Social Media ROI in Healthcare – The Holy Grail

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By now you probably realize that a social media component is essential to your marketing effort. But before you simply “dive in,” you need a defined strategy and a means of measuring your ROI. An effective social campaign is not simply about communicating or getting your name out there (although that is a component). It’s about knowing who you want to reach, what you want to tell them and what you want them to do with that information. Then, just as importantly, it’s about tracking your effectiveness. Did you reach the right audience? Did they hear your message? Did they act on it?


Measuring social media ROI in healthcare is not always a straight line between marketing dollar spent and sale of service. It can often be tricky to track and quantify. But don’t let that stop you from trying! You must know if your strategic direction is actually working. You must assess (and continually re-assess!) which social platforms are working for you and what types of posts & ads are generate interest. You must differentiate between short-term returns (i.e. new patients) and long-term awareness (how many new people became aware of your organization, even if they are not immediately becoming a new customer).


You must know if the dollars you are committing to social are reaping a return. Data can answer some of those questions. But a complete picture of social media ROI requires more than a simple monthly click report. It takes an astute business mind, capable of sourcing and synthesizing multiple data sets. Most importantly, it requires a targeted strategy that evolves over time.


Stay tuned for my next post, in which I’ll share some specific do’s and don’ts that I’ve found effective.

Impact of Net Neutrality Repeal on Marketing

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In light of the repeal of Net Neutrality last week, I enjoyed reviewing this MarTech piece on the impact of the repeal of Net Neutrality on the field of digital marketing. Obviously, unlike TV advertising and billboards, both paid and organic marketing on the internet have provided organizations, big and small, the opportunity to use the power of their content to appeal to the specific markets of customers who need our services. That is to see, if we are skillful, those who need a specific product or service can use the internet to eventually find us. It has been gratifying in my work to meet patients who say, “As the result of a few searches, I was able to find your organization and get access to the care I needed,” and continuing with a sentiment like the following, “I would not be here today, and in good health, without the internet and the follow-up communications I received from you.”

As a result of the repeal, we may now be faced with new factors that impact our access to those interested in the topics and services we cover. How and when this impacts us is a work-in-progress, but marketers will be unpacking the issue, in the coming weeks and continuing our efforts to help match the resources with the customers who need them.



Breast Cancer Awareness Event at UCSF on 10-24-17

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You’re Invited!
Oct. 24 BRCA Breast Cancer Event with CME Credit

Considering BRCA Genes: Knowledge Improves Outcomes

Presented by UCSF Imaging and the UCSF Helen Diller Family Comprehensive Cancer Center
Tue, Oct. 24
6-8 p.m.
UCSF Mission Bay Campus, Byers Auditorium, Genentech Hall
600 16th St.
San Francisco, CA 94158
Parking at Community Center Garage at 1675 Owens St., UCSF Mission Bay Campus.
Reception with unique foods and live jazz following the panel discussion.
Link here to register.


We are honored to gather critical members of the team who are changing the BRCA landscape in the Bay Area and beyond. The public and health care professionals are  invited to learn more from our experts. A reception will follow the panel discussion. (Parking at Community Center Garage at 1675 Owens St., UCSF Mission Bay Campus)

We invite you to join UCSF’s global health experts Heather Greenwood, MD; Alan Ashworth, PhD, FRS; Pamela Munster, MD; and Mindy Goldman, MD; breast cancer survivor and patient advocate Laura Holmes Haddad, author of This is Cancer: Everything You Need to Know, From the Waiting Room to the Bedroom; as well as our MC for the evening, Larisa Kure, breast cancer survivor and associate dean of administration and finance of the School of Denstistry, for refreshments and conversation. Whether you know your BRCA status or need to learn more, this gathering will help you understand genetic risks and how they affect health outcomes.

Additionally, we are proud to offer another unique opportunity to our guests – quick tours of the Mammovan from ZSFG (Zuckerberg San Francisco General Hospital), which will be available that evening for a visit both before- and after the lecture (5-6:15 pm and 7:30-8 pm). Our guests will learn more about how the van is used to provide mammography screening to low-income communities in the area. It will be located near the Community Center Garage at 1675 Owens St. and tours will be run by Mary McGinty, supervisor of the Avon Breast Center at Zuckerberg San Francisco General Hospital.

CME credits will be available.



Digital Disruption: Lessons Learned

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PhotoHandler.ashxThank you to Bob Wachter, who opened a new season of Grand Rounds for the UCSF Department of Radiology and Biomedical Imaging. His talk was entitled, “How Technology is Changing the Practice of of Medicine: Lessons, From, and For, Radiology.”  

