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Sunday, April 8, 2012

Loss, Redemption and the Power of Love

This past year was one of great loss and sorrow for our family. Tragedy came in waves, one after another bringing debilitating illness, death, separation and passing of our dreams. The future we imagined and looked forward to disappeared with a cosmic roll of the dice. Each new event set us back on our journey through grief’s messy and painful terrain. There were days when it was almost too much to bear, and I had to remember to just keep breathing.

The story of Easter reminds us that without suffering there is no salvation. Without death, no resurrection. We witness the cycle of life all around us. The first green seedling that breaks through charred ground after a devastating wildfire. The crocus that blooms through snow. The crisp, blue sky after a hurricane’s fury. The burial of a loved one, and conception of a new life.

In my work, I frequently advise clients that they have to let go of what is to make room for what can be. These are difficult conversations, sorting through and determining what needs to be released, divested, allowed to die. In medicine, we are driven to fix things, to restore health, to save lives. Death is defeat. What we practice at the bedside carries over into our vocation, into our ego.

And so we resist it. Shock and disbelief give way to anger. In the heated squabbles I tried to have with God, he refused to engage. I wanted explanations. God just sent love. I wanted our old life back. God’s grace arrived on a rainbow. In a dark hour, I surrendered. There were no answers, only experiences. Only love.

Acceptance is bitter medicine. Without it, there can be no healing.

Death, in all its forms – loss of youth, loss of health, loss of life, loss of spouse, loss of self – is a messenger of resurrection, and can lead to a new covenant between oneself and the universe. Rebirth is simply letting go of what was previously important to make way for new blessings. But, there are few things more terrifying than trading the safety of what we know for the possibilities of the unknown.

An open heart is all it takes. Through it, we emerge from the darkness. We radiate love. We receive miracles. We witness the sacred in everyday occurrences. And we begin again.

Today, I know that my blessings are more bountiful than my sorrows. I have a loving and wonderful family. Friends, colleagues and clients that enrich my life in ways too plentiful to count. And even though our family is still traversing the harrowing twists and turns through a dark and seemingly haunted forest, we are bound by love in our journey. There is no turning back. Our treasures are here in this moment and with every step we take forward.

Thank you dear readers for letting me tell this difficult story. Whatever your faith, I wish you the miracle of rebirth on this Easter morning.

(Reminder:  This blog is moving to a new site.  Please CLICK HERE to go to the new blog and subscribe to future postings.  Thank you.)

Monday, December 12, 2011

Chief Marketing Officer Has Moved to a New Blog Site

Dear Readers,

Chief Marketing Officer has moved to a new blog platform.  Please click here to go to the new site and subscribe for updates.  While there, check out the four part series on Marketing Resource Allocation Decisions.  As always, your comments, questions and suggestions for content are always welcome.

Thank you for following Chief Marketing Officer.  I look forward to our conversations on the new site.

Karen Corrigan

Saturday, October 29, 2011

Marketing the Power of Pink

True confession: I dislike pink. And the marketer in me winces every time I see another pink ribbon etched, woven, stamped, hung or printed on everything from yogurt cups to kitchen appliances to clothing and even pet food. Don’t get me wrong – I get it. Breast cancer has taken the lives of people I treasure. And I wholeheartedly believe that physicians, healthcare marketers, organizations like the Susan G. Komen Foundation, and even all of the consumer products and services brandishing pink have saved countless women by raising awareness of the importance of early detection.

So what’s the beef? I wish I could offer up a rational argument for my stance on pink, but admit it has more emotional than rational origins. Perhaps it’s what appears to me to be the over-commercialization of the cause. Or maybe something more deep-seated, like fear.

Six months ago, Susan Lilly (one of our colleagues at Corrigan Partners) learned she had breast cancer. She found a lump under her arm and soon discovered that it was a particularly aggressive form of the disease. The past six months have been an endurance race of chemotherapy, surgery and recovery for Susan, her husband and two young daughters. The good news is good! While she still has a couple more surgeries to go, she is now re-entering normalcy – whatever that is.

I remember the stomach-sinking dread felt when Susan first called to say she had breast cancer. And can only imagine what it must have been like for her and for thousands of other women who hear those words coming out of their physicians’ mouths. But Susan taught us much here at the office. How not to give into fear. How to take control of your illness. How to be a smart healthcare consumer, not just a patient. How to keep going through the chemo treatments. How to embrace the fashion possibilities when she lost her hair. How to keep your humor – and your faith – through it all.

So there it is. I’ve outed Susan with her full permission. She has incredible strength of character and is much loved and admired by her colleagues for 'just being Susan.'

