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Core Exchange: Welcoming Senior Healthcare Strategist, Laila Waggoner to Core Health

Broad experience in healthcare marketing helps set Core apart in ensuring clients’ success

In this episode of the Core Exchange, Angi Krueger, Core Health’s Vice President of Marketing, introduces Laila Waggoner, our new Senior Healthcare Strategist. Joining the Core team in March 2021, Laila brings more than 30 years of experience and a highly valued depth of knowledge about the healthcare industry. Angi and Laila discuss what makes this specialized experience so important, and how working with different health systems and specialized health segments enables Core to better understand challenges — and identify new opportunities — for the healthcare clients Core serves, particularly amid the rapidly changing landscape of the pandemic.

  • Core Exchange | Laila-Introduction

You can listen to the podcast episode using the player embedded below, or you can read a full transcript below. Be sure to subscribe to Core Exchange on Apple Podcasts.

Episode Transcript:

Angi Krueger: Welcome to the Core Exchange, a healthcare marketing podcast. I'm Angi Krueger, the vice president of marketing at Core Health, which is Core Creative's specialized healthcare marketing practice. This week, I'm so excited to welcome Laila Waggoner, our newest team member at Core Health. Welcome, Laila.

Laila Waggoner: Thanks, Angi. I'm thrilled to be here.


Angi Krueger: I'm so excited because, with Core Health, our expertise in healthcare marketing is so important to us. It's always been really important for us as an agency to have someone like you with your healthcare expertise and background be part of our team. So I would love to introduce you to everyone by having you explain to them a little bit about your background and your career path, and where you came from.

Laila Waggoner: That's fantastic. Well, I am so excited to be part of the Core Health team after more than 30 years in healthcare marketing. That experience really spans a lot of different agency experience, my very first agency job, I walked in and the very first client I was assigned to was a little community hospital called Park View Hospital, which doesn't even exist anymore. But really early in my career, I had the opportunity to really start to learn all the nuances of healthcare marketing.

Laila Waggoner: That really developed over the course of several different agency experiences and with increasing responsibility, from an account-service perspective to a media-buying perspective, to a PR perspective. Then ultimately, I was a partner and chief strategy officer at an agency for almost 16 years, where I really had the opportunity to dive in and understand our clients' businesses. That really got deep with our healthcare clients in particular.

Laila Waggoner: Then, after all those years on the agency side, I was really excited to have the opportunity then to take that knowledge and take that experience and bring it to the client side. And to have an opportunity to sit in that seat and really experience from the inside of an organization, how and where marketing really fits in the bigger puzzle of what healthcare organizations are trying to accomplish.

Laila Waggoner: Having had all of that experience over the past 30 years, as I said, when this opportunity to join Core Health emerged, I was just thrilled at the idea of being able to bring all of that variety of experience and perspectives, and bring them to a team that is extremely well versed in healthcare marketing already. That is extremely well positioned in this industry, and has done some just phenomenal creative work. So being able to connect prospects with the kind of agency resources that Core Health provides, but also being a resource internally to our team now, as well as to our clients, it feels like a perfect fit for me. And so, again, I'm just really, really happy to be part of this team.

Angi Krueger: Yeah, thanks. I mean, it really was a perfect fit for us too. I mean, for those of you out there that maybe aren't on the agency side, we put a real emphasis and focus on finding Laila for our firm. We even used a recruiting firm, and we don't do that all the time. That was quite the process. We kept telling the recruiting firm, "We're kind of looking for a unicorn. You need to help us find this unicorn." Because we wanted to find Laila, which is exactly what we wanted to find.

Angi Krueger: But we needed to find someone with a lot of healthcare experience and has been on that side of the desk to really truly understand, empathize, and had been part of a healthcare organization to help us better serve our clients at the end of the day. So finding that mix. There's plenty of people out there, but the breadth and depth of your experience being both on the agency side and on the provider side, and even within other healthcare industries, and other industries even that aren't healthcare-related, it was just really, really important to us. So we're so glad we found you.

Laila Waggoner: Yeah. Yeah. I've been called a lot of things before, Angi. But I don't know about a unicorn.

