“Internet Marketing” is a term that usually draws a perched brow from healthcare marketers. Often times we get a confused look and an, “Internet what?”

Once the explanation is made and some semblance of an understanding is established there is a moment of realization that almost invariably sets in, precipitating the next question: “So how am I doing with that?”


Generally, the answer is “Ok,” but any marketing executive or manager who doesn’t know how well they’re doing in a certain channel is likely not doing as well as they could be.

These types of conversations happen daily in my world. Healthcare marketers and executives of all types want to know how powerful the internet can be to the core missions of their organizations and businesses. Yet, almost every commercialized healthcare organization operates an internet marketing campaign. It’s just that the power of the internet is only semi-realized because it is viewed as a “me-too” item that doesn’t translate into any actionable insight.

The best way to explain how I see this is through an experience I had recently that brought together a lot of what I’ve learned over the last decade of being connected to our healthcare system.

Early last month I was fortunate enough to have a chance to hear the CEO of a large integrated health system speak in an intimate setting and was fascinated by his perspective on developing an organizational culture that is completely intangible yet inextricably correlated to having positive, tangible performance metrics.  The philosophy is that by being connected to the front-line staff and engaging on a daily basis, an executive is able to not only cultivate a tone for the organization that fosters high performance, but gives the executive a lens for decision-making that cannot be found elsewhere.

This had me thinking a lot because I have found the same to be true in my own experience. When I was 25, I took a leap of faith from the world of Accounting and into Field Sales for Beckman Coulter in NYC. What an experience. I mean, I have always bitten off more than I could chew, but that was a big bite of the Apple (pun completely intended). Up to that point, I had actually been in the Accounting Department of the same company, sheltered from the hospital labs that relied on our instruments. So, it was amazing to actually see what our instruments did, how they changed the course of diagnosis and treatment, and how deeply imperative they were to the continuum of patient care.

From sitting on the bench with technologists to speaking with Lab Directors and Informatics Managers or getting approval from hospital administration (always an exercise in patience!), I got a lens to a world beyond what I could have ever imagined for that age. It changed the way that I see everything I do, and what everyone in healthcare does, by realizing how important listening to the people who directly interact with your products and services really is. The people who are on the front-line can tell you the lion share of what is what and if they are part of a healthy and communicative organization, their voice will make it all the way to the top of the organization.  Through these key individuals, you can get a view to the entire spectrum of decision makers in an organization.

We can create direct connections to the people that are actually looking for help and information at the exact moment they are looking.

This experience, and several others, are why I think what internet marketing does can be so powerful in healthcare. The people who really matter, who are on the front line, whether they are providers, patients, nurses, or technicians, are searching online more than ever before. We can create direct connections to the people that are actually looking for help and information at the exact moment they are looking.

Sometimes they know what they want, sometimes they need help figuring out what they need, but they are always the ones looking, and if you can get them to interact with you, you can glean insight that is hard to capture anywhere else. No focus group can tell you how someone is truly behaving when no one is observing them behind one-way glass. But the internet tells you that and a whole heap more. We’ve seen clients use data we present to help with corporate messaging, product launches, and even to give strategic guidance to product names.

More importantly, by listening to what is driving response and action, we can gain a better understanding of the human condition, how people really think and behave, and the best way to show them the value that each product in healthcare delivers—the ability to help them do their job of helping patients, like you, me, and our loved ones.

The internet is one of the best places to listen.

If you’re struggling, or just curious, to find ways to harness the power of the internet for your business, you may find some guidance from downloading our white paper here.

7 thoughts on “Internet Marketing: A Front-Line for Healthcare

  1. Keith Lovgren

    Great post, Bentley.

    With health care there’s so much more at stake for a website visitor in that moment than if they are shopping for a handbag or a set of Golf Clubs. I think you hit the nail on the head when you mention in the post that it starts with listening to the website visitor. Only then can dramatic change happen for Healthcare companies and the people they strive to help..

    1. Bentley Adams Post author

      For sure Keith! The listening is the most important part and the subject matter is way more critical, the internet is just the most accessible point and is on 24/7/365. So it’s not only the most accessible place to listen and gather information, it’s the most abundant place too.

  2. Stephen Peron

    Solid post – I would add that the internet is a great place for healthcare brands to introduce themselves to potential first time customers. Many times people start with “Research / Information Searches ” before they actually know what they need to be really searching for “Transactional Searches”. Example: If I had an issue with my elbow I might search “Pain in my elbow after playing sports”. After a few searches I might see that I really need to be searching “Tennis Elbow Treatments”.

    It is critical for healthcare brands to establish a solid on page content marketing strategy so they can rank for these “Research / Information” & “Transactional” keywords. This will ensure that their brand appears throughout the whole consumer funnel.

    1. Bentley Adams Post author

      Great point, Steve! Was actually listening in to a webinar the other day and the speaker mentioned how an interesting paradigm shift that validates your point further. He was saying that if you go back 30-40 years, a patient or consumer would engage with a representative of a company or organization first, with about 90% of their information gathering happening from that representative and only 10% happening from independent gathering.

      However, with the plethora of information and the accessibility of the internet, that ratio has entirely flipped, and now patients and consumers are learning about 90% of the information they get before making a decision prior to engaging with the company. Getting those introductions to new patients has never been more important, and people are going online more than ever before!

  3. Cameron Davis

    Your looking at this from a healthcare lens is a really interesting perspective. But you make a really good universal point with your example question, “How am I doing with that?” I would argue that if someone is asking that question, “…not as well as they could be…” is a vast understatement. To me, that would indicate an unfortunate lack of understanding of what the various online marketing channels are – and clearly, how their company resonates in those areas.
    Really good post to get the mental wheels turning!

    1. Bentley Adams Post author

      Definitely understand that perspective Cameron and it is simply a matter of where on the spectrum of knowledge a person is. Sometimes they could use a dose of education, maybe they’ve been told/taught the wrong things, or any number of other reasons why a transparent understanding of why the internet has eluded them. Either way, it’s our job to make sure they DO understand correctly and make the right decisions accordingly!


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