And yes, she and I share similar views on pink. But maybe we just need a little more distance from the tribulations of the past six months to embrace its power to heal.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Chris Boyer's Social Media ROI Ragtime

You might be tempted to suggest that Chris Boyer (Director of Digital Marketing & Communications, Inova Health System) keep his day job until you realize that this is his day job! Thanks Chris for this morning’s chuckles. Wish I’d been there to see it in person. (Thanks also to Dan Dunlop for feeding highlights from the Health Care Social Media Summit through his blog – The Healthcare Marketer).

Saturday, October 15, 2011

A ‘Can’t Miss’ Event – The 15th Annual Greystone.Net Healthcare Internet Conference

The 15th Annual Greystone.Net Healthcare Internet Conference will be held November 7 – 9, 2011 at the J.W. Marriott Orlando Grande Lakes. This year’s theme, The Convergence: Marketing and IT Collaboration – The Time is Now, is one of the reasons this annual Greystone.Net event has become a ‘must attend’ priority for me. With Convergence, Greystone.Net is introducing a new section focusing solely on the collaborative and innovative strategies and technologies transforming healthcare. The keynoters and featured presenters are topnotch experts in the realm of web, social and mobile trends, innovations and practical applications.

I’m also excited for the opportunity to present with with Sentara Healthcare’s digital marketers, Lee Gwaltney and Jessica Carlson on the topic of “Digital Brandscaping: Extending Your Brand Across Web, Social and Mobile Sites.” We’ll be addressing the importance of a proactive, focused and purposeful approach to brand management across web, social and mobile sites as well as with patient and provider portals, and with clinical information systems such as electronic health records. Our session is scheduled for Monday, November 7 at 4:15 p.m.

While there, drop by the Brains on Demand booth in the Exhibit Hall. We’ll be there with our Brains on Demand partners Brand =Experience, Klein & Partners and Eruptr.

Can you believe it’s the 15th year for the Greystone.Net conference? It’s a terrific event that just gets better every year.

Hope to see you there!

Thursday, October 13, 2011

The Future of Healthcare Marketing

I had a chance to talk with Bill Moschella Co-founder & CEO of eVariant about the future of healthcare marketing at the SHSMD conference this past September. Here’s that interview. What advice do you have for marketers seeking to improve marketing performance and build future ready marketing operations?

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Improving CV Volumes, Revenue and Business Performance - A Webinar for Healthcare Executives

Join Art Sturm, president & CEO of SRK, by webinar on Thursday, October 20 as he discusses how top heart programs are benefiting from the "strategic halo effect" in growing volumes and improving business performance for cardiovascular service lines. You'll learn strategies and tools for growing CV service line revenue and improving collaboration across multiple specialties. Key topic points include:
  • Growing new and returning patient revenue.
  • Optimizing resource utilization, including physician alignment.
  • Developing strategies to build collaboration among multiple service lines.
  • Streamlining operations by creating a common view that focuses the enterprise.
  • Tracking revenue and cost performance of individual service lines and individual physicians.
The Strategic Halo Effect also addresses the essential question: how to thrive in this new era of healthcare reform?

Follow the link below to learn more about this complementary webinar.

The Strategic Halo Effect: the Science of Improving CV Service Line Volumes, Revenue and Operations; Thursday, October 20, 10 AM Pacific, 12 Noon Central, 1 PM Eastern.

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

In Remembrance of a Healthcare Colleague and Dear Friend . . .

A memorial service will be held this evening for Nancy L. Eleuterius, a former co-worker and friend who, at age 68, left this earth far too young. I first met Nancy more than 30 years ago at Riverside Hospital in Newport News, Virginia. She worked in patient registration and I had just come on board as assistant director of marketing. What I remember most about that meeting was her warm, wonderful welcome to a strange new city and introduction to the institution. Shortly thereafter, Nancy left to take a job as director of administrative services for Norfolk General Hospital (now part of Sentara Healthcare in Virginia). I was sad to see her move on, but also joined the Norfolk General team later that same year and once again had the pleasure of working with Nancy. Hailing from Mississippi, she was the quintessential Southern lady; a steel magnolia with a big heart, quick wit, lots of smarts and true grit.

In the coming decades at Sentara, Nancy went on to become the director of operations for First Step, the first managed care contract in the nation for the Department of Defense. She was then promoted as the president of Sentara Mental Health Management and brought her very successful career to a close when she retired as president and CEO of Sentara Behavioral Health Services.

I have many wonderful memories of Nancy and hope you will indulge me in sharing a few of those with you today.

