Notes from #SHSMD2021

Highlights and reflections from this year’s SHSMD Connections conference

The in-person phase of #SHSMD2021 in San Antonio was a great opportunity to connect and reconnect with peers and colleagues from across the healthcare industry. There was no shortage of wisdom, experiences, perspectives and lessons learned being shared in workshops, sessions, conversations and exhibits.

A look back at some of our photos and tweets shared from @corehealth`_laila provides notes and snapshots of conference highlights:

Day 1:

Keynote speaker Derreck Kayongo shared his story and inspired us all, connecting the concept of DEI to the new perspectives needed to solve big problems in healthcare. After, we welcomed attendees at the Core Health booth and talked branding, internal and external marketing challenges, and signed folks up to learn more about the Core Health Top 5 landscape shifts, healthcare marketing trends and consumer insights important for 2022 planning and beyond.


  • Ready for the opening keynote session at #SHSMD2021 "Reimagining Diversity and Inclusion: A Pathway to Courageous Conversations" ... afterward, stop by booth 123 to visit #CoreHealth and talk #trends and #insights, and enter to win an Apple watch!
  • You could hear a pin drop as @DerreckKayongo tells the story of when he stopped trusting adults. #heartbreaking
  • “We lose two million kids a year due to poor hygiene. And you guys throw away soap.” @DerreckKayongo seized the opportunity to “see a problem and solve a problem.” #DEI feeds #innovation. #SHSMD2021
  • “Everybody’s got a ‘yuck factor’ in their work.” What’s yours? @DerreckKayongo #SHSMD2021
  • “If you don’t let people participate on your teams, you’ll never benefit from all they have to offer.”@DerreckKayongo #diversity #inclusion #DEI #SHSMD2021


Day 2:

Once again, an excellent keynote, this time presented by Dan Heath, helping healthcare administrators consider the importance of Upstream thinking. Healthcare marketing – like its clinical counterpart – is often characterized by “acute” responses, treating the symptoms rather than identifying and addressing root causes of issues related to brand and service line marketing challenges. Looking “upstream” and incorporating the idea that delivering a great customer experience by preventing dissatisfaction can potentially and radically change the calculus for healthcare providers.

Following the keynote address on Monday, the Core Health team introduced the following sessions:

  • They're Not Mutually Exclusive: How to Guide Consumers AND Grow Volume
  • How the Nation's Most Recognized Systems Spend Their Marketing Dollars...and Why It Matters to You
  • Marketing Leading Change Through Mobile Wayfinding Platforms
  • Reaching the Hispanic Community with Health Care Messaging
  • Humanizing Health Brands For a Post-COVID World
  • The Road to Becoming a Digital Marketing Leader Starts with Your Team

Lots of great discussions at our booth during the day, and then a fantastic opportunity to network with attendees before checking out the San Antonio River Walk.



  • #SHSMD2021 Monday morning Keynote: Upstream: The Quest to Solve Problems Before They Happen starting soon!
  • “Every system is perfectly designed to get the results it gets.” — Paul Batalden. Or, “what gets measured gets done.” So, whose job is it to make sure customers don’t need to call?” Patient experience/consumer experience is everyone’s job in #healthcare #SHSMD2021
  • Integrating a fragmented system … sounds like a good approach for #healthcare to adopt. Keynote at #SHSMD2021 shows that putting the person at the center can help solve the problem. “Macro starts with micro.”

Day 3:

The final day started early with exhibit hours and some more good conversations and introductions; a few more sessions introduced by the Core Health team in the marketing and digital engagement tracks, including:

  • Humanizing Social Media for Meaningful Connections that Matter
  • Winning on Loyalty with Hyper-Personal Care Orchestration
  • Managing the Dual Priorities of Driving System Volume and COVID-19 Communications Amid the Pandemic

And to close out a great conference, Scott Stratten, of Unmarketing fame, challenged us to think differently about what it means to engage … and reminded us there is no such thing as a neutral brand experience.


  • “We call it #innovation when it happens internally and #disruption when it happens externally.”
  • “Innovation comes from insubordination.” Healthcare can benefit from listening to different voices. @unmarketing at #SHSMD2021 #CoreHealth


All in all, a great return to in-person conferences; now we’re looking forward to HMPS, Oct. 6-8!


Laila Waggoner serves as Vice President, Strategic Partnerships for Core Health, Core Creative’s specialized healthcare marketing practice. Laila brings more than 30 years of experience working with regional health systems, community hospitals, academic medical centers, hospices, managed care organizations and B2B healthcare brands in markets across the country. She’s held in-house health system and agency leadership roles, and provides unique insight into how clients can best leverage the strategic branding, marketing and creative resources of an agency partner.

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