The lecture provided both personal and professional references that made it accessible to audiences with or without an IT background. It covered the advanced role of radiology in the digital transformation of health care, on the one hand. On the other, it addressed the fact that the health care industry is largely behind others when it comes to moving in a seamless manner from analogue to digital access to information.  

This prompted me to ask him about the lessons learned from industries outside health care, with two questions in particular: “In what industries did digital transformation happened more quickly?” And, “What are the takeaway lessons for the health care industry?”

His response surprised me with its sweeping boldness.  He cited the financial services industry, and said there is one thing that enabled the large-scale change in other industries: a total change in management.  There was a long pause. When I pressed on, asking if the health care industry needed to hire for other functions and training such as engineering, he said this was not necessarily the case, in his experience. Instead, those in the health care industry today need to deeply understand IT, and those in IT need to deeply understand health care.

For high-level recommendations regarding how to make this happen at a board level, reference this Russell Reynolds piece, citing the role of “digital NEDS” to help spearhead needed digital disruption.


New perspectives on Branding in the era of Social Media

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This is to share a thought-provoking piece on branding in the era of social media. Along with the reference to the observation that traditional branding models are failing as markets evolve, I appreciated the reference to the opportunities available in industries where customers are searching for alternatives, such as what we are experiencing today in health care.

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Beyond the opportunity in industries undergoing chance, one cannot ignore bread-and-butter marketing strategy as the impetus for all marketing activities. This articles makes the important point that the channel is the last consideration after clearly defining one’s business objectives. In my view, conversations on on either branding or social media must start with a thoughtful discussion of purpose. Why is this critical to this business? With a well-grounded marketing strategy that is tied to business objectives, the social media and the brand ID can be effective. Otherwise, efforts will prove wasteful in the long-term.

If I Understood You – Communications for Health Care Professionals

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We have an important new piece for health care professionals by Alan Alda, If I Understood You, Would I have this Look on My Face?

Alda covers his own experiences on the topic of communications for scientists – bridging improv and science to move toward a future of closing the gap between the patient and the provider and other critical stakeholders in the continuum of care.


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A Loving Day

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Many don’t realize that mixed race marriages were legalized across the US only 50 years ago today. On June 12, 1967 the ban on interracial marriages was struck down in 16 states, thanks to a brave couple in Virginia.


My kids were born only 30 years after this law was passed in the US. Thirty years is not a long time. When I moved to Japan at the age of 13, I met interracial kids for the first time. Of course, I didn’t think twice about it at that age and haven’t done so since.


Here in the US, however, even 50 years after this law was passed, I can see that some still do a double-take when they realize that my kids and I don’t appear to look the same, racially. Versus other countries where I have spent time (Singapore, Brazil, Sweden, etc), one can tell it is still relatively new and perhaps unusual to us in the US.


I was happy to realize, today, that this pioneering interracial couple was named “Loving.” Coincidentally, this summer, we are also celebrating the 50th anniversary of the Summer of Love here in San Francisco.


Here’s to a future where the word “love” comes to define how we look at racial differences and diversity of all kinds.

The Lovings changed US history in 1967

The Lovings changed US history in 1967

30 years later, kids like these were born legally in the US

30 years later, kids like these were born legally in the US






FTC Chairwoman’s Role

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Today, the Chairwoman of the FTC stepped down to allow the new administration to select their own representative. This piece provides insight in the role that the commission plays in ensuring a competitive and comsumer-friendly healthcare and tech industry.





Laura’s Journey: From Breast Cancer Diagnosis to Radiant Survival

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The blond woman in the flowing red dress who graces UCSF’s “Redefining Possible” billboards and ads in and around San Francisco – you’ve probably seen her, but you likely don’t know her story.


Last week, Laura Holmes Haddad visited the UCSF Imaging facility at 1725 Montgomery Street, and shared her journey from terrifying breast cancer diagnosis to three years of radiant survival. She also talked about how she wants to help others. 

“I never had a health issue before my diagnosis,” said Holmes Haddad. “And I was totally unprepared. I want others to be aware of the type of mindset and teamwork that helped save my life.”

Holmes Haddad realizes that her outcome was the result of a remarkable convergence of opportunities, effort, and will. In overcoming her illness, she worked with the world’s leading medical teams, and had the active care of family and friends who supported her and championed her well-being. Holmes Haddad also credits her own self-advocacy, not to overemphasize her perseverance, but to encourage other patients. 

She hopes to provide tools and perspective to patients who may face a cancer diagnosis in their lifetime. To that end, she has written a book, This is Cancer: Everything You Need to Know, From the Waiting Room to the Bedroom, which will be released on October 18. 

