PM360 Q & A with Brad Graner President, Advertising and Publisher Solutions, Healthgrades

Brad Graner is a busy professional with a mission. Having previously worked for WebMD, where he was instrumental in growing the company’s online advertising sales from zero to $150 million, Brad built on his success and took on his current role at Healthgrades in 2010, when it acquired inHealth, a company he had co-founded. Since then, Brad and his team helped turn Healthgrades into the number one brand that helps connects doctors to the patients who need them most and a top choice for pharma marketers and elective providers to reach consumers just before their doctor visit. We asked Brad to talk about his endeavor and what pharma marketers can glean from his expertise.

PM360: You’ve had quite an illustrious career in healthcare. What or who initially inspired you?

Brad Graner: After college, I started on a very traditional business path: Wall Street, then MBA, then management consulting. After years of working really hard with really smart people, I realized I wanted to do something more “meaningful.” Digital health appealed to me for two reasons. First, both of my parents had had significant health emergencies at relatively young ages—my mother with lung cancer and my father with a heart attack. And second, I was very interested in the idea of making health information available to consumers for the first time ever. So I joined WebMD—before they even had a website. After years at WebMD, I wanted to once again build something from the ground up and co-founded a company in an effort to fill important gaps in the market that still existed. This company has now become part of Healthgrades.

You recently updated your website to improve consumer access to info about physicians to help them select and make appointments. Why did you take this step?

If you think about the most important brands today—companies such as Uber, Facebook, Airbnb, even Tinder—what do they have in common? They’re all about connection. In the health marketplace, Healthgrades is unique in its ability to connect consumers with the right doctor, the right hospital, and the right care. Our upgraded site was developed based on our insights and market research, and it facilitates these connections. It gives consumers even more ways to identify a provider using criteria meaningful to them. Patients can:

Research and compare providers: According to STAX research (http://bit.ly/2hrGF8C), commissioned by Healthgrades, consumers are 82% more likely to book an appointment if physician information includes experience, patient satisfaction scores, and the quality of hospitals where they practice. The new website offers expanded provider profiles to help consumers determine the right provider and facility for quality care.

Select a provider: The website also offers tailored search results based on criteria important to consumers. Consumers can find physicians who fit their specific needs, such as insurance, gender, and patient satisfaction. They can find the physicians who treat more than 12,000 conditions and procedures most often. The site enhancement also offers subjective information, like online reviews, to consumers, helping them make more informed decisions. Increasingly, patients are visiting Healthgrades.com to review their physicians and share details about their care experience. The site upgrades help paint a holistic picture of a provider and helps determine where to book an appointment.

Book an appointment: The website now allows more convenient options for consumers to quickly connect with healthcare providers. Consumers can search for a provider by appointment availability and whether they accept new patients. Health systems across the country have integrated online appointment scheduling capabilities through the Healthgrades website, which provides the ability to meet consumers where they are searching for health information.

Do you have any anecdotes that will be instructive for our readers?

I have an anecdote: When was the last time that you ordered a taco at a diner? An odd question? Perhaps, but it’s a good analogy to drive home a powerful point about what’s happening today in pharma marketing/online health space.

Imagine you’re craving tacos. Do you go to a diner or a Mexican restaurant? Both types of restaurants potentially serve tacos, but your chances of getting a taco are 32x higher if you go to a Mexican restaurant. Similarly, both PCPs and urologists can write a prescription for Myrbetriq, a drug that treats OAB, but a qualified consumer is 25 times more likely to get Myrbetriq from a urologist, rather than a PCP. That’s our value proposition for pharma marketers: We can more efficiently connect qualified patients to specialists—at the moment when patients are searching and appointing with that doctor, thereby driving ROI.

And transparency is particularly important.

Consumers have become accustomed to using transparent, objective, and accurate data to inform decisions in all areas of their lives, such as travel, hospitality, and personal banking, yet the complexity of getting good healthcare information online can be daunting. Comprehensive rating sites, such as Healthgrades, serve as valuable research tools for consumers to leverage and digest a wealth of objective data to make more informed decisions.

Finally, what gets you up in the morning, inspires you to improve upon your accomplishments?

Every morning I still wake up with the same belief and energy that led me to enter digital health almost 20 years ago—getting more and better information in the hands of consumers will improve health outcomes. At the end of the day, nothing is more important than helping people live happier and healthier lives. We’ve come a long way since the advent of digital health, but there’s still a long way to go.

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