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Packing For DC

Gienna Shaw, for HealthLeaders News, October 3, 2007
Today's the opening day of one of the biggest healthcare marketing events of the year--the Society for Healthcare Strategy and Market Development's annual conference in Washington, DC. The conference will draw about 1,500 people, including attendees, speakers, and vendors, according to SHSMD president-elect David Marlowe. "It's going to be a pretty good crowd," he says.

It's going to be a pretty fun crowd, too. Instead of a keynote speaker, the event officially kicks off Wednesday night with a performance by The Capitol Steps, a political humor group. "We used to have a keynote speaker and we finally said, you know, enough," says Marlowe. "We have three days of conference sessions. How about just relaxing and having a few laughs?"

A few highlights from the conference schedule include:

  • Multiple tracks, including marketing, PR and communications, strategic planning, physician relations, and a track for small and rural hospitals
  • Sessions for three different skill levels (beginner, intermediate and advanced)
  • A new "senior track" symposium for marketing executives with 20+ years of experience
  • Lots of networking opportunities (the theme of this year's conference is making connections), including a "speed networking" event
  • An "inside SHSMD" breakfast with acting president Ruth Colby to learn about upcoming events and member benefits
The popular "Hit Me With Your Best Shot" sessions--one in PR, one in marketing, and one in business development--are back again this year. Speakers in the marketing session, for example, are Karen Corrigan, CEO of the Strategy Group in Arlington, VA, Anthony Gardner, VP of business development and marketing for the Foote Health System in Jackson, MI, Tess Niehaus, VP of marketing, communications and physician services at Christian Hospital/BJC HealthCare in St. Louis, MO, and Marlowe, who is also the principal of Strategic Marketing Concepts in Ellicott City, MD.

"Those sessions are led by people who are experts in the field," says Marlowe, whose recent book, A Marketer's Guide to Measuring ROI, is published by HealthLeaders Media. "Somehow I got in there, but there are others. And you can ask us anything you want."

There will be plenty of sessions on a variety of topics, Marlowe says. But certain topics stand out as being particularly hot ones this year. "Transparency is a big thing. Quality remains a big thing, though no one really seems to have figured out what to do with that. People are still wrestling with how to break out of the traditional and [use] new technologies. They're edging into it," he says. "And physician relations and recruitment are really big issues, too."

Going to the conference? Be sure to stop by our booth in the exhibit hall to say hello. Can't make it this year? Then stay tuned to our marketing microsite over the next few days. Our editorial staff will be posting news, observations, and updates from the conference.


Gienna Shaw is an editor with HealthLeaders magazine. She can be reached at gshaw@healthleadersmedia.com.