First, she was a champion of ‘patient experience’ before it became the trendy thing to do. Make that ‘customer’ experience – Nancy also believed that making it easy for doctors to schedule and admit patients would result in better business outcomes. We’re talking the early 1980s here – long before most hospitals understood or cared about the connection between service culture and financial performance. She alerted me – a very green marketer at the time – about a stream of patients being referred to our specialists by primary care docs in rural North Carolina. Told me about the number of calls coming in from people looking for doctors. Was concerned about patients and families trying to find someone to help them deal with the complexity and confusion of hospital stays.

In the earliest days of healthcare marketing, she was the catalyst for development of physician referral development, consumer call center and guest relations programs at Sentara.

Perhaps my favorite memory will be how the two of us conspired to keep a talented ‘temp’ worker in the health system. I first hired the temporary employee to help with the opening and marketing of a major facility expansion project. She was a fantastic find. When my funding ran out, Nancy and I arranged to have her work as a temporary employee in admissions, supporting a number of initiatives there. When her funding ran out, I had another new project that needed support. It took a couple of years, but we both knew great talent when we saw it and beat the ‘no new FTEs’ gridlock to bring her on in a permanent position. Today that person, Carol Via, is the vice president for corporate marketing at Sentara and remains one of the best marketing practitioners with whom I’ve had the privilege of working.

But Nancy wasn’t just about work. When I went into labor with my third child on the day before Thanksgiving, she showed up at our house to watch our toddler while my husband and I went to the hospital.

Over her lifetime, Nancy received numerous awards and recognitions for her accomplishments and contributions, served on boards and volunteered for community charities. What she was most proud of however, and held most precious, were her two daughters, Cindy and Deborah. She prayed daily for their health, safety and happiness.

A story that best characterizes Nancy goes like this. On a trip to New York City she decided to experience high tea at the Pierre Hotel. If you’ve ever done this, you know that it is a crowded happening (and if not, you must!). Nancy snagged a table with two seats in the Rotunda, ordered her tea and scones, and sat back to people watch. A tall, well-dressed gentleman asked if he could take the seat next to her, to which she agreed and for the next hour or so engaged in a conversation ranging from the weather to favorite restaurants to Broadway hits to world politics. When the gentleman rose to leave, he shook her hand and thanked her for one of the more pleasant afternoons he had experienced in some time. Immediately upon his departure, the wait staff clustered around her with questions. “Wow, do you know him? What was he like? Did you ask for his autograph?” Nancy, being Nancy, said “Know who?”

The answer was Michael Jordan. I still believe she had to look him up once she got home, but somewhere along the line learned he was rather famous. But that was Nancy. Every person was uniquely special – yet just a fellow human being.

Nancy was someone I looked up to and aspired to be like. She was a major influence both personally and professionally – I never stopped learning from her.

She will be missed by many, many people. And though her years were short, she lived each one with great enthusiasm and the world is a better place because of the time she spent on it.

Nancy L. Eleuterius
Nancy’s life will be celebrated at St. Gregory the Great Catholic Church, 5345 Virginia Beach Blvd., Virginia Beach, VA 23462-1889 on Wednesday, October 5, 2011. The memorial Mass will begin at 4:30 p.m. Flowers may be sent to St. Gregory the Great Catholic Church. In lieu of flowers, donations may be made in her name to St. Michael Building Fund, P.O. Box 523, Biloxi, MS 39530.

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Number of Consumer Health Apps to Reach 13,000 by Next Summer

MobiHealthNews' newly released report Consumer Health Apps for Apple's iPhone reveals that the number of health apps for consumers has grown at a steady rate over that past 18 months and projects that by next summer there will be more than 13,000 health apps intended for use by consumers.  The study is based on an analysis of 18 months of data from Apple’s AppStore and also shows that the average price of a paid health app is trending upward from $2.77 last February $3.21 in July 2011. Of the 9,000 health apps available for consumers today, slightly more than 16% are for cardio fitness and around 14% for diet.  Other categories include women's health, sleep, chronic disease, medication management and mental health.

Click here for more information about the study (full report available for a fee).

Monday, September 12, 2011

Heading Out to SHSMD Connections 2011!

It's that time of year again. Beginning tomorrow, hundreds of healthcare executives, planning and marketing professionals, communications leaders and other experts will be pouring into Phoenix for the annual conference of the Society for Healthcare Strategy and Market Development.  The conference officially kicks off on Wednesday morning, September 14 and continues through Saturday morning, September 17 at the J.W. Marriott Desert Ridge Resort.

Personally, I'm looking forward to reconnecting with long-time colleagues and friends, meeting and getting to know new people, learning new things and having a little fun along the way. 

This year, I'm honored to be speaking with Terri Goren of Goren & Associates and Phyllis Marino, vice president of market development at MetroHealth System in Cleveland.  We'll be presenting on Thursday, September 15 from 1:30 to 2:45.  Our topic - Can't We All Just Get Along?  Marketing and PR Professionals Uniting for Winning Results -- will address the challenges executives sometimes face when trying to get their marketing and PR teams on the same page, and offer insights into driving better and more collaborative performance.

