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RED HOT Contributors


Episode 50 – A Master Class in Provider Marketing


As healthcare consumers are increasingly using greater levels of online information to level the playing field in their knowledge and capture of transparency, the smartest leaders are recognizing an opportunity. To build a “digital front door” to not only differentiate themselves in a new world of competition for patients, but to build brand loyalty over the long term.

The famed Cleveland Clinic has moved much of its branding work from traditional marketing and advertising, and into the digital realm. They’ve created a premier marketing data warehouse, digital platform, significant social presence, and highly integrated website.

In this episode of RED HOT HEALTHCARE, Dr. Steve Ambrose get in-depth on the next era of content development and personalized marketing with Paul Matsen, chief marketing officer of the $8 billion healthcare system.

Matsen joined Cleveland Clinic in 2006. He is responsible for all marketing and communications programs at Cleveland Clinic including global development of the brand; marketing of key clinical lines of service; regional and international locations; and digital marketing. He also leads Cleveland Clinic’s Corporate Communications department.

This is one heck of a podcast – and below is a snippet preview of what you will listen to, on your next walk or ride. For healthcare providers, including hospitals and health systems, you will hopefully pull out some great nuggets of perception, strategy, and proven value.

In this episode, Dr. Steve and Paul Matsen discuss:

  • Meeting healthcare consumers through a unique blend of created content, scalability, and social media
  • The success of Cleveland’s Health Affairs Blog – at 4.5 million visits per month
  • The power of transparency in knowing more about doctors, costs, and personalized journeys.
  • Why it’s so important to create, grow and unify brand
  • Psychology used to attract and drive specific consumer behaviors

Here’s a small snippet of transcription from the show interview —(Click THIS LINK to hear the full audio interview):

STEVE: “I’ve read about your mindset on personalized digital engagement. Where you meet consumers and patients at THEIR needs…which so many hospitals and health systems haven’t moved into yet.

They haven’t really transitioned into that proactive “Let’s go find them…let’s go target them…let’s get them engaged…and let’s WIN their loyalty.”

You’re strong on building and distributing a lot of content online. Your blog HEALTH ESSENTIALS has 4.5 million visitors per month – the #1 healthcare blog in the world. You have 2 million Facebook likes and 1.3 million Twitter followers.

Tell us a little about how you’ve scaled up your content operation. I know you started off with just a few people – but that’s developed into a bit of a small army now, right?

PAUL MATSEN: “Well we’ve done a number of things, and I would stress to anyone who’s thinking about their social media or content strategy to realize it’s a journey.

You’re not going to start with a fully developed, perfectly executed strategy. But social media and digital platforms allow you to rapidly iterate; and we call it TEST and INVEST.

When we started our social media in 2009, we had to learn. We had to talk to our consumer base and understand what content they wanted from us. What they wanted to engage with; and over time we learned that what they wanted, particularly with our social platforms and HEALTH ESSENTIALS, was daily health and wellness…and innovation content.

They weren’t treatment seekers.

We could create that content for them, and over time it’s evolved to include a great deal of infographics, videos, etc.

So I have a passionate belief that all marketers HAVE to be digital. While we have a web team and social team, I want everyone on my team to have a digital mindset and skill set. And so we actually combined our traditional creative services team of writers and designers…with our digital team.

And that just produced and unlocked incredible talent…and produced catalytic results for us.

The other thing we did was that we invested in scale. I’m not at all shy to say, ‘It’s social media folks!’

It’s a media platform, and we are a digital publisher. We aggressively pursued followers with paid tactics – because who can afford a content team producing daily social content if you have only 10,000 followers as a health system?

So we went for scale…and it’s really paid off.”


 I have had the privilege and pleasure of working with Steve Ambrose on a podcast that covered a range of topics in healthcare information technology. The podcast logistics – communications, interview questions, scheduling and production – were every well managed.
A great experience that I would do again in an instance.

Dr. John Glaser
SVP, Population Health at CERNER

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