I have imposter syndrome. Marketing is what I’ve lived and breathed for almost two decades. I feel comfortable in a marketing environment. Hi, HITMC friends! But put me in a room with hospital CIOs or CFOs and I instantly feel out of place.

But there’s hope! After working the last 15 years in health information management (HIM) and health information technology (HIT) and attending conferences at regional, state and national levels, I’ve learned a lesson or two.

From a marketing perspective, a big lesson learned is that there’s much to discover at health IT conferences—beyond helping your sales team with pre-show promotions, marketing messages, collaterals and banners.

I recently attended the Florida Health IT Summit in Tampa. As a self-proclaimed imposter in health IT, I think marketing professionals should attend health IT industry conferences like this one. Here are five reasons why:

  1. You get to hear real-life challenges from your target audience.

Mayo Clinic speakers Kaley Johnson, principal business analyst, and Olivia Peavler, health system engineer, presented their case for how to Design a Model for the Delivery of Digital Health Guidance. As they walked attendees through the journey to build interactive care plans, I gleaned marketing insights specific to their project challenges and lessons learned. They encouraged everyone to be iterative in their rollout plan and to get clinical practice consensus, and emphasized that all hands on deck did not work.

Their presentation included titles and departments they work with the most, which is crucial in defining key stakeholders and roles for marketing strategy. The presenters also suggested using a playbook—a good idea for educational content that should include personalization, customizable sections, room for feedback, etc. If Kaley and Olivia were your target audience, their educational session painted a picture of their pain points and challenges.

  1. Ideas for your own company presentations abound.

Jack Chin, a subject matter expert for IBM, went rogue from traditional healthcare PowerPoint presentations loaded with bullets. He did not read from his slides. He told stories! Granted, he got a bit off track and ran overtime, which I don’t recommend. But he kept everyone engaged—a great marketing takeaway for anyone tasked with creating PPT slides for your SME or sales team. Fewer bullets, more stories.

Paula Cobb, head of strategic marketing, healthcare innovation, Phillips Healthcare, took a similar approach with clean slides and powerful videos. Not all health IT marketing budgets can be as flashy as Paula’s but the videos she shared (like this one) were well done and pulled at the heartstrings. And I remember them! That is the golden ticket in marketing.

  1. Experts offer a wealth of industry research.

Mark Hagland, editor-in-chief, Healthcare Innovation, moderated a panel of guests who shared tips and ideas for getting their teams to better understand the impact of breaches. I think panels are a great format since a group of four to five people typically offer less scripted information than you receive in a traditional presentation format. These panelists provided a short list of free or inexpensive resources, perfect for marketers to better understand customers’ pain points. In this case the resources were intended to help provider organizations gather statistics and research to improve their identity and access management programs. The data in these resources can certainly be used for industry research, to support marketing campaigns, or both.

  1. Free and friendly customer research is sitting right beside you.

I had the opportunity to sit beside a systems analyst for Baycare. We became fast friends after realizing we’d attended the same high school. She told me all about her challenges and trends with their organization’s chargemaster, a topic of interest for one of my clients. I also learned about regional news that was concerning to Florida hospitals and healthcare systems. Just having an informal, friendly conversation with someone who represents your target audience is sometimes worth the registration fee. Attendees are much more forthcoming while sharing lunch with you than if you were sitting behind an exhibit table.

  1. Inspirational speakers remind us of why we’re in the business of healthcare.

Working on the technical side of healthcare can feel far removed from actual patient care. Hearing a presentation from the director of CESC, a nonprofit that helps the homeless, was so inspiring. She spoke alongside the service-line administrator for population health and telemedicine for Tallahassee Memorial Hospital. They shared their journey to reduce ED visits among the homeless population. Their grit and determination resulted in a significantly healthier homeless population and considerable cost savings for Tallahassee Memorial’s ED. The data can’t be summed up here but I will tell you that it made me smile. And it made me happy to be a marketer in health IT.

I hope you found some compelling reasons to attend a health IT event in your area. If you have other examples or additional thoughts you’d like to share, let’s continue the conversation. Send me a message on LinkedIn or Twitter.

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