Angi Krueger: Not a unicorn?

Laila Waggoner: A unicorn. But I like it. I think I know what my halloween costume's going to be this year.

Angi Krueger: Exactly. We found our unicorn. You have such an extensive background in healthcare, and when we say healthcare marketing, we're not just talking about hospitals and health systems. However, that's where your depth really resides. Can you tell us a little bit about, within healthcare marketing, some of the different segments you've been involved with and the experiences you've had over the past 30-some years?

Laila Waggoner: Well, how long do we have, Angi?

Angi Krueger: Well, maybe some highlights.

Laila Waggoner: Maybe some highlights. Yeah. It's really true, and I think this is interesting because both for clients who maybe do sit on the health system side, even if they sit within a system, if they're a hospital or an ambulatory surgery center, or some component within a larger system, there's still a lot of engagement with other healthcare-related entities. So whether they're part of an integrated system or whether there are strategic partnerships in place, having this breadth of experience has been really beneficial in thinking about the opportunities that our clients and our prospects are facing, and the challenges that they're dealing with. Everything from the big, urban teaching hospital, hundreds and hundreds of beds that sit in a city center, to the local community hospital in the suburbs, to the rural critical access hospitals that really face very different kinds of challenges.

Laila Waggoner: That's been a really interesting piece of the puzzle, including also academic medical centers, which have their own unique set of opportunities and positioning differences with other types of medical institutions. Certainly, more and more care is being moved from the inpatient to the outpatient, so ambulatory care centers and ambulatory surgery centers. Physician group practices that are more and more employed, but certainly, there are very influential and significant specialty practice groups. And even, they're rare still, but the independent physician is still out there. And having that understanding of how those different providers now are interacting with health systems is really important. Then, of course, you have the whole senior care perspective, long-term care facilities, skilled nursing facilities, hospices that now are both independent, as well as part of systems, and it's becoming more and more of a important perspective.

Laila Waggoner: So really, everything from that super regional integrated healthcare system with a clinically integrated network, that's really engaged in being an accountable care organization, and population health challenges, to that independent community hospital that is really just now trying to figure out where it fits in the care delivery system. Yeah. In addition to that, having dealt also with regional and national managed care organizations and thinking about how they are working both together with their systems, but now interestingly, starting to compete in some cases. Where they're having their own network of physicians for virtual care, that kind of thing.

Laila Waggoner: This is the thing that I've always loved about healthcare marketing. It isn't boring. It is always challenging. It's always changing, and it's very complex. While there is a significant B2C component, there's also a significant B2B part of this process. Really having this depth of understanding at the agency side, that's another thing that I loved about Core Health is, at first I thought, "Would I really want to work with an organization that's just purely healthcare?" But I actually believe that my breadth of experience in other industries and Core Creative's other experience benefits our healthcare clients. Because we can look at industries outside of healthcare and see parallels or see best practices that might be able to be applied and really be innovative in the way that we think about helping to solve our clients' challenges.

Angi Krueger: Yeah, for sure. That is one strength we do have, even though our focus and our depth really does lie in that healthcare marketing space. However, we do have a lot of clients on the core creative side that are not in healthcare at all. It actually works both ways too, right? I mean, we actually learned some different nuances from the healthcare industry that can carry over as well. So yeah, no, that's great.

Angi Krueger: You mentioned one key thing there about really helping make a difference and helping with metrics, and helping prove business results. Sometimes within healthcare, that can be a little more challenging. When we work with B2B or B2C clients, a lot of times you can directly correlate, for example, a click through with a sale if it's online or whatever it is.

Angi Krueger: In healthcare sometimes, patient acquisition can be measured and come in from multiple angles, and that's a huge challenge for a lot of healthcare organizations, is just patient acquisition in general or anything in that realm of patient retention too.

Angi Krueger: What have been some of the biggest things you've seen or how your experience might be able to help with really trying to make sure we're making business impact for any healthcare client we work with? Not just, and I love the fact that we do have breakthrough creative, great creative at our agency, but something that's really important is getting those results. And I think having you on board is really making sure we're keeping that lens focus that we do that.