What’s critical: Take time for yourself – don’t delay!

Holmes Haddad was the mother of two young children, ages 14 months and 4 years old, when she was diagnosed with breast cancerand given three to five years to live. That was four years ago. 

When she first started noticing her body was changing, she chalked her breast discomfort up to lactation and the feeling of being unwell to the demands so many young mothers’ experiences. She had the lingering sense she should do something about not feeling well, but procrastinated, as she pointed out, “…like so many others!” The message she wants to spread now? “Do not put off your health. Take time to be screened and to see your doctor.”

Assemble a great team – and work hard to get the care you need

Self-advocacy and the support of a willing community were critical to Holmes Haddad’s success. After she was diagnosed, she set her sights on treatment at UCSF. “I wanted to ensure I had the brightest, most talented medical teamworking on my behalf.” When she let her circle of family and friends know that UCSF was her goal, they advocated to help her begin treatment. Later, when her UCSF oncologist informed her about the clinical trial that ultimately stopped her cancer, Holmes Haddad’s persistence was tested when she had to repeatedly apply before acceptance. “I was lucky to have a strong community, and to have lots of personal support so I could really take care of myself. But what about patients who don’t have that extra help? I’m hopeful the book can teach patients how to get the best care and treatment regardless of their circumstances.”

Life lessons 

Today, after having stared death in face, Holmes Haddad says she focuses on what is essential. How does she define that? She says, “Your kids are essential. Your family. Saying ‘no’ more often.” Then with a smile, she adds, “And saying ‘yes.’”

As a result, she says she is more fun as a parent and kinder to everyone she encounters. She is also more aware of the everyday struggles of chronically ill patients as well as their caregivers.


Holmes Haddad is deeply grateful to those who helped her and remembers the tender moments offered by her care team across UCSF. One was a UCSF Imaging tech, to whom she revealed her feelings of self-consciousness about how she looked after she lost her hair during chemotherapy. In his thick Irish accent he said, “Laura, they aren’t staring at you because your bald head makes you look funny, they are staring because they think you’re beautiful.” His profoundly kind words helped sustain her as she marched forward, not knowing her eventual positive outcome. 

And she had the opportunity in a private meeting to express her gratitude to Dr. Alan Ashworth, who leads the UCSF Helen Diller Family Comprehensive Cancer Center. Ashworth has spent most of his career focusing on the BRCA2 gene mutation of which Holmes Haddad is a carrier. “I shook his hand and I told him, ‘Thank you for saving my life,” she said, and there was not a dry eye in the room.

When we met Holmes Haddad in person, we experienced first-hand the power she has to make others feel great. Said one of our techs, “I just want to be around her.” She exudes values we all can aspire to–kindness, humility, generosity, being in the moment. 

In February, Vice President Joe Biden visited UCSF and met Holmes Haddad. “His kindness, intellect, and determination to eradicate cancer was a privilege to witness,” said Holmes Haddad. “And it was an honor to represent the patient voice to him and Dr. Jill Biden at UCSF.”

We are honored that she chose to say “yes” to an interview, and inspired by her example of saying “no” to things that do not make each day a richer one.


Airbnb’s approach to moving an organization toward a new future – a model for us all

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Airbnb is the story of hard work and a company that challenges itself on a day-to-day basis by stepping back to ask tough, new questions.


Last month, Airbnb announced the birth of new division, an innovation lab, called “Samara.” It was tasked with identifying business opportunities for the organization, one of which they have also just announced – a new hospitality concept in Japan. Thank you, Chip Conley, for encouraging me to follow the progress of this interesting new business by reading some of the interesting articles on the topic. 


Their discovery is ground-breaking on the one hand, because it is a concept that is new to both Japan and other countries. On the other hand, as one unpacks the discovery process, one realizes that the “ah ha” moment was the result of addressing an age-old business question, “What is a customer problem? How can we resolve it?”


Samara is hoping to tackle the issue of de-population among traditional Japanese villages by establishing cultural centers to attract international tourists. Can the model survive in Japan? If so, can it be translated to other countries?


Tracking their progress will provide an interesting way to observe how innovative industry leaders, such as Airbnb, among many others, continue to adapt to shifting industry dynamics and stay competitive.


…and even for those whose organizations who are not considered industry leaders, but who might look at themselves  more humbly as community leaders and use the Airbnb – Samara discipline of looking at their business in structurally new ways by asking, “What is the customer problem we can solve?”

Turning turn both Airbnb and architecture on its head in Japan

Turning turn both Airbnb and architecture on its head in Japan