I definitely just want to keep making a positive impact wherever I go and making sure that I can keep making those complex things more and more simple and understandable. Because I feel like, at the end of the day, healthcare's making a really positive impact on people's lives, and if I could somehow be a part of better communicating that so more people can be cared for, then yeah, I'm all for it.
Stephanie: Awesome. I love it, and that's really what we're all here to do, ultimately. Thanks so much for joining us, Nate. I want to wrap this up by asking you to describe your experience in healthcare in one word.
Nate Hams: Oh, wow. That is a fantastic question. I think I'm going to have to go with the word illuminating, and I will probably change my mind in like five minutes, but illuminating, just the fact that I feel like it's been very educational for me. I've taken a lot of insight from the experience, and I feel like it's really helped give me the foundation for me just to carry on with my marketing career.
Stephanie: I love that word. You think fast on your feet. Don't change your mind in five minutes. That was perfect.
Nate Hams: Yeah. Thank you.
Stephanie: Yeah. Thank you for joining us, as I said. And you can hear more podcasts from The Core Exchange at corecreative.health or by going to your iTunes store. Thanks for joining us on The Core Exchange.
Nate Hams: Thank you.