Angi Krueger: Can you just talk a little bit about some of your experience on the healthcare side, provider side, and how that might relate to what we're trying to do in helping our clients add value?

Laila Waggoner: Yeah. Absolutely, Angi, I think this is an undervalued and under-recognized opportunity for healthcare marketers to really demand this understanding from their agencies. It's difficult. I will tell you that all those years that I had on the agency side, I had 30 years of experience. I was really engaged with our clients. We believed we were trusted partners, and that's all true, but you never quite understand the dynamics of how business decisions are being made and the drivers until you've really sat in that client's seat.

Laila Waggoner: I don't really know how else to explain that other than, you begin to see from the inside the many different ways that a marketing initiative can be championed, or can be potentially thwarted. Not from a negative motivation perspective, but simply because certain aspects weren't really thought through in terms of how to really connect with all of the different audiences.

Laila Waggoner: I think that having an understanding first and foremost of our clients' business goals, of their strategic imperatives, what are the various things that the C-suite is really focused on? Are they thinking about different initiatives that marketing ... And how can marketing support that? So it's really understanding the role that marketing can play, not just in developing, like you said, breakthrough creative, but breakthrough creative that helps achieve specific results.

Laila Waggoner: So that alignment between strategic goals, business imperatives, the role that that institution is playing in the community, all of that can play into, and should be part of the consideration as agencies are developing their creative approaches so that yes, the creative breaks through, but it also helps to achieve the goals. And it has the kind of legs, if you will. It can carry you places. It can take you places and be extended to service line campaigns. The overall brand perspective. Getting the C-suite and leadership beyond the C-suite, and that's a really important layer, to understand why that's important to the organization. How it connects to them achieving their strategic goals is a real unique opportunity for marketers to play a more strategic role and have a more strategic seat, if you will, at the table.

Angi Krueger: That's great. That's, obviously, what we're striving to achieve day in and day out when we're working with our clients. So having you on board to help give us that perspective and that insight is going to be very valuable moving forward, which is great. So let's just-

Laila Waggoner: Yes. And it's going to be fun.

Angi Krueger: Yes, it will be.

Laila Waggoner: It already is a lot of fun. I'm really enjoying working with the team. The other thing that I'm really excited about with Core Health is our say-it-live-it philosophy, and how important that can be in helping our clients to effectively make brand a strategic imperative. Right? So it's not just-

Angi Krueger: Right.

Laila Waggoner: ... about again, that creative ad campaign, and I'm using air quotes. Our listeners can't see it, but I'm using those air quotes about the ad campaign. But that's definitely a visible component of it, but that opportunity to work with our clients to really think not just about how we will say it externally, but how we will work together with our clients to really lay out a good plan for how their teams can live it and really be that personal embodiment of the brand, and deliver on the promise that is being put out there by the marketing efforts, it really can make a huge difference. Not just in the effectiveness of the marketing efforts, where patients hear one thing and then experience it to really reinforce that brand perception, but also, really importantly, especially right now for healthcare organizations, as an employer brand, right? As a means ...

Laila Waggoner: ... of really showing their commitment to their employees, their existing employees, and in the recruitment and talent acquisition efforts, to really have that powerful strength of purpose and a way of living beyond just what they're doing in the marketing campaigns. That's exciting to me as well, because I think it's a great value that our clients experience when they work with us.

Angi Krueger: For sure. It's really going back to the why of our business too, right? I mean, at the end of the day, we want to help people live healthier, more purposeful lives. That's where Say It, Live It aligns with that mantra that we all come to work every day for. Right?

Laila Waggoner: That is exactly right. That's exactly right.

Angi Krueger: That is exciting.

Laila Waggoner: At this point in my career, that was important to me too, frankly. To join an organization that did have at its core, no pun intended-

Angi Krueger: No pun intended.

Laila Waggoner: No pun intended, but it has a purpose. A purpose that I can really feel good about, and that our clients I think can feel good about because it aligns so well with typically their purpose as well.

