Eric Steinberger talks about how his marketing experience in other industries will help him in his new role, what strategic marketing initiatives he’ll be leading in his first year, and how healthcare marketing is both similar and different from other industries.
Marketing to connect with consumers and meet their needs transcends industries, and lessons learned from other industries can be applied to the healthcare sector.
Eric Steinberger, who has experience building brands and meeting consumer expectations in the financial, media and retail industries, proves it in his new role as Chief Marketing Officer for Atlantic Health. System.
He joined the nonprofit health system, based in Morristown, New Jersey, in November and completed his onboarding, part of which occurred during the COVID-19 omicron outbreak in December.
“It’s been busy but very rewarding along the way,” Steinberger told HealthLeaders recently during an interview about the first four months in her new role.
During his interview, Steinberger also shared what he focused on in his first 90 days, what strategic initiatives he will lead in his first year, and how healthcare marketing is similar. and different from other industries.
This transcript has been edited for clarity and conciseness.
HealthLeaders: How will your marketing and leadership experience in finance, media and retail help you in your new role as Chief Marketing Officer for Atlantic Health System?
Eric Steinberg: The way I see it is that all of these industries are going through changes that are driven by the customer and their expectations for customer experience. When consumer expectations rise or they see the type of experience they can have in a certain industry, those expectations are going to translate into all other industries. Certainly we hear from potential customers or patients saying that the way they want to experience health care should change and adapt, and that’s had a sequential effect that happens in all of those industries, but it’s produced a bit later in health care.
I’ve been working on some of the things that are ahead of the Atlantic health system over the next five to 10 years, and they can benefit from all the mistakes that I’ve made in the past and hopefully get through this faster because it’s complicated, but meaningful work, to improve the consumer experience at all levels.
HL: What did you mainly focus on during your first 90 days?
Steinberg: I would say that’s typical of an integration process, with maybe a few differences.
Most importantly being, and I think Atlantic Health has done a great job of supporting me on this, I need to immerse myself in healthcare and industry. Having worked in a number of industries, as well as professional services for much of my career, I pride myself on being someone who can jump into a situation and master a business in 90 days to six months. . This is the easy part. The complex part is about the processes, tools and approaches you take to drive change in an organization.
That being said, I was touched by the complexity of the healthcare space, from all the different treatments and care programs needed to serve an entire population in the northern New Jersey area, to the different payor-providers patterns, the movement in the industry of all the different players, and where they enter the space with access points. It’s a monumental task to unpack, but critically important to understanding what drives behaviors in the industry, and then, ultimately, what drives consumer choice in the space. It was a rewarding but intense process.
The other things I’ve focused on are digging into the marketing team, getting a deep understanding of the work they do today. My bias as an incoming leader is that people are smart, they do things for reasons, and you need to first understand the things that are happening and why they are happening, before you seek to question or change anything.
I also focus on building relationships within the organization. One of the things about healthcare is that there are so many different stakeholders in the organization. Building those relationships and building trust, as someone who wants to drive change in the organization, is critically important.
The last thing is to set a clear vision for the marketing team so that they understand and can communicate with the whole organization about what we want to accomplish over the next two to three years, because I consider my role as CMO is to clearly define this vision to inspire the organization to support this vision and be enthusiastic about it. Then I have to be a resource to help remove obstacles or challenges to keep moving forward along the way.
HL: What will your first year be like?
Steinberg: There are three areas I focus on:
1. Branding and naming strategy
Atlantic Health is a system with many different points of care with hospitals, doctors’ offices, urgent care facilities and rehabilitation centers – what I see is a great opportunity to differentiate on the market and to have the advantage of being able to serve a consumer in all aspects of their care. Ensure that we have a brand promise, that the organization, our employees, our consumers and other market stakeholders clearly understand that benefit differentiation is going to be critically important to define and implement in the whole system.
2. Amplify the way we communicate to consumers in an integrated way
This includes all of our aspects of care and how we can be there for a consumer to support their health, both when they are sick and when they are feeling well. And combine all of these forces rather than talking about any one individually.
3. Drive business through increased use of data, analytics and technology
This includes measuring performance and ensuring that our investments are in the areas that will generate the highest return and have the greatest impact on consumers in our market. It also includes understanding which relevant messages and content will be most engaging to them and creating personalized experiences. Ultimately, data, technology and business processes are among the strategic assets we bring to deliver a differentiating consumer experience in a market that is now a highly competitive space.
HL: What steps has Atlantic Health taken to keep the patient first, and how will you pursue those strategies?
Steinberg: One of the things that really made me join Atlantic Health is that it’s a well-run health care system. It is financially sound, drives great clinical excellence, and has a strong and impressive management team.
Where I thrive and enjoy most is taking an organization that is doing well today and being a catalyst to accelerate that growth even further. With the base we have here, I can take inspiration from other industries and see how we can provide differentiation and improve the consumer experience.
Then what we call the digital front door – all the digital tools that exist with online scheduling and self-care appointments – I see that as an incredible foundation that I can help, from a marketing view, to continue to develop communication.
HL: How is healthcare marketing similar and different from other industries?
Steinberg: My perspective, at least 90-120 days later, is that there are more things alike than different. Ultimately, it’s a product and a service that we’re trying to get consumers to adopt in a highly competitive marketplace where they have choices. Bringing all the data and technology together to be able to speak to a customer the way they want to be spoken to shows that we understand them. This makes a lot of sense in theory, but it’s hard to operationalize on a large scale. And that’s true in every other industry I’ve been in. It will be a challenge, but one that can be met in the world of health.
The other things that are similar is that we all communicate through the same channels. Consumers want to engage with healthcare through digital channels, just as they do in other industries. In healthcare, just like in other large organizations, there is a complex set of stakeholders and decision-making processes to drive change.
The focus on the health care mission is certainly one way that is different. Health care is more about serving and making sure that we provide equitable care across the community, and that mission changes the focus slightly.
The product is a bit more unique in that a bath towel is a bath towel. But when you’re sick or receiving preventative care, the treatment and experience you get will be highly personalized in the world of healthcare.
For many products and services, people are excited, it is a delicious experience that people look forward to. Most of the time, people don’t necessarily look forward to going to the doctor or don’t want to be sick. This therefore poses an additional challenge from a communication perspective to help drive this behavior change.
The last slightly different thing is regulatory and compliance hurdles. There are certainly more in the world of health. I say it’s an added challenge, but that’s no excuse for saying that change isn’t possible.
Melanie Blackman is Strategy Editor at HealthLeaders, an HCPro brand.