At Corrigan Partners, we're also excited about our new partnership with Brains on Demand, a unique collaborative offering seamless access to leading healthcare research, brand, marketing, communications and social media experts that can help you address a multitude of needs and projects.  We'll be in the Exhibit Hall during exhibition hours at booth #813.  Stop by and see us, and register for a free day of consulting from one of our experts.

I hope you will also join us at the Corrigan Partners Sunrise SIG Breakfast on Friday morning from 8:00 am to 9:00 am.  Join a table discussing a topic of interest and meet some new people over coffee and breakfast. 

For a list of all the great topics, speakers, events, exhibitors, etc., click here to visit SHSMD's website.  And thanks also to the SHSMD staff for the hard and expert work they put into making this a great annual event.

See you there!

Friday, August 26, 2011

Preparing for Hurricane Irene

My colleagues in our Norfolk, Virginia based Corrigan Partners firm have spent today securing homes and property and assuring the safety of our families. Some of our team live in flood-prone areas and have been ordered to evacuate. We expect the weather to deteriorate overnight, with hurricane winds, rain and flooding to escalate on Saturday and continuing through the early hours of Sunday.

If predictions hold true, it is likely that we will lose power and phone service, and have limited access to the Internet, email and voicemail. Emergency officials have warned that it could take several days to a week or more to restore. If you want to contact us, please do leave an email or voicemail and we will make every attempt to respond as quickly as possible.

We apologize for this inconvenience and appreciate your understanding as we get through the storm clean-up and return to normal operations.

When we have access to the Internet, we’ll post any changes or updates on our Facebook site at

To all of our clients, colleagues, friends and family in Irene’s path, please stay safe. We wish you the best.


Sunday, August 21, 2011

Feed Your Brain with these Conferences for Healthcare Marketers

Remember when August meant gearing up for the new school year - shopping for school supplies, refreshing the wardrobe, looking forward to being back in the classroom?  For us grown-up healthcare marketers, Fall still signals a season of continuous learning with some outstanding conferences and webinars.  Here's a few I'd recommend.  Any other suggestions?

SHSMD Connections 2011
American Hospital Association
Society for Healthcare Strategy and Market Development
September 14 - 17, 2011
JW Marriot Desert Ridge Resort
Phoenix, Arizona

Healthcare Reform: Implications for Marketers
Forum for Healthcare Strategists Webinar
September 28, 2011
1:30–3:00 pm (CDT)

Third Annual Healthcare Social Media Conference
October 17-19, 2011
Mayo Clinic
Rochester, Minnesota

Hospital and Physician Relations Executive Summit
Forum for Healthcare Strategists
October 19 - 21, 2011
Camelback Inn and Spa
Scottsdate, Arizona

15th Annual Greystone.Net Healthcare Internet Conference
November 7 - 9, 2011
JW Marriott Orlanto Grande Lakes
Orlando, Florida

Look forward to seeing you out there.


Wednesday, July 13, 2011

10 Advertising Terms You Should Learn Today

In the world of digital marketing, advertising terms like PPC, CPM and CTR are fast becoming so yesterday.  Marketers and advertisers are cooking up an alphabet stew of new acronyms, words and, well,  jargon to describe a new wave on on-line advertising technologies.

If expressions like RTB (real time bidding) and DSP (demand-side platform) leave you scratching your head, and terms like re-targeting, dynamic creative and geofencing aren't dancing on the tongue, then grab the iPad and take some notes from Business Insiders article on "10 Advertising Terms You'll Be Hearing For Years, So Learn Them Now."

Click here to read the article.

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Practicing What They Preach - Smokers won't be Hired by SSM Health Care

Recently, I was driving past a top notch tertiary medical center that has a smoke free campus.  Across the street from the hospital in the median of a major thoroughfare sat a half dozen employees in their scrubs taking a smoke break.  From the car, I could see both the smokers and the smoke-free campus banner.  The contradictory image was quite startling.

Now, SSM Health Care hospitals in St. Louis  will start a tobacco-free hiring policy next month.  Job applicants at the seven SSM hospitals will be asked whether they have used tobacco in the last six months. If the answer is yes, that applicant will be eliminated from the hiring process.  SSM spokesperson, Chris Hutton stressed that the health system wants employees to model healthy behaviors and take better care of themselves.  Lowering healthcare costs related to employees that smoke is also a factor - the federal Center for Disease Control and Prevention puts that cost at an additonal $3,400 annually per employee.

SSM is not the first health system to ban the hiring of smokers - and I hope they won't be the last.

Click here to read more.