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Healthcare’s Widening Credibility Gap

Looking back on HIMSS 2018, there was a lot to be excited about and a lot to think about.  One thing that really struck me was the growing credibility gap in HIT.  Maybe it’s a sign of the times, what with “fake news” being thrown around all the time, but skepticism does seem to be increasing in our little corner of the world as well.


Aria met with a ton of journalists at the show, and several were asking every person they interviewed a variation on the question: “What buzzword do you think is most overhyped at this show?”  Popular answers included AI, Blockchain and Population Health.


The question itself and its prevalence are indicators of the increased level of incredulity among media.  Not that it is an unwarranted sentiment: most of us have been around long enough to remember a parade of hot concepts being plastered all over every booth at HIMSS.  I recall a year when about 95% of exhibitors – notably including a provider of nursing scrubs – touted their strong support for meaningful use.  Buzzword compliance is nothing new, but when it comes to things like AI and Blockchain, the question is not just whether or not a vendor really has a relevant value prop, it’s whether the tech itself really exists yet.  We are all familiar with the hype-cycle and the phenomenon of perception getting out ahead of reality, but it did seem to be particularly intense to me this year.


The skepticism also extended to specific vendors and individuals.  I had several conversations which included speculation about IBM Watson and how to separate the hype from the reality in their ongoing talk of big-data / AI-driven population health, personalized medicine and much more.  I think it is also safe to say that many at HIMSS found the assertions by Seema Verna and Jared Kushner that the current administration would solve healthcare’s interoperability problems with the push of a blue button to be somewhat lacking in the reality-check department.


The bright side of all this cynicism I think, is the opportunity it presents us as marketers to go counter-to-trend and emphasize credibility.  If the healthcare market is hungry for leaders and ideas they can believe in and trust, then the advantage will be for companies that mean what they say and say what they mean.  Perhaps the winning strategies for 2018 and beyond will be those based on super-credible, verified, data-supported marketing programs that build brand trust and credibility.  I’m certainly going to try to make that a major theme in my work this year.


See you in NOLA!


About the Author


Scott Collins, President, Aria Marketing


Back in the dimly-remembered days of fax machines and sneaker nets, Scott got his start at one of the world’s leading high-tech PR firms, working with global technology leaders, market-disrupting start-ups and everything in between. In addition to his decade of increasingly senior agency roles, Scott also devoted several years to learning how the other half lives, working on the corporate side as PR manager for a leading networking technology firm and as VP of marketing at two early-stage high-tech companies. Scott joined the Aria team in 2003 to help lead a then fledgling PR practice, and realized he had found his home in healthcare. Over the years Scott helped transform the agency into the healthcare thought leadership PR and marketing leader it is today, and in early 2014 he acquired Aria and took over the reins of the agency.


After more than two and a half decades in healthcare and technology marketing, Scott has learned a lot about PR, marketing strategy, positioning and thought leadership, and he brings that experience to his work mentoring the Aria team, leading positioning workshops, writing articles and working closely with clients on strategic plans and day-to-day issues.  As he learns the ropes of agency leadership, he is trying very hard not to break his first company.