Angi Krueger: Right. Well, let's get to some exciting stuff. For everyone's knowledge, you're going to start hearing a lot more from Laila because she's going to be helping lead these podcasts moving forward, as well as providing a lot of thought leadership. We try to provide a lot of thought leadership for our clients and prospects alike, and one of the main areas of focus this past year was to do some proprietary research. Our director of insights, Sue Spaight led the charge behind this. Initially, we conducted some research over the past few months about parents in the pandemic.

Laila Waggoner: I'm really excited about the parents and the pandemic research that our colleague Sue Spaight has led, and actually, already have put out a couple of little pieces of information about it. But really diving in deep to analyze. We surveyed nearly 2,000 parents, which is a really big sample size, and great because then we can really do some slicing and dicing, and deep analysis of the data to gather insights. What we're finding is some not surprising results at all, in terms of how the pandemic has affected parents' state of mind.

Laila Waggoner: There's some really interesting though, implications, I would say of that data. And so, thinking about not just what is concerning parents, but how can healthcare marketers use that information to then really frame their messaging in a way that recognizes these concerns and creates really an empathetic tone so that first, parents need to feel heard before they're going to be able to listen to those messages? And so, I think we have some really interesting perspectives on that that we'll be sharing.

Laila Waggoner: Another whole area, and again, nobody that is in pediatric care in particular needs us to tell them that the volumes for pediatric care have just really been impacted dramatically by the pandemic. There's been lots and lots of delay of care, but we have some interesting findings about why that is. What types of care parents are saying they will continue to delay knowing that I think might help our, again, healthcare marketing colleagues to think about how to reach out to those parents to bring those children back into the fold in terms of the care that they need.

Laila Waggoner: One of the biggest areas is definitely around mental, emotional, and behavioral health, and how the pandemic not just has impacted kids. Again, there's been plenty written about that and plenty of data out there about how dramatic this really has been. Again, what we're trying to really look at is, what does the data tell us about how healthcare marketers and those for pediatric patients in particular can use this information to be really helpful to those parents? We have some ideas about that that we'll be sharing as well.

Laila Waggoner: Then finally, and this will be an interesting one, especially as the vaccination for kids in particular makes progress, but some findings around parents' perceptions about COVID testing and about vaccination in particular. That might be more relevant a little bit further down the road. We'll certainly bring that to bear, but we're really excited to dive into this. And we're excited to not just share the insights, but to bring in, hopefully on Core Exchange, we'll be having some guests from some of the provider perspective about how they're managing through the pandemic and hopefully, coming out of the pandemic, and what some of those issues are that they're really dealing with from a marketing perspective. And so, we'll be excited to host them, coming up here on some of these episodes.

Angi Krueger: That's great. I'm really excited to get their perspective as well, and excited to start to release some of this data to our audience. With that being said, we will be sharing some stuff either socially on LinkedIn, on Twitter, in tidbits. But we're also going to be sharing probably a series of articles as well on So if you haven't subscribed to our newsletter yet, feel free to stop by our site. Again, it's, to make sure you get all the latest and greatest on this research and everything else.

Laila Waggoner: Absolutely.

Angi Krueger: Again, thank you. Welcome, Laila. We're so excited to have you, and I'm so excited for you to get to meet other people in our audience outside of Core Health internally.

Laila Waggoner: Absolutely.

Angi Krueger: We look forward to ... and hopefully, seeing some people in person soon too. We've had some conversations about upcoming healthcare conferences coming up. Hoping to be in person for those.

Laila Waggoner: Definitely.

Angi Krueger: I don't know. What everyone's plans are there, but we hope to see more people out and about in the next few months. So it's very exciting. There's light at the end of the tunnel.

Laila Waggoner: That's right.

Angi Krueger: And we're excited to move forward here. All right. Well, thanks again, Laila. We will wrap things up, but stay tuned and you'll be hearing a lot more from Laila in the future.

Laila Waggoner: Thanks, Angi.

Angi Krueger: Have a good afternoon.

Laila Waggoner: You too.


Angi Krueger is the Vice President of Marketing at Core Health, Core Creative’s specialized healthcare marketing practice.

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