Healthcare-focused digital marketing platform Influence Health is riding a wave of trends in healthcare, from a consumer focus on digitization to increased competition for patients. Their success has shown with a spree of announcements over the past year, including several new members of the leadership team and doubling down on their commitment to Atlanta with a significantly bigger office and hiring commitment.
The Birmingham-headquartered company established an Atlanta presence in 2015 with the acquisition of Brightwhistle, a digital marketing platform built for health practitioners, systems and insurers. About 25 employees joined the team at the time.
Since then, that number has almost doubled, resulting in the company moving to a new office at the Armour Yards development last week. CFO Dave Morgan, who joined Influence Health in March, says that office could soon hold as many as 70 employees. They will largely be on the engineering and development teams — the company brought on a new CTO, formerly of NCR, at the same time Morgan joined — and client services.
Influence Health is addressing a market made necessary by the growing trend of healthcare consumerization. They offer a better way for providers to market their services to customers (potential or current patients) by providing better targeting, segmentation, marketing content and campaigns.
“Our goal is to essentially create a one stop shop for these healthcare providers to drive customer loyalty,” says CEO Mike Nolte, who formerly served as President and COO at MedAssets, a healthcare performance company. “We want to be a complete solution to help healthcare providers become consumer businesses.”
Nolte says that healthcare presents a particular challenge in marketing because the industry isn’t built like a consumer business, such as a retail store or airline. Instead of doing proactive outreach, most practitioners wait until consumers need them — until they’re sick or injured — to engage with them.
“The basic challenge, which is somewhat unique to healthcare, is that a lot of healthcare is episodic. If you break your toe, you’re going to engage with a provider. Then you’re going to get better, and you may not think about that provider for some extended period of time, maybe never again,” says Nolte.
But Influence Health is helping healthcare systems reach a new kind of health consumer, a more engaged and proactive one. Nowadays, a digital-savvy patient expects to be reached on every platform with email or push notifications.
Their platform can segment customers based on demographic data such as location, age and gender. It also can use past history to be predictive — a woman who delivered a baby will soon be in the market for pediatrics services, for example. They can then serve targeted and relevant campaigns to engage those potential patients.
“Our goal is to create a relevant moment that shows up as value to an individual consumer,” says Nolte. “We want to engage them in a way that’s going to help them drive their own health and engage in behavior that improves their care — ideally, that improves their overall health.”
Influence Health also improves the digital experience of the healthcare consumer, both before he or she engages with the practitioner and while they are being treated. They implement surveys to track customer feedback and retention and ensure the patient is continuously being engaged.
“One of the things that is most important to a patient is the experience that happens afterward. How do you continue to engage with that consumer by being a relevant, relationship-focused organization in the same way that a retailer or a car manufacturer or any other consumer business would try to be?”
It’s all intended to drive loyalty in a fickle market where it’s just as easy to search for a different doctor online as it is to place a call to one you already know.
“There’s a lot better data for consumers to make choices,” says Nolte. “Versus just asking your friend for a referral to a doctor, there’s a lot more information available that is credible to help make good choices around healthcare.”
Nolte says consumers are also bearing more of the costs of their own healthcare, and with a higher dollar amount comes a higher tendency to “shop around.” It’s up to the provider to build that loyalty so the patient keeps coming back. That’s where Influence Health steps in.
Because of their multi-faceted approach, Nolte says the company doesn’t have one single competitor that tackles the breadth of all their services. With top-tier clients and a large market left to address, they are looking to grow — and are hiring — in both the Birmingham and Atlanta offices.
“There’s a good chunk of the leadership team that’s now in Atlanta, about half the folks are here,” says Morgan. “The way we approach it, frankly, is we’re going to find the